The Wealth of Nations: An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations
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The Wealth of Nations: An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  13,747 ratings  ·  428 reviews
An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations influenced a broad range of thinkers from David Ricardo to Karl Marx. Smith stresses the importance of the division of labor to economic progress. Opposing mercantilist monopolism, he offers a theoretical & historical case for free trade.
Five editions appeared before his 1790 death: 1776, 1778, 1784, 17...more
Paperback, 1264 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Bantam Classics (first published 1776)
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Szplug
Dec 16, 2013 Szplug marked it as intermittently-reading  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I feel so very goddamned embarrassed by my lack of higher education. There are just too many of the foundational works of Western civilization that I am only getting around to now, in my early forties—and even with the padding of years, I feel depressingly unprepared heading into them. So much fucking time wasted doing shit, when I could have been reading...

Smith is smooth, like a nice rye whisky. Right off the bat, this artful Adam opens with a remark about the productive powers of la...more
Scott
For a truth, about 3/4 of this book is 18th century blabber about corn prices. Of the remaining 1/4, about 1/2 is criticism of mercantilsm, which is mostly obvious and definitely boring.

The remaining 1/8 of the book, however, is worth fighting through the rest for. Even if you've heard the explanation of the "invisible hand" a thousand times, there is something magical about reading the actual words by the father himself:

"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker...more
Erik Graff
Mar 01, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Evelyn Wood
A prideful and ambitious boy, hearing that President Kennedy had been a speed reader, I cut lawns and shovelled walks to pay for an Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics program. We met in the spare basement of the hideous modern structure that passed for Park Ridge's "Inn"--a residence primarily for attendants and pilots from the airlines utilizing nearby O'Hare International Airport. I was a sophomore, the youngest in class, quite serious and full of myself.

The Wood method consisted, basically, of two...more
Richard Fulgham
Apr 19, 2009 Richard Fulgham rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: swine, hyenas and robber barons
"The Wealth of Nations" is the book that changed greed to a virtue instead of a sin.

In fact, greed is one of the Seven Deadly Sins in Christian theology. Greed is a sin in ALL the great religions, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, Buddhism, American Indian Spiritualism, Wiccan nature love, Bahá'í Faith, Gnosticism · · Rastafari,Samaritanism, Indian Ayyavazhi, Jainism, Sikhism Iranian Ahl-e Haqq, Manichaeism, Mazdak, Yazidi,Zoroastrianism, East Asian Confucianism, Taoism,Recent C...more
Anne
Apr 24, 2008 Anne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Recommended to Anne by: I'm not going lie, I was forced to read it in American Nat'l Gov
Shelves: ethnographical
How can one go through life without reading the Wealth of Nations?

Adam Smith had the idea of modern economics before the United States was even sovereign (I go not so much for good writers, as I do for innovative and groundbreaking thinkers). Imagine coming up with your own idea of an economic system long before the world was ready. And unlike Marx, may I mention, Smith's ideals are not only flourishing and still seen today, but they are the foundation of the many, many economies and nations.
Jacqueline
Always a great classic on economics. His one fatal flaw was opening the door for Marx. By placing value based on labor, laborers feel they are the ones that deserve all the reward. Labor means nothing if no one wants the item being produced. The free market drives price, not the amount of labor put into a product.

Great chance to see and understand how economics developed.
Dave
Adam Smith’s “An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations” (often called simply “The Wealth Of Nations”) is one of two great works from the Scottish economist and philosopher, the other being the lesser known “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”. “The Wealth Of Nations” was published on March 9th, of 1776, but there were additional editions in 1778, 1784, 1786, and 1789. I read the free Kindle version of “The Wealth Of Nations”, and while I do not recommend that version I do recom...more
Mohammad Ali Abedi
“Money, says the proverb, makes money. When you have got a little, it is often easy to get more. The great difficulty is to get that little.”

