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The Authentic Adam Smith: His Life and Ideas

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  44 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Celebrated author James Buchan breathes new life into Adam Smith's legacy and the beginnings of modern economics.
The Scottish philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790) has been adopted by neoconservatives as the ideological father of unregulated business and small government. Politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan promoted Smith's famous 1776 book, "An Inquiry i
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Hardcover, 198 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company
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3.34  · 
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 ·  44 ratings  ·  10 reviews


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Mark Desrosiers
Adam Smith had a strange head -- protruding teeth and an odd pendulum-tottering of his neck when walking.

He never used the "invisible hand" in any sense we now attribute to him.

His Theory of Moral Sentiments should be a more eternal and resonant text than the archaic pre-capitalist Wealth of Nations, which nobody reads and offers zero metaphors worthy of 2012.

This is a decent brief bio. You'll learn the above three things, also that spheroid causation-challenged David Hume was a chick-magnet.
EunSeong Hwang
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book certainly has its charms with the author sprinkling his own insight into the life of Adam Smith and his work, and it is written in an erudite fashion. Erudite, however, shouldn't mean dry and boring, which is how this slim volume reads. The author clearly has knowledge and depth in his subject, effortlessly weaving in both historical context and Smith's contemporaries in order to better understand the man and his work itself, but the prose made what could have been an excellent book in ...more
Clark
Sep 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
It took me over a month to read this slim folio. A typical author can bore you in 500+ pages; a good author in 400 pages; a great author in 300 pages; a true master in but 200 pages. Buchan managed to do it in about 150 pages. Just glad for it to be over. Materials was arranged fairly haphazardly for such a short book, neither topically nor chronologically. Smith emerges as nearly a complete mystery--David Hume receives a better biographical treatment in the book than Smith. Buchan's either a pe ...more
Manuel Sanchez
Jun 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, economics
A wonderful study of the life and works of Adam Smith, best know his "The Wealth of Nations" and "The Theory of Moral Sentiments". A contemporary of Ben Franklin, whom me met, as well as Voltaire, Rousseau and Karl Marx, the book is well documented and referenced placing Mr. Smith squarely in that period just before and following both the American and French revolutions.
"Smith was always uneasy about a society that is forever gaping at the rich and fortunate at the expense of the wise and the k
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Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
This was a good quick introduction to Adam Smith - a decent expansion from the material about his ideas I got in intro-level econ. While the material about his experiences lecturing at a Scottish university was interesting, the portion of the text that was concerned with his ideas left me feeling that I wasn't familiar enough with Smith's writing to evaluate some of the author's claims. It's not uncommon for me to find myself thinking that a given work of history or biography doesn't strike a su ...more
Gobasso
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, philosophy
As the review of this book makes clear Smith considered himself a philosopher not an economist. I've read Smith's "Theory of Moral Sentiment" and hope to read "The Wealth of Nations". Buchan does a good job of showing how a few ideas taken out of context from "The Wealth of Nations" misrepresent and undermine Smith's ethical and moral philosophy. A short pithy book that will make you view with scepticism the next conservative who justifies austerity with laissez faire capitalism or "the invisibl ...more
Jeffrey Williams
This book was a confusing read. Adam Smith led a fascinating life, but unfortunately it came across muddled in this work. I couldn't keep his itinerary straight from all the places he visited and some of the more important details were lost as a result of it.

The book was good in introducing a young Adam Smith to us, which was worth the read in and of itself, but I didn't get as much out of it as perhaps I thought I would have.
Nolan Gray
May 19, 2014 rated it liked it
A fine place to start on Adam Smith. Mainly a biography of the man rather than an exposition of his ideas, the book does a nice job of exploring Smith's intellectual/political context. Smith's relationship with David Hume and his role in the Scottish Enlightenment receive much deserved special attention. However, readers looking for an examination of the content of TMS and WON may want to look elsewhere.
Dave Peticolas
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it

A short biography of Smith, focusing on his two major works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and The Wealth of Nations.

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fine reading on Adam's Life.
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