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The Wealth of Nations, Books 1-3

(The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  575 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Originally delivered in the form of lectures at Glasgow, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations Books I-III laid the foundations of economic theory in general and 'classical' economics in particular, and this Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Andrew Skinner.

The publication of The Wealth of Nations in 1776 coincided with America's Declaration
Paperback, 544 pages
Published February 25th 1982 by Penguin Classics (first published 1776)
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3.97  · 
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 ·  575 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Brandon Colligan
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith is a collection of three books on different subjects in economic theory, marketing philosophy and economics. All of these books contain numerous subjects. The first book is titled "Of the Causes of Improvement in the productive Powers of Labour". This book talks about the division of labor and how certain professions buy and sell more and have a greater output in a market. This book also talks about the importance of stock and wages in a company. The second ...more
Sandra Simmons
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adults 25+
Shelves: biz-books
The Wealth of Nations is not an easy read, but it is the best, most truthful look at industrial and geopolitical finance, capitalism and free-market functionality ever written.

If you have ever wondered why something that occurs in some far off land can have an economic impact felt round the world, then the answer can be found in this book.

Bob Nichols
Smith's "unseen hand" was, apparently, mentioned only once in The Wealth of Nations, but the essential notion is implicit throughout the book. We are self-interested beings at our core, Smith argues. In an economic exchange, benefit comes not from benefice - good-hearted concern for others - but, rather, from the desire for mutual gain. Spontaneous order results from each seeking their own value. Self-interest, promoted this way and magnified to a nation-scale, promotes the interest of the whole ...more
Niall Fitzpatrick
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A very challenging but rewarding read. I did start it before but found this edition much easier to stick with. I read a lot about economic history already but the genius of Adam Smith is his passive explications of every day trade in its influencing conditions. The book can be numbingly in-depth, porridge for the mind but there in lies its goodness, its intellectual nourishment. So many economics books are just reactions to the zietgeist of the times in which they're published but Smiths work is ...more
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the work, published in 1776, that transformed the economy of the Western world from mercantilism to capitalism, setting the stage for the global economy today. Adam Smith, a Scottish economist, purposely coincided the publishing of his book with the founding of the United States of America, which he determined would be the principal laboratory for his grand economic experiment. Smart guy...
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle schoolers and above
Read it to vet the deception in rhetoric:-
The Wealth of Nations almost sparked a revolution in its time 1776. Adam Smith is considered the father of modern economics. I read this book for researching economics which started merely as an art, and is now a cryptic science ,the very foundation of "business". Book is artfully written. it is a weaving of words to cast a spell .
This book was supposed to be an intellectual attempt to appeal people's sense of morality , communal harmony etc to get the
Lindsey Buck
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating read for an economist. It is the basis for many pieces of theory and models that are standard in neoclassical teachings. However, reading it gives you a better insight into Adam Smith than many modern economists do. Although he was a free market capitalist, he recognized some very important things that standard theory doesn't: the rent of land being an unproductive gain (I do believe he'd agree with Henry on a rent tax) and the great inequality caused by "entails" (he'd cer ...more
David Mytton
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most interesting thing for me was how much of what Adam Smith said just seemed like common sense. Of course, that is only the case because of Admin Smith! This work is really the canonical text on how the economy works and has defined what common sense (in the realm of economics) has become.

As I started to read the ~85 "Analytical Introduction", I realised that it was actually analysing what was to come, so I think it is better to read the main books first and then come back to the introduct
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Don't. Read excerpts.
It's a dull book – not a criticisms of its ideas, what it's led to, or anything like that, but to read it today, without a direct interest, is tedious. Good start, nice bit about banking in book 2, some interesting history in book 3, but overall it's longwinded. Areas where it comes to point in a succinct manner are the exception and the style is nothing remarkable.
Nandini Goel
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Wealth of Nations - Book 1 to 3" by "Adam Smith" is one of the most popular treatise on economics,I have read and maybe that I ever will read. Adam Smith has been considered as the father of Modern Economics. Well, in the first 3 books which I have read now, there is a myriad knowledge on Economics which is quite relatable to the present day world. Although, this book has been written around 1770's but still much of it's principles are applicable even today. The reason I conclude for this is ma ...more
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good introduction to thinking about The Wealth of Nations. By the way, I love the Baroque keyboarding that separates chapters, very 1980's.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was a tough read but I finished it.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
As a layman in economics, I have to stand in awe of this book. This is mainly for two reasons:

