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The Wealth of Nations
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The Wealth of Nations
by Adam Smith

It is symbolic that Adam Smith¡¯s masterpiece of economic analysis, The Wealth of Nations, was first published in 1776, the same year as the Declaration of Independence.

In his book, Smith fervently extolled the simple yet enlightened notion that individuals are fully capable of setting and regulating prices for their own goods and services. He argued passionately in favor of free trade, yet stood up for the little guy. The Wealth of Nations provided the first--and still the most eloquent--integrated description of the workings of a market economy.

The result of Smith¡¯s efforts is a witty, highly readable work of genius filled with prescient theories that form the basis of a thriving capitalist system. This unabridged edition offers the modern reader a fresh look at a timeless and seminal work that revolutionized the way governments and individuals view the creation and dispersion of wealth--and that continues to influence our economy right up to the present day.

Customer Reviews:

  • Go to the source to de-bunk free-trade mumbo jumbo
    ALWAYS GO TO THE SOURCE!!! Anyone contemplating outsourced jobs and how our economy has sunk so low should read this book before handing a copy of it to their Congressman. You'd be amazed to discover how many of the MBA-Ph.D Economist drones quoting Adam Smith in support of so-called "free trade" policies have never read it (almost none). Although Mr. Smith supports open trade, what is being called "free trade" by modern politicians and multinational corporations who quote Adam Smith in support of their rape/pillage/burn of America bears no relation whatsoever to the policies Adam Smith wrote in support of. Adam Smith DESPISED big business and wrote his great economic tome in support of SMALL to MID-SIZED businesses ... the kind controlled by a real person and not an over-payed CEO and unaccountable board of directors. Pay special attention to Smith's comments about the herring subsidies (Monsanto, big oil), taxes (a necessary evil), and corporate monopolies (Walmart/big banks - whenever they get together the common man is worse off).

    Talking about this book at cocktail parties where MBA-drones congregate is great fun ... kind of like taking the Bible and completing the out-of-context biblical quotes spewed out by radical right-wing Christians (they say "woman obey your husband" and you finish the biblical passages in context and say something like "put your wife above all others ... and husbands don't be vexatious to your wife."). Makes the person mis-quoting the great work look like a donkey and you look like Stephen Hawkings.

    Caveat ... although this book is understandable because Smith ties abstract economic pricipals to ordinary commodities such as herring and corn, it is best read in small, digestible chunks due to the archaic 18th-century English. I kept mine in the bathroom and read one short chapter (most run 5-12 pages) every time I visited Uncle John. Before I knew it all 1,187 pages had been painlessly digested (no pun intended).

    Avoid cheap pro-big-business Chicago School of Economics knockoffs of Adam Smith. Go to the source and read up on what REALLY ails the global economy today. The Bantam version is great because for the price of a double mochachino you, too, can sound like a genius and poke lots of fun holes in your MBA drone brother-in-laws pro-big-business blather! Buy two copies and give one to your favorite politician today....more info
  • wealth of nations
    pretty much the base for most modern thought on capitalism, while still being surprisingly relevant though it was written over 200 years ago....more info
  • Excellent
    This book is filled with great information you will find useful as well as having to find new things you never knew about. I will recommend this book to anyone and everyone....more info
  • A Must Read For Every Economist
    This book is so widely cited and interpreted contrary to the author's original thought, that every economist should read it completely to avoid being misled by such incorrect interpretations.

    First, let us take the "invisible hand" metaphor. When I have studied economy in the University, I was taught that almost the entire book is devoted to the "invisible hand" which means "self-corrective markets", "liberalism", "Laissez-faire" and "state non-intervention". After reading this book, I have found out that Adam Smith did use the term "invisible hand" only once in the entire book, in the discussion of domestic versus foreign trade.

    To illustrate the point, let me quote the text where term "invisible hand" is used: "First, every individual endeavours to employ his capital as near home as he can, and consequently as much as he can in the support of domestic industry, provided always that he can thereby obtain the ordinary, or not a great deal less than the ordinary profits of stock. Thus, upon equal, or nearly equal profits, every wholesale merchant naturally prefers the home trade to the foreign trade of consumption, and the foreign trade of consumption to the carrying trade. In the home trade, his capital is never so long out of his sight as it frequently is in the foreign trade of consumption. [...]Secondly, every individual who employs his capital in the support of domestic industry, necessarily endeavours so to direct that industry, that its produce may be of the greatest possible value. [...]As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can, both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce maybe of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it."

