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The Wealth of Nations [Hardcover]

By Adam Smith (Author) & Edwin Cannan (Editor)
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Item description for The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith & Edwin Cannan...

The classic eighteenth-century treatise on the principles of political economics

Publishers Description

Introduction by Robert Reich
Commentary by R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner
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 Introduction both clarifies Smith's analyses and illuminates his overall relevance to the world in which we live. As Reich writes, "Smith's mind ranged over issues as fresh and topical today as they were in the late eighteenth century--jobs, wages, politics, government, trade, education, business, and ethics."
Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide

"From the Trade Paperback edition."

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith & Edwin Cannan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 154

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Modern Library
Pages   1200
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.28" Width: 5.59" Height: 2.19"
Weight:   2.4 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 25, 1994
Publisher   Modern Library
ISBN  0679424733  
ISBN13  9780679424734  

Availability  36 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 25, 2016 01:22.
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More About Adam Smith & Edwin Cannan

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Adam Smith (1723-90) was born inGlasgow and educated at Glasgow and Oxford. Two years after his return to Scotland, Smith moved to Edinburgh, where he delivered lectures on Rhetoric. In 1751 Smith was appointed Professor of Logic at Glasgow, but was translated to chair of Moral Philosophy in 1752. His The Theory of Moral Sentiments was published in 1759 and The Wealth of Nations in 1776, the same year as the Declaration of Indpendence.

Andrew Skinner teaches at the Adam Smith Institute and is an expert on the author's work.


Adam Smith was born in 1723 and died in 1790.

Adam Smith has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Dover Philosophical Classics
  2. Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics
  3. Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith
  4. Great Minds Series
  5. Modern Library (Hardcover)
  6. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  7. Oxford World's Classics (Paperback)
  8. Penguin Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Economics > Economic History
2Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Economics > General
3Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Economics > Theory
4Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > General
5Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > Colonial Period > General
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Wealth of Nations?

Monumental Importance  May 18, 2008
The Wealth of Nations is one of the most important books ever written. In some respects the Wealth of Nations was a tract for the times. Smith penned a crippling critique of the mercantilist `Policy of Europe'. Smith, along with David Hume and David Ricardo, refuted the mercantilist case for protectionism. Much of what we read in this book is still taught in modern economics classes. Modern day protectionists still have no answer to the principles of absolute and comparative advantage, and for the basic logic of Hume's specie flow mechanism.

Smith was more than an ordinary economist. He was a visionary who saw some of the potential for progress through Globalization. Perhaps the most important concept of this book is the dynamics between division of labor, labor productivity, and the extent of markets. Smith conceived of Globalization as a process that would raise productivity as local markets expanded to national and then international scope. His example of division of labor in a pin factory is simple, but illustrative.

The most widely known part of this book is that part of the `invisible hand of markets'. Invisible hand reasoning still pervades modern economic theory, though there are some variations in how economists interpret this concept. Smith does differ from Modern economists on certain issues. Smith thought of competition as a process and of monopoly as a government grant of privilege. In these areas Smith was ahead of many modern economists. Smith also explained market prices in terms of labor content. Here is Smith's great error. Labor value theory set economics on the wrong course. Labor value theory served as the basis for Marxism. This, of course, indicates the great influence of The Wealth of Nations on world history. Without labor value theory the Marxist idea of exploitation falls apart. Smith therefore played a posthumous role in twentieth century history, especially from 1918 to 1991. Of course, we cannot blame Smith for the misuse of his ideas. Smith would have surely opposed Marxism, had he been alive to do so.

What we have in this book is a tremendous effort at discovering the proper limits between private and public institutions. Better still, Smith thought about society and institutions in evolutionary terms. This is another reason why the Wealth of Nations is preferable to modern economics texts. Smith understood the dynamics of capitalism better than many modern economists- who focus on static math models. Smith also influenced Charles Darwin with his ideas of social evolution. There is much evidence indicating that Darwin got the idea for the evolution of species by reading The Wealth of Nations. Smith therefore had great influence on the biological sciences.