First and foremost, the book is extremely accessible and simple to read. By this I do not mean that to understand what the author preaches one just has to read it all the way, like the average fantasy story; some questions, if not all, deserve and require the reader to think for himself so that he can form a correct picture of the dynamics of Smith's economics as a whole, and not just "listen" to his ar
Ouvrage économique du milieu du 18eme d'un professeur de philosophie écossais. Il développe les idées de division du travail et d'utilisation du capital pour stimuler la prospérité de tous, tout en étant conscient des inégalités que ça entraine. C'est écrit avec vigueur : Smith ne cache pas son mépris à l'égard de la noblesse, qui va céder inexorablement le pas à la bourgeoisie. Je trouve le sujet parfois aride, voir déprimant, mais l'auteur parviens à éclaircir son propos en étant très didactiq ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Note: this is a combined review for 2 sets of books

Wow, what can I say, let me first tell you am writing this review based on reading all his books 1-5, so Ive copied this review in to the other book set, but seriously, I wanna congratulate anybody who has read this book and has had the will power and patience to finish them off, because mines was certainly tested, luckily for me, I got the audiobook versions of all 1-5 books of adam smith, but even then, it must have taken 20hours+ to listen th
Aaron Hutmacher
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading books from many of our countries founders. Adam Smith is essential to America's History. I enjoyed the first part of the book the most as it discussed the origins of money. I also like the fact that Adam Smith gives several examples. There are many notable quotes within the book. "The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange."
"A person who can acquire no property, can have no other interest but to eat as much, and to labor as lit
Rob Mills
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
It's a classic.. I like classics. It's the seminal capitalist work.. and I'm a capitalist.
.. but I still didn't like it. I've read so many works on finance and economics that I found all of it very dry and the explanations labourious. I just couldn't transport myself back in time to appreciate that he was likely introducing many ideas for the first time.
The (100pg) introduction was interesting and highlighted that Adam Smith's real contribution was his focus on division of labour. This is such
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prior to this study, most Nation's wealth was a crude measure of gold/silver bullion held by the state; Smith, however, described the wealth of a nation as the totality of production by the citizens and industries of the state.

While this publication is essential to the development of neoclassical economics, most of its ardent fans tend to cherry pick the elements that support their particular version of "the way the world should be."

Fortunately, Smith was more complex than most people recogniz
Alex Milledge
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really like Smith's book because it is a much easier economy read to follow. It reads better than say keyne's general theory of money and employment, and contains an evaluation of history through economics.

I don't find anything I disagree with Smith on, because I don't contain enough info on economics to critique him, but I've heard that some concepts of classical theory have been refuted by modern economists like Keynes. Again, don't know the exact differences from classical than the modern,
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
These books need to be read by people concerned about the economic paths society is taken. Smith, when read, is being abused by current economic ideologues, who cite him as a model while ignoring all the issues Smith was strongly against or for that do not suite free-market ideology.

Smith would be appalled at current monetary policy, and believed that unions were the only way that labour had a chance in the labour market.
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While both volumes exceed 1,000 pages, certainly making it my most voluminous read prior to attending Cambridge, Adam Smith's ideologies and views shaped by his exploration/analysis/musings on the intersections of human psychology, philosophy, and economics,and in particular his views regarding self-interest vs. selflessness -- in my view -- form the cornerstone of his thought-leadership, and what I could personally relate to the most.
Chris Cyr
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this once in high school and remembered thinking that it was the most boring thing ever. Recently a presentation I saw on the book sparked my interest in it again. I picked it up expecting to only read a bit of it, but reference it a lot. What I realized is that it's a really good philosophy book that happens to explain economic theory.
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I wanted to read it as it is a classic but the problem i have is it is not relevant to our future. the world is changing and we need another format !
So for reference to why we go boom and bust and thrive on gluttony then yes its the basis of all that is wrong with out bankrupt morally and financially state of nations !
Ben Kearvell
Feb 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Political economy says as much about individuals as it does about society, and as much about psychology as it does about money (or what money can purchase). Man makes money. Money makes man. Man creates value and man is subject to values. He knows himself by what he is worth. His identity,then, is a stock in trade, and, conditions permitting, a kind of capital he can build upon.
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
This audio CD with its voice characterizations transports you back to the 18th century and analyzes Adam Smith's foundational arguments for a capitalist, free market economy. Much shorter than the lengthy, complex tome it analyzes.
Antonio Velazquez
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Classic economics book from the father of Capitalism. A must read for every free thinker.
Larry Head
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A massively relevant book to anyone wondering why things are going the way they are economically...and to think it was written by an Englishman in the 1800's...
Wealth of Nations is hard enough to get through without being described by voice actors with very thick accents. Will make no attempt to finish.
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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

Other books in the series

The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (5 books)
  • Correspondence
  • Lectures on Rhetoric & Belles Lettres
  • Lectures on Jurisprudence
  • Essays on Philosophical Subjects (Works & Correspondence)
“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 self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages” 117 likes
“The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public ... The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order ... ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined ... with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men ... who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public” 27 likes
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