This book was absolutely a pain to get through. Maybe the biggest difference between 2012 and 1776 is that people have less patience. This economic book, seems to have made a huge influence on future economists and capitalists, but reading over 1000 pages on extremely dry economics was really difficult for me. There are some good ideas in the book, but read...more
Robert
A long time to read, but providing interesting perspective. Adam Smith is called the Father of Modern Economics. After reading his book, considered his magnum opus (great work), I have the following thought to share.

Smith discusses three types of people; those who make money by rent, by labor, and by employment of stock. With respect to the various laws each of these group tends to propose, he considers the likely merits. Those who make money by rent can only make money if the people who supply...more
Stephen
4.0 stars. I read this on my own in law school. I know, I know, who does that right? Well I obtained this as part of my Easton Press colleciton of "Books That Changed the World." I remember being really intrigued by the book and it made me more interested in the history of economics.
Dan
We know from experience that Smith's system is not complete unto itself. In fact, Smith himself would probably have admitted this. His references to ancient history and political philosophy would seem to show not only that he accepted that the territory of "statecraft" is not entirely contained within the borders of classical economics but also that he accepted the State's place alongside the Market as a fundamental, primordial feature of social existence.

That much being said, Smith deserves cre...more
Emre Poyraz
I would say that this is the most overrated book in economics. That does not mean that this book is without its merits, but I was definitely frustrated. Let me tell you why:

1. Smith, in various places in the book, criticizes merchantilists and others. However, since the average reader (even the average economist) has no knowledge of merchantilists and physiocrats, all his comments SEEM correct, whereas in fact they are just simplistic and unfair (merchantilists never confused wealth and money, a...more
Anna Esq.
Keeping in mind this book was published in 1776, the same year the US was founded, and that it is written in the language of the time, this is a thorough examination of how patterns of trade, currency, and growth occur. The foundation upon which all other economics books are written.

Stick this book in your bathroom and read one of the short little 12-page chapters every time you pay an extended visit. At over 1000 pages, it will take a while, but if you want to teach yourself how to debunk the f...more
Manny
Aug 27, 2014 Manny marked it as to-read
For some reason, the American Right tend to be as vehemently in favor of the Invisible Hand of the market as they are vehemently against the Invisible Hand of Darwinian selection. And the old USSR was exactly the same, except that they reversed the two positions.

Am I the only person who thinks this is just plain weird?
Michelle
Up there with the Bible as one of the most misquoted books of all time? I strongly suspect that most people who believe themselves to be disciples of Adam Smith have never actually read this book. Adam had no time for theoretical economic models and doctrinaire dog-eat-dog free market dogma. He was an empiricist and a moralist who believed people should be given the opportunity to make the best of themselves, but that the most vulnerable members of society should be taken care of by the group. H...more
Dolor Nocturno
Recuerdo una columna del diario La Nación que consistía en protestar de forma acérrima contra el intervencionismo del Estado, poniendo como ejemplo “La Riqueza de las Naciones”, de Adam Smith. Más allá de las ideologías, aquella directamente refunfuñaba contra cualquier tipo de impuestos. Directamente pedían abolir los impuestos. TODOS. Era el egoísmo en estado puro. Esto va de la mano de algo que escuché hace poco: “En toda sociedad DEBE haber gente pobre porque sólo así aparece el don de la ge...more
TarasProkopyuk
Несомненно то, что данная книга намного опередила своё время.

Адам Смит чётко и ясно обобщил и систематизировал столь сложные явления в экономике государства, а также нашёл множество взаимозависимых тенденций.

Книга поможет понять много сложных вещей и, возможно, вы сами научитесь им, и будете применять данные знания для умножения собственных материальных ценностей, и ценностей нашего общества.
kevin
The Wealth of Nations is an overview of economics by the Scottish philosopher Adam Smith around the time of the American Revolution. At the time of the writing, the popular ideology of economics was mercantilism - that is, countries should export as much products and import as much gold as possible. Hence, the somewhat strange title of the book. (The fact that "capitalism" and "economics" were not common phrases at the times doesn't help either)

Much of what the book says confirms what any Econom...more
Julie
My Summary:
The natural processes of a successful economy are found in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Although two hundred plus years old, Smith focuses on significantly profound and pertinent principles for any age. Stressing that regulations tend to limit prosperity and production, his extensive research of history and economics proves that a free market is an effective system in producing a wealthy nation. “The object of political economy of every country is to increase the riches and power o...more
Ibrahim Mahmoud
رأى سميث أن الوصول إلى الثروة هوالغاية الأساسية للاقتصاد، وكان للمواضيع التي تطرق إليها (العمل، القيمة، الريع، السعر، التوزيع..) أثر بالغ في تنظيم علم الاقتصاد السياسي.