Modern economists reject Smith labor value theory (ever since Menger refuted it in 1870). However, there is no denying the influence of The Wealth of Nations. All members of the educated public should read at least part of this book. The question then in which edition should you buy? The Liberty Classics edition is unabridged. The Modern Library Classics edition has margin notes that could be helpful. Given the affordability of these editions, you might consider have both on your bookshelf (I do). I would avoid the Great Mind Series altogether. The Wealth of Nations should be read because it is both a book of great historical importance and a good source for understanding modern Globalization. The labor value theory part precludes a five star rating, but anything less than four stars would be absurd.
Great to know but a burden to read  Mar 26, 2008
Not even Miami Beach could make me enjoy reading this book.

This book is over 200 years old and the economic system has changed a lot since then. So why should you read it then? Because most economic fundamentals are being described in this book and give you great insight in understanding the current market more. Let's just hope they don't connect Wall Street to the price of grain anymore.

It's a classic. It's a must read for economic studies. But it's a burden for the common man with his feet in the sand.
a classic  Jul 20, 2007
It's a big book, but not in any way complicated. In a nutshell, it details the mechanisms by which personal liberty -- accompanied by personal responsibility and a just system of government -- make nations, and the individuals who live in them, wealthy. I had a Marxist professor who did not like Adam Smith because Marxist theory prefers to emphasize class warfare, while Smith is saying that everyone is capable of providing for themselves and the less the government interferes, the better off we all are. Many conservatives, meanwhile, like Adam Smith because they seem to perceive a "survival of the fittest" philosophy in his works. They are both wrong.

Really, The Wealth of Nations ought to be read along with Smith's other classic, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Together, the message in them is that government should leave people alone as much as possible, but people ought to exercise that liberty without greed.
hard to find a serviceable edition  Jul 7, 2007
"The Wealth of Nations" is more readable than you probably think, and if you actually sit down to it you'll be repeatedly astounded by Smith's shrewdness.

But parts of Smith's original can be tough going in many ways. Why don't publishers acknowledge this by coming out with something more helpful than just the raw text?

Unfortunately, finding an edition that will be of great use to you is problematic. That's why I'm giving this book 1 star: not for the text itself, but rather for the paucity of well-done printings out there.

Anyhow. I have three before me:

1. The "Modern Library Classics" edition, the one you see on this page. This is complete and unabridged in a single volume, and has a handsome, sturdy feel to it. There is a 4-page introduction and a well-done index, but what irks about this edition is that while it has a plethora of footnotes, all the footnotes are of the "textual comparison" variety (e.g., "12 Car. II., C. 32"), rather than the kind that really help you understand antiquated terms and convoluted wordings. In other words, you'll get no help from the editors here.

2. Then there is the barren Wealth of Nations (Great Minds Series). There is a 2-page introduction at the beginning and an index, but beyond that it's nothing more than the original text, complete with the original punctuation and spellings (neither of which has been made more merciful for the modern reader).

3. The Penguin Classics edition, in two volumes: The Wealth of Nations: Books 1-3 (Penguin Classics) and The Wealth of Nations, Books IV-V (Penguin Classics). This is probably the least worst edition I have seen, with a superb introduction (nearly 100 pages long), and a glossary, all done by Glasgow's Andrew Skinner. But the only footnotes in the text itself are apparently Smith's own. They appear directly on the bottom of the page in question.

So good luck, whichever one you choose.

In case you need to know, Smith's original consists of five long chapters, or "books."

If anybody has a more respectable edition at hand, please comment and I'll incorporate it into this review.
Free trade and pro biz  Jan 25, 2007
Great study material - very difficult read, but a must read that should be taught in high school.
Buy this if you support free trade, less government, and the American dream. Beware, this books represents everything a liberal opposes, ideals which are deeply hated by those who support liberal gods like Barak Hussein Obama and Miss H. Rodham.

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