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“Today, as in the time of the South Sea Bubble, human nature is drawn like a moth to a flame by the speculative fads of the marketplace. The excitement of new glamour issues in electronics or medical technology and the general euphoria over a rising market can lure even the most experienced investors. Their optimism overcomes their better judgment. They abandon critical analysis of the investment’s fundamental value. Like gamblers in a casino, they play against the odds, paying inflated prices and dreaming of quick profit.” —from the foreword by John Marks Templeton.

Mackay’s classic, first published in 1841, studies the psychology of crowds and mass mania throughout history, including accounts of classic scams, grand-scale madness, and deceptions. Some of these include the Mississippi scheme that swept France in 1720, the South Sea Bubble that ruined thousands in England simultaneously, and the tulip mania of Holland when fortunes were made and lost on single tulip bulbs.

Other chapters deal with fads and delusions that often spring from good ideas or causes, many of which still have their followers today: alchemy and the philosopher’s stone, the prophecies of Nostradamus, the coming of comets and judgment day, the Rosicrucians, and astrology.

Time and again, we can avoid disastrous pitfalls and learn to profit by seeing how history repeats itself. Fascinating, mesmerizing, strikingly strange, and amazingly wise, this book will never be forgotten and cannot be ignored.

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Requesting an Exam Copy

Exam copies are sent to professors who would like to review the book before deciding whether to use it in a class. To request an exam copy, you must fill out the form below. It will automatically be sent to a staff member.

In our efforts to stay green, reduce expenses, and maintain scholarly accessibility, we are sending examination copies as electronic downloads in the Adobe Digital Edition format for a 90-day review period. If you have any trouble accessing the book in this format, please contact us and we will send a traditional copy of the book instead.

If you chose to review the electronic version of the book and adopt the book for one of your courses, upon notification by you or your bookstore, a traditional bound book will be sent to you free of charge.

Requesting a Desk Copy

Desk copies are complimentary books sent to professors who have already adopted the book for a course. To request a desk copy, please fill out the form below. It will automatically be sent to a staff member.

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The Mississippi Scheme / 1–45

The South–Sea Bubble / 46–88

The Tulipomania / 89–97

The Alchymists / 98–256

Modern Prophecies / 257–280

Fortune–Telling / 281–303

The Magnetisers / 304–345

Influence of Politics and Religion on the Hair and Beard / 346–353

The Crusades / 354–461

The Witch Mania / 462–564

The Slow Poisoners / 565–592

Haunted Houses / 593–618

Popular Follies of Great Cities / 619–631

Duels and Ordeals / 647–694

Relics / 695–702

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