Erik's Reviews > On The Wealth of Nations

On The Wealth of Nations by P.J. O'Rourke
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's review
Aug 16, 2007

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This book should be a great thing: a quick, lively introduction to what Adam Smith said and--almost as importantly--what he didn't. I read it because I wondered whether it could be a useful supplement to my teaching parts of The Wealth of Nations this fall. At his best, O'Rourke accomplishes those goals admirably. He is a very good writer and often very funny, even when one disagrees with the basis of the humor. This book often veers too quickly from Smith to snark, however, without explaining the translation from Smith's points to their counterparts in modern situations, so the joking sometimes overwhelms the analysis.

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Drtaxsacto Smith was a complex and subtle thinker. I found that when I began to go through both books (unfortunately they should be read together - Wealth and Theory or Moral Sentiments) I found some of his complexities became more clear. There is a great summary of the Theory of Moral Sentiments on Econtalk - which is a downloadable podcast, in case you have to teach Smith again.

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