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Think Tank: The Story of the Adam Smith Institute [Paperback]

Madsen Pirie
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Price: 11.24 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 Feb 2012
In 1977 a new type of think tank opened its doors in Britain. It was to have an extraordinary influence on the political and economic life of the nation, and indeed on popular opinion. Spearheading a rejection of state planning and controls, the Adam Smith Institute helped put incentives and enterprise firmly back into the political mainstream. The nation turned its back on state ownership, trade union domination and on the idea that only government could direct an economy. The new passwords became opportunity, aspiration and the free market, as Britain reacquired a belief in itself and its future. Think Tank is the astonishing yet engaging story of how a handful of motivated individuals, without any backing or resources except their own conviction, managed to create a national institution that played a role in the transformation of a country.

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Think Tank: The Story of the Adam Smith Institute + Economics Made Simple (Harriman Economic Essentials)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback (16 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849541841
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849541848
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A pacey, engrossing tale of how rank amateurs with no resources, few friends but unshakeable belief created a powerful and highly original. --Nick Pearce, Progress Online

Think Tank is a book that every organisational entrepreneur ought to read to learn how vision can turn into reality even on a shoestring. --Young Briton's Foundation

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birth to adulthood in the free market of ideas 21 Mar 2012
Institutional histories are usually worthy but dull. This is neither: it replaces impersonal worthiness with personal engagement; and there is never a dull paragraph. "Think Tank" is written as crisply as Madsen Pirie speaks when introducing a guest at the ASI (Adam Smith Institute). Indeed, these 282 pages are as good an illustration as I have recently seen of Somerset Maugham's clinical definition: "The best style is the style you don't notice."

What you do notice is that the mistakes are given as much attention as the successes, especially the false starts in finding a secure financial basis for the ASI. What helped the infant survive was that it knew how to bawl. However, while noisy, the ASI realised that the media did not want sermons: clear two-sentence messages were the ideal. Succinctness has underpinned much of the ASI's effectiveness: a combination of politeness to audiences and of clean organizational lines, echoed in the strong, simple design of the book. Similarly, the strict rules of the ASI's "Power lunches" give the main guest just ten minutes to introduce the topic before opening up discussion around the table.

The other striking feature of the ASI is that it has attracted so many young people, often from non-European backgrounds. Kirkcaldy-born Adam Smith would be delighted that his ideas are flowing so freely across the generations and international boundaries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book 16 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book incredibly inspiring. So many good ideas explained very clearly. I strong recommend reading this book to anyone interested in politics or public sector reform.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Think Tank is a huge surprise. It reads like an adventure story, certainly not the dry history of some smug, self-satisfied think tank. It is an Operations Manual. It should be read by everyone who aspires to reform our economic and political process. Read it and learn what Madsen Pirie and Eamonn Butler did, and how they did it. Apply those lessons to how you can conduct political campaigning with a small team and a plan. Because what will surprise you is how much of what they had to fight against is still out there today, fighting back, and resisting reform. The battle is far from over, if it ever could be over. It is a constant struggle against a tide of vested interests that will oppose, delay, dilute and negate every step you want to take. Don't let it.

This book will inspire and empower every advocate of free-market, libertarian policies.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly critical 17 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Reviewing a book about one of the central formative experiences in your own life is off course fraught with dangers. The only reason I do it, is, that while I agree with the other reviewers on the qualities they mention, I have the special pleasure to testify that the book is indeed a reasonable description of the institute as it was when I worked there as an intern in the early to mid-eighties.
Considering that self-aggrandisement is such a common sin among those who work in politics, I find the book surprisingly critical of our activities. That is indeed a rare quality in memoirs and certainly not one you express in the thick of public debate.
Another quality is the introduction to practical libertarianism that lies submerged in the text and which has strong persuasive qualities. Socialists should beware,if they dare read it.
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