اعتبر سميث أن ثروة كل أمة تقاس بقدرتها الإنتاجية، وتناول الإنتاجية كمقياس للثروة التي يمكن مضاعفتها بتقسيم العمل. واهتم بطرق توزيع الثروة في المجتمع ووسائل تنظيم التجارة وتقسيم العمل، إضافة إلى أطروحاته المتعلقة بحرية السوق واليد الخفية التي تساهم في دفع الحركة الاقتصادية وتشجيع الاستثمار، ودعوته إلى الحد من تدخل الدولة المباشر في...more
Anthony D Buckley
It is so easy, in the wake of Reaganesque and Thatcheresque economics to see The Wealth of Nations as a conservative tome. In fact, it has the whiff of radical thought about it, for it helped overturn an old world, and sought to liberate not only the businessman, but also the worker.
Elsie
Adam Smith you asshole.
Scott
Jan 07, 2009 Scott rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historians
Recommended to Scott by: Douglas Fowler
~Incredibly~ relevant for its impact and views on the time. Smith was incredibly insightful, and had much to say which applied to his application to the state-church influence on commerce, where individual economic freedom applied and how individual decisions weighed into meta-systemic concepts.

What I find baffling is the way many treat it as universal scripture instead of ideas to test and a view on a slice of time. Smith did not venture to produce a tome for all times nor a treatise on how thi...more
Jenny
I skimmed this rather than reading it really carefully, and was mostly surprised by how little it matches up with the contemporary view of Smith's work. A lot of things that people say about this book nowadays are wildly inaccurate, and a lot of people who use Smith to support their economic arguments have not, I suspect, actually read him. Many of the ideas set out here seem obvious, but I suspect that is only because they have been so widely used since he first introduced them. It is difficult...more
Daniel
Three things happened in 1776.

1. The Revolutionary war started (Declaration of Independence).

2. Watt's first steam engine powered Wilkinson's
iron foundry blowers.

3. Adam Smith published "The Wealth of Nations".
Jwongrb
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matt
Productivity and progress are the heart and lungs of Smith’s body economic. In pragmatic detail, he dissects the inner workings of 18th century mercantilism and makes his diagnosis. Then, in Frankensteinien fashion, he animates a new life of free market economics.

His ideas have become ingrained for the American modern reader. The notion of enlightened self-interest developing a dynamic economy is the ideological cornerstone for fiscally conservative Republicans. We also see corruptions of his ot...more
Kent
Smith's redundancy became too much for me. I stopped after about 75% of the total work. I acknowledge the familiar economic doctrines that undergirded the development of free markets and capitalistic thinking which permeate Smith's dialog. I accept the purported value and influence of his work in the science of economics. But, the 250 year-old language is, at best, confusing and tedious. I shall leave it to scholars of economics to digest and argue over Smith's meaning.

I was grateful enough for...more
Lynn
Book 1 (productivity)

Book 1 contains the famous Smith quote, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” This sums up why capitalism is the best economic system ever devised, and why Smith is considered the apologist for capitalism. Another quote emphasizes this point, “Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens”. Both of these quotes show how far r...more
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Although the exact date of Smith's birth is unknown, his baptism was recorded on 16 June 1723 at Kirkcaldy.

A Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. The latter, usually abbreviated as The Wealth of Nat...more
More about Adam Smith...
The Theory of Moral Sentiments  The Wealth of Nations, Books 1-3 The Invisible Hand An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Volume 1 The Essential Adam Smith

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