The Wealth of Nations
By Adam Smith
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This book has 3 recommendations
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysicist, Author & Science Communicator)Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on planet? [...] The Wealth of Nations (Smith) [to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself]. If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.
Barack Obama (Former USA President)Obama, unsurprisingly, appears to be more drawn to stories sympathetic to the working classes than is McCain. Obama cites John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle,” about a labor dispute; Robert Caro’s “Power Broker,” about Robert Moses; and Studs Terkel’s “Working.” But he also includes Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” and “Theory of Moral Sentiments” on his list.
David Heinemeier Hansson (Co-Founder/Basecamp)It’s hard to believe that Adam Smith wrote this tome in 1776! It’s written in such plain, if repetitive, language that it makes the basic economic theory easily accessible. That doesn’t mean it’s right. The book on Debt: The First 5,000 Years spent a fair chunk of time debunking many of Smith’s accounts of “the barter, truck, and exchange” cultures that supposedly were the rude state of man before the introduction of coinage. But the book is all the better from a read with a critical mind. It presents such a basic, plain description of capitalism and its functions that serves as a proper grounding for a critique. It’s also full of kinda hilarious deep dives into the exchange rates between silver and gold and other commodities set to 1770s prices.
The Wealth of Nations was published 9 March 1776, during the Scottish Enlightenment and the Scottish Agricultural Revolution. It influenced a number of authors and economists, as well as governments and organizations. For example, Alexander Hamilton was influenced in part by The Wealth of Nations to write his Report on Manufactures, in which he argued against many of Smith's policies. Interestingly, Hamilton based much of this report on the ideas of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, and it was, in part, Colbert's ideas that Smith responded to with The Wealth of Nations. Many other authors were influenced by the book and used it as a starting point in their own work, including Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo, Thomas
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