In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit...
-from the Preface
The satanic child-abuse mania of the 1980s. The dotcom craze of the 1990s. The housing bubble of the 2000s. It may seem like we today invented mass insanity, but it's always been with us, as this classic expose of the madness of humanity demonstrates in a way that's both disturbing and highly entertaining.
First published in 1841 across multiple volumes but presented here in one omnibus volume, this enlightening work explores such societal delusions and aberrations as:
. the Mississippi Scheme, in which an 18th-century Scottish financier created a stock bubble in France for land in the New World
. the infamous tulip mania that seized Holland in the 1600s
. the grip that alchemists, with their claims of turning lead to gold, held over the European imagination during the Enlightenment
. the centuries-long Crusades of the Middle Ages
. the witch hunts that plagued both sides of the Atlantic in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries
. and many more.
A powerful study of human psychology on a cultural scale, this important work is startlingly relevant today... as it's sure to still be centuries from now.
Scottish journalist CHARLES MACKAY (1814-1889) held an honorary law degree from Glasgow University, as well as a doctorate in literature. A renowned poet and songwriter, he also authored a Dictionary of Lowland Scotch.