    After reading this book, I have found out that Adam Smith was influenced by French Physiocrats. The Physiocrats saw the true wealth of a nation as determined by the surplus of agricultural production over and above that needed to support agriculture (by feeding farm labourers and so forth). Other forms of economic activity, such as manufacturing, were viewed as taking this surplus agricultural production and transforming it into new products, by using the surplus agricultural production to feed the workers who produced the extra goods. While these manufacturers and other non agricultural workers may be useful, they were seen as 'sterile' in that their income derives ultimately not from their own work, but from the surplus production of the agricultural sector.

    I have found out that this book is not about "invisible hand" or "Laissez-faire". It is quite a complete study that covers almost every basic aspect of the economy, and remains an effective introduction to economics to this day.

    This book is so often mischaracterized and politicized that I suggest you to read it completely by yourself. This is a must read for every economist. You can get an audio version of this book to avoid lengthy read.
    ...more info
  • Making Wealth, Making Poverty: A Smithian Prometheus
    Conquering Scarcity: (Smith's Dialectical Relationship to Marx?)?
    Adam Smith is certainly one of the greatest political philosophers in the modern tradition. Our world, as some have argued, is principally the byproduct of the system that Smith outlined in this classic work, together with a judicious mating of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. The "Wealth of Nations," though the most well known of Smith's writings, is not representative of his entire system of thought, if he has a system: Some authors insist that there is a paradox in Smith's work, when considered in light of "The Theory of Moral Sentiments"? I do not know if this is the case, but the degree to which Smith's ideas have shaped our world cannot be questioned: If it were questioned in this forum, one would only have to point to the existence of this forum to show that Smith was right; the global structure of capitalism today and its development, which has been explored by thinkers after Smith is an undeniable fact. For these reasons, Adam Smith is, in my judgement, one of the most important thinkers in modernity, and he may well have a stake in shaping an arguably post-modern world: But that is not, perhaps, the last word. ...more info
  • Awesome read
    Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith is a great read for anyone wanting to know the foundations of economics and how money works in our world. I listened to this downloadable book as an audiobook from Stratobooks.com while I commuted to and from work. I got through it in just a few days and it was less than 5 bucks.

    ...more info
  • The all time classic - worth re-reading in a changing economy
    I reread (more like re-scanned) Adam Smith's famous book, The Wealth of Nations. It is a fairly aggressive book based on its size with almost 1,000 pages of fairly fine print of which half of it is dedicated to the supply and demand of corn. But it is surprisingly readable and even interesting. And it is the basic textbook of all economics.

    Wealth is defined as production capability or what we might call GDP.

    I figure with a changing economy, it never hurts to brush up on the basics. We are in a period of sharp changes in supply and demand. It is important for business leaders to try to understand what impact this will have on them and their companies.

    One principle that Adam espouses is the division of labour.

    He also talks about principals, those are the people that supply the capital that is put to use by the agents (people who apply the capital). His view is that people should not do both, they should do one or the other. It is an interesting thought.

    He is very harsh on protectionism (as am I).

    I am not going to recommend reading it because the size is too daunting for many people. I am suggesting thinking of the changes in our economy and how to thrive with them....more info
  • Not For Me
    I had to buy this book for a class that I hated and almost couldn't force myself to read it. I had such a hard time with it and found it incredibly boring and confusing. I would never read this book for fun. Unfortunately it does talk about a lot about important things and I could sound like an educated person if I had read it but I just can't understand it. Maybe when I'm over 50 I'll be more interested since I might have a genuine interest in what the book talks about, instead of being forced to read it for a class that I hated so much....more info
  • Invislble Hand
    This book is so widely cited and interpreted contrary to the author's original thought, that every economist should read it completely to avoid being misled by such incorrect interpretations.

    First, let us take the "invisible hand" metaphor. When I have studied economy in the University, I was taught that almost the entire book is devoted to the "invisible hand" which means "self-corrective markets", "liberalism", "Laissez-faire" and "state non-intervention". After reading this book, I have found out that Adam Smith did use the term "invisible hand" only once in the entire book, in the discussion of domestic versus foreign trade.

    To illustrate the point, let me quote the text where term "invisible hand" is used: "First, every individual endeavours to employ his capital as near home as he can, and consequently as much as he can in the support of domestic industry, provided always that he can thereby obtain the ordinary, or not a great deal less than the ordinary profits of stock. Thus, upon equal, or nearly equal profits, every wholesale merchant naturally prefers the home trade to the foreign trade of consumption, and the foreign trade of consumption to the carrying trade. In the home trade, his capital is never so long out of his sight as it frequently is in the foreign trade of consumption. [...]Secondly, every individual who employs his capital in the support of domestic industry, necessarily endeavours so to direct that industry, that its produce may be of the greatest possible value. [...]As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can, both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce maybe of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it."

