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An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  28,329 ratings  ·  993 reviews
Adam Smith's masterpiece, first published in 1776, is the foundation of modern economic thought and remains the single most important account of the rise of, and the principles behind, modern capitalism. Written in clear and incisive prose, The Wealth of Nations articulates the concepts indispensable to an understanding of contemporary society; and Robert Reich's Introduct ...more
Leather Bound, 1264 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Arlington House (first published 1776)
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Spencer Gray The book that gave birth to classic economics. Whether you're for or against capitalism you can't discount this in depth look at one of the most influ…moreThe book that gave birth to classic economics. Whether you're for or against capitalism you can't discount this in depth look at one of the most influential economic theories of all time. This book rivals Das Capital in influence and stands the test of time as it remains more relevant than Marxist theory to modern economics. (less)

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May 07, 2012 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
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776.

The book offers one of the world's first collected descriptions of what builds nations' wealth, and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution,
Richard Fulgham
Apr 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Jon Nakapalau
One of the hardest books I have ever read - I feel overwhelmed as far as the concepts - so I will just make a general comment: If you want to understand the foundational concepts of economic policy and have the perspective of a true genius then this book is for you. It is SCARY how many situations Adam Smith predicted - and it is sad how little things have changed as far as the wealthy and the poor. If you read this book and Das Capital I would argue that you will be able to hold your own as far ...more
Erik Graff
May 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Aug 27, 2014 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?
Saadia B. || Hustle, Bustle and Hurdles
Oh this book was such a tiresome read that I finished 4 other books before completing this one.

Started to take toll on me with so much unnecessary explanations which made no sense. Sometimes cringe worthy!

Adam Smith was one of the few individuals who wanted the economic cycle to run itself. Hence he was in full support of market setting the momentum. But can we give such liberty to markets? With inflation, resources cramped within few hands and power politics his notion have failed to a large
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Update: I realized last night that I will never have a block of time uninterrupted by other books. I think I'm constitutionally incapable of reading only one book at a time. So I'm diving back into this one...actually restarting it...but with an unabridged edition this time. See you back here in a few months...or years.

This one requires a good deal of focus and a block of time uninterrupted by other books or major life events. I will get back to it, just not sure when.
Amit Mishra
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An erudite who not only changed the shape of economics thinking but also laid the foundation of capitalism and industrialization. The book by him can be regarded as The Bible of economics.
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
E. G.
Note on the Text
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Adam Smith and His Times

--An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [Abridged]

Explanatory Notes and Commentary
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
The Duke
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A text that's still relevant (and its main points still taught). The Wealth of Nations is far from a short read, but I feel like it's main points are pretty easy to sum up and since when they have been put into practice we have seen the results intended, it has maintained its importance.

Basically it states that producers are better off investing in capital and labor (creating a division of labor) so each laborer only has to specialize in one task, thus creating a far more efficient output. Ultim
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
People suggesting I read Adam Smith for an understanding of economic is something I find disgusting and offensive. Adam Smith was man who defended the very system of his time which allowed children as young as four or five to be sent down mines or up chimneys to horrific deaths. , worked women to death and made it legal for the bosses to rape them whenever they liked!
Adam Smith and Ludwig von Mises were therefore evil to the core!
11811 (Eleven)
This is a pillar of western civilization but not much fun so don’t read it unless you have to. A Wiki should give you more information than you need to know. The 7 hour abridged Audible edition gave me more far more info than I needed or wanted. Thank God that’s over.
Emre Poyraz
Feb 09, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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.
Andrew Obrigewitsch
One of the first and most quoted economics books in history. I must say that many of the quotes that come from this book are cherry picked, for example the invisible hand is mentioned one time and a minor aside, yet I heard about it many times in school, yet heard nothing about many of the other subjects discussed at great length in this book.

If you are interest in economics or politics at all I recommend reading this book.
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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".
Breinholt Dorrough
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The most influential book of all time. Every commodity and service we enjoy - from transportation to technology to cheaper metal production - has come because of those who have stood on the giant shoulders of Adam Smith.
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think everyone who claims to be a free market capitalist should read this book so as not to over-do it
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
Anna Merrill
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
I have had a bookmark mid way through this book for many a year now Reading it has been a surprise. Growing up through the 1980s I expected The Wealth of Nations to be the enthusiastic promotion of the Devil-take-the hindmost attitudes of those years and I expected it to be the herald of the coming industrial revolution. I have been wrong on both counts.

There is a deep sympathy for those at the bottom of society. Equally the society whose economic functions he was describing is a pre-modern one,
Fabian {Councillor}
(Discussed parts of it in school, so I know about most of Smith's major ideas, but I never read the actual book except for some segments.)
Czarny Pies
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone living in the 21st century.
Recommended to Czarny by: Robert Barber
The Wealth of Nations is an excellent work of the 18th Century enlightenment. It examines in a logical way that can be understood by any reader how government actions in commerce canharm the public interest.

For example if price controls are instituted because food costs too much in a city, supply will diminish radically as producers will take their crops to a different city. If a trading company (e.g. British India company) is given a monopoly over the trade from East Asia, then the price of tea
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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

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