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Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

Crowds and Power (1960)

by Elias Canetti

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797711,521 (4.15)9
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This is not Margaret Mead's 'Coming of Age in Samoa,' but it does share a lot of the same 'impressionistic' style we also find in Mead's classic. In fact, Crowds and Power reads more like a fictional account at times than a "serious" attempt at anthropology or philosophy. And therein lies its secret perhaps: in essence, this book is a collection of stories, not a collection of essays. It is similar, in that sense, to The Earwitness (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1107912.Earwitness), a collection of vignettes.

This hybrid style makes for relatively easy reading: not too many endnotes, although there is an extensive bibliography attached, just so we don't go believing that this man made up everything all by himself. Recommended for anyone interested in exploring the universe of so many different types of crowds, and of the objects and tools of power, such as orders, questions, secrets and the command of time. Canetti makes for an eloquent guide into these fascinating, and often dark lands. ( )
  MistahKurtz | Mar 31, 2015 |
A deductive study of the human psyche within all of us. The author leads the reader through the maze of human thought using detailed reports of the behavior of primitive cultures, well documented historical figures and mental health patients. Pealing back the protective shell we all construct around ourselves he reveals the hidden 'survivor' within each of us, the desire to be the last one standing. He shows how the 'survivor' reaches the highest form in tribal leaders, kings, despots and politicians, the most dangerous being the paranoid despot. ( )
  4bonasa | May 15, 2014 |
Interesting view of the behavior of crowds and leaders and how they interact and grow. Uses many anthropoligical examples, although some links are more tenuous than others. Extremely interesting. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
This book has been a great influence on my thinking. I recommend it highly. The author won a Nobel Prize. ( )
  rozzief | Aug 30, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elias Canettiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stewart, CarolTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuin, JennyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374518203, Paperback)

Elias Canetti's 1981 Nobel Prize was awarded mainly on the basis of this, his masterwork of philosophical anthropology about la condition humaine on an overpopulated planet.

Ranging from soccer crowds and political rallies to Bushmen and the pilgrimage to Mecca, Canetti exhaustively reviews the way crowds form, develop, and dissolve, using this taxonomy of mass movement as a key to the dynamics of social life. The style is abstract, erudite, and anecdotal, which makes Crowds and Power the sort of work that awes some readers with its profundity while irritating others with its elusiveness. Canetti loves to say something brilliant but counterintuitive, and then leave the reader to figure out both why he said it and whether it's really true. --Richard Farr

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Crowds and Power is a revolutionary work in which Elias Canetti finds a new way of looking at human history and psychology. Breathtaking in its range and erudition, it explores Shiite festivals and the English Civil war, the finger exercises of monkeys and the effects of inflation in Weimar Germany. In this study of the interplay of crowds, Canetti offers one of the most profound and startling portraits of the human condition.… (more)

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