    After reading this book, I have found out that Adam Smith was influenced by French Physiocrats. The Physiocrats saw the true wealth of a nation as determined by the surplus of agricultural production over and above that needed to support agriculture (by feeding farm labourers and so forth). Other forms of economic activity, such as manufacturing, were viewed as taking this surplus agricultural production and transforming it into new products, by using the surplus agricultural production to feed the workers who produced the extra goods. While these manufacturers and other non agricultural workers may be useful, they were seen as 'sterile' in that their income derives ultimately not from their own work, but from the surplus production of the agricultural sector.

    I have found out that this book is not about "invisible hand" or "Laissez-faire". It is quite a complete study that covers almost every basic aspect of the economy, and remains an effective introduction to economics to this day.

    This book is so often mischaracterized and politicized that I suggest you to read it completely by yourself. This is a must read for every economist. You can get an audio version of this book to avoid lengthy read.
    ...more info
  • Adam Smith: Wealth of nations
    This version is just too small for such a great book. No room to write interpretations or other side notes. Bought another one, so it has become my door stop for now; until someone offers me a price or simply asks to borrow it....more info
  • Good Job Bantam. A Wealth of Knowledge. Smart Size and Price
    For those who don't have time to sit through over 1200 pages, this book has an index. There's more than just economy, banks, money, tax, and trade matters in here.

    This is packed with quotations about ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. He commented on religion, religious sects, and how smaller ones tended to be overly 'rigorous' and 'unsocial.'He wrote a couple of lines on Bible translation too.
    He mentioned India, China, as well as Montesque, Locke, and David Hume.
    He wrote about schools, universities, and philosophy.

    Can't beat the size, or the price as I tend to be partial to compact paperbacks.

    Libertarians and conservatives tend to cherry pick this volume.
    The reason why is because it's a fruitful read.

    Libertarian think tanks who charge an arm and a leg for their books should take notice. Bantam got the price and the size just right.
    I would recommend along with this title the Bantam edition of Democracy in America by de Toqueville, which also has an index.
    Some of us are busy, and strapped for cash. ...more info
  • Invislble Hand
    This book is so widely cited and interpreted contrary to the author's original thought, that every economist should read it completely to avoid being misled by such incorrect interpretations.

    First, let us take the "invisible hand" metaphor. When I have studied economy in the University, I was taught that almost the entire book is devoted to the "invisible hand" which means "self-corrective markets", "liberalism", "Laissez-faire" and "state non-intervention". After reading this book, I have found out that Adam Smith did use the term "invisible hand" only once in the entire book, in the discussion of domestic versus foreign trade.

    To illustrate the point, let me quote the text where term "invisible hand" is used: "First, every individual endeavours to employ his capital as near home as he can, and consequently as much as he can in the support of domestic industry, provided always that he can thereby obtain the ordinary, or not a great deal less than the ordinary profits of stock. Thus, upon equal, or nearly equal profits, every wholesale merchant naturally prefers the home trade to the foreign trade of consumption, and the foreign trade of consumption to the carrying trade. In the home trade, his capital is never so long out of his sight as it frequently is in the foreign trade of consumption. [...]Secondly, every individual who employs his capital in the support of domestic industry, necessarily endeavours so to direct that industry, that its produce may be of the greatest possible value. [...]As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can, both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce maybe of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain; and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it."

    After reading this book, I have found out that Adam Smith was influenced by French Physiocrats. The Physiocrats saw the true wealth of a nation as determined by the surplus of agricultural production over and above that needed to support agriculture (by feeding farm labourers and so forth). Other forms of economic activity, such as manufacturing, were viewed as taking this surplus agricultural production and transforming it into new products, by using the surplus agricultural production to feed the workers who produced the extra goods. While these manufacturers and other non agricultural workers may be useful, they were seen as 'sterile' in that their income derives ultimately not from their own work, but from the surplus production of the agricultural sector.

    I have found out that this book is not about "invisible hand" or "Laissez-faire". It is quite a complete study that covers almost every basic aspect of the economy, and remains an effective introduction to economics to this day.

    This book is so often mischaracterized and politicized that I suggest you to read it completely by yourself. This is a must read for every economist. You can get an audio version of this book to avoid lengthy read.
    ...more info