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

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  33,932 ratings  ·  1,113 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
Paperback, 1076 pages
Published January 1st 1977 by University Of Chicago Press (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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Szplug
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
...more
Scott
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
...more
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,
...more
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
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
...more
Manny
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?
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
...more
Saadia B. ||  CritiConscience
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
...more
Anne
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.
...more
Jacqueline
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.
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.
Michelle
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
Gary
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!
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
...more
Dave
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
Naia Pard
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Every tax, however, is to the person who pays it, a badge not of slavery, but of liberty. It denotes that he is subject to government, indeed; but that, as he has some property, he cannot himself be the property of a master." p.857 Madams et Messieurs, Adam Smith, the father of capitalism.

The first thing that intrigued me about this book (besides being the test of intelligence in one of the episodes of Killing Eve-seriously, at one point, Villanelle was disguised and the man in which home she i
...more
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.
Michael Perkins
How the message of this book was falsified by removing an important chapter.

The entire edifice of modern mainstream economic theory has effaced the emphasis that enlightenment thinkers placed on economic fairness and accountability for corporate crime, thus legitimizing unfair, exploitative and often violent practices. A keystone is Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. This study has been used to support some of economics’ most comforting narratives, includin
...more
Mehrsa
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
J
Mar 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Like swallowing a sponge, but helpful if you can stomach it.
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
...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. ...more
Bradley
Jul 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
After more than half a lifetime of being told that Adam Smith was one hell of a brilliant man and he should be a must-read for anyone wanting to understand what capitalism really means, I FINALLY went ahead and READ Wealth of Nations.

Okay. So I'm a bit late for the party. I've read the Kensians and I've read tons of books on how the Chicago school really f**ked up so many developing nations and I've been a student of the stock market, global economy, and how it directly ties to history. It's a
...more
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.
Xander
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whoa! I'm actually finished with this thing! It took me three days off and some evenings of fully committing myself to reading this monster. But I'm not disappointed, not in the least.

Adam Smith's most famous book (but maybe not his most important, read on) The Wealth of Nations (published in 1776) comes in two volumes and spans more than 1000 pages. Smith is a gifted writer and a brilliant scientist, and this shows on each page: the book is (surprisingly) written very well, for an eighteenth ce
...more
Dan
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
...more
Garret Macko
While there are any number of ways that a book can be read, there are a few that come to mind first, and they are probably the most common angles from which readers digest the books they read. First, there is reading that comes from an academic perspective—this ranges from a high school English class’s reading of To Kill a Mockingbird to a professor of literature’s laborious and systematic study of Moby Dick. Next, there is reading that comes from a non-academic utility-based perspective like, f ...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
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
...more
Abe
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.
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Most famous observation in all of economics 1 13 Aug 19, 2018 08:38AM  
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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

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