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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic economic text - and more; hard going but rewarding
An abridged version of the five volumes comprising "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations", first published in 1776 on the eve of the American War of Independence, there are nevertheless 454 pages in this edition, supported by a forty-five page introduction and almost 150 pages of notes.

The introduction, by Kathryn Sutherland, explains...
Published on 27 Feb. 2009 by Nicholas J. R. Dougan

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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a great edition
Nice binding, cover, typesetting. It's only missing one thing - the contents: unfortunately this edition only contains the first four books. Book five, which deals with taxation has been omitted in order to release a lower priced, single volume edition.
Published on 12 Jan. 2004 by MICHAEL CONNELL


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic economic text - and more; hard going but rewarding, 27 Feb. 2009
By 
Nicholas J. R. Dougan "Nick Dougan" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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An abridged version of the five volumes comprising "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations", first published in 1776 on the eve of the American War of Independence, there are nevertheless 454 pages in this edition, supported by a forty-five page introduction and almost 150 pages of notes.

The introduction, by Kathryn Sutherland, explains the structure of Smith's argument across those five volumes and why she included those elements that she did. It situates Smith's work in the intellectual context of the time. Sutherland, interestingly, is not an economist but a specialist in bibliography and textual criticism, and this may explain her greater interest in the background to Smith's ideas than in identifying the originality of his thought. As her excellent notes make clear, Smith drew on the work of many earlier writers. One of Smith's most famous examples, illustrating the importance of the division of labour into specialised but simpler tasks, pin making, is traced to an essay published by Denis Diderot in Paris in 1755. Much of his thinking on the nature of money was based on theories of John Locke writing almost a century earlier. It was interesting to discover so many of Smith's examples from the economy in the remoter parts of Scotland, often used as an example of a less developed economy than in England, were based on observations by Dr Samuel Johnson, notwithstanding that Adam Smith himself was a Scotsman, and Johnson an (adopted) Londoner who famously quipped that the finest sight in Scotland was the road to England! David Hume, Thomas Hobbes, du Halde, Mandeville are also extensively referenced, and Smith's many references to the classics and to trades and professions long since forgotten are fully explained.

In the context of the credit crunch of 2008, one particularly germane section of Volume II explains the development of "promissory bills" - paper money. That bankers might lend as many as five times their deposits of silver and gold was sustainable and useful, Smith said. Money, he argued, had no intrinsic value, even if it were gold or silver, but it was the "wheel of circulation" that facilitated the faster creation of value, and the creation of additional money through paper notes allowed for more rapid economic development than in an economy limited by the availability of precious metal coinage. It seems, from recent experience, that twenty times might be going too far!

I hate to think how many times I referred to Wealth of Nations back in school and university history essays without ever having read it. It is generally regarded as the first economics text, although, it much more than that, being also an historical explanation of the stages of economic development, an approach that was a precursor of Karl Marx's analysis, and a thesis on personal liberty and the proper role of government. It is rewarding to study the original, but it is not easy going. While Smith wrote clearly, I found myself having to re-read passages frequently to get my head around his long sentences and complicated structure. While the words he uses are, in the main still ones in common usage, I did realise that they were often invested with subtly different meanings. It is this, rather than any technical complexity of the underlying economics, that makes this a challenging read. Not for the faint hearted, but a rewarding read for those interested in economics and economic history. It is, as the series name suggests, a "World Classic". If, however, you want to get a rapid grasp of Smith's thinking, you might well be better to read a modern commentary.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a great edition, 12 Jan. 2004
Nice binding, cover, typesetting. It's only missing one thing - the contents: unfortunately this edition only contains the first four books. Book five, which deals with taxation has been omitted in order to release a lower priced, single volume edition.
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71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A useful crash course on Adam Smith's discourse, 22 Sept. 2008
By 
Gaurav Sharma (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Paperback)
I can only describe this particular edition of Wealth of Nations as a useful crash course on Adam Smith's discourse, mindful of the fact that there were five editions of this historically significant work. But then that's the beauty of this condensed compendium.

Most editions available in the market draw on Smith's Wealth of Nation Volume I (Of the causes of improvement), Volume II (Of the Nature, Accumulation, and Employment of Stock) and Volume III (Of the different Progress of Opulence in different Nations) at the most. However, this edition contains healthy inclusions from Book IV (Of Systems of political Economy) and Book V (Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth). For this alone, the editor Kathryn Sutherland deserves credit.

It is not a mouthful but a practical handy book on Wealth of Nations. Those who have never studied economics would enjoy reading it too if they are so inclined, especially students of history and philosophy. Since this is a complex work authored over two hundred years ago, the editor's footnotes and references enhance comprehension.

Yet the wonderful details of Smith's key thoughts have not been stifled in any way - working of the markets, division of labour, general prosperity, government and taxation are all there. In essence, Wealth of Nations remains a true classic and I found this edition of it to be an easy and enjoyable read. Overall, its a handy reference book to have on your bookshelf.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seminal work from the father of economics, 25 May 2007
By 
Rolf Dobelli "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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Nobody seriously involved in economics can do without this exhaustive work, originally published in five volumes as An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. This classic is a pragmatic and accessible milestone in the history of economics. Its author, Adam Smith, is woven into every economics textbook. However, Smith's theories, which today often are recounted mostly in fragments, frequently incorrectly, reveal their entire social and economic innovative power only in context. Smith burst onto the scene at a time when absolutist national states monopolized the world's precious metal reserves and tried to increase their own wealth through stringent export policies. These states were motivated by an entirely new concept about national wealth: that it stemmed from the work of the country's people, not from gold. Based on that idea, economic markets should balance themselves as if guided by an "invisible hand," impelled by each individual's self-interest. The state has to provide only an orderly framework and specific public goods and services. Even though Smith's image of idealized economic and social harmony may have developed a few cracks over the course of time, his ideas have inspired many well-known economists during the past 250 years, including David Ricardo, Vilfredo Pareto, Friedrich August von Hayek and Milton Friedman. We highly recommend this seminal work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economic Fundamentals, 1 Jan. 2011
By 
Colin Wilks - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wealth of Nations (Hardcover)
A classic in its own right, anyone - teachers, reporters, newscasters, politicians, union leaders and company directors especially - who have responsibility for jobs, money and economic growth, this deeply reasoned and soundly conceived work should never be more than an arms length away. Written in technical, formal English and presented as 'five' books, the underlying common-sense of the whole makes it an attractive purchase. I cannot pretend to grasp every nuance that Adam Smith authored but I can see that the mining of this book overtime will not only sharpen the mind but the sharpening will also serve welfare greatly: greatly because if the principles of this book are put into even moderate practice then decision-making will scale new heights. In short, this book reveals how much we have forgotten, not least in the management of finance and capital. The notable quotes at the front of the book invite the turning of the 600 pages that follow. For me, I liked the chapter on the Employment of Capitals, not least because it brings home the lesson that there is a vast difference between consumption and productivity, that welfare is served when the stock of capital is put to work alongside 'useful labour' - in partnership - so that capital and effort are properly rewarded. From this narrow but essential perspective, let me conclude by observing that there is history in this great work, so it ought to appeal to readers who interests are wider that economic well being.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Short change for the Wealth of Nations?, 2 Oct. 2009
The product is fine as far as it goes, but the trouble is it doesn't go far enough.

What the catalogue entry fails to mention is that this edition of The Wealth of Nations, unlike its two-volume paperback competitor, includes only Books I-IV. It is only once you have got hold of the book, and have read almost to the end of the Introduction, that you find that Book V has been omitted "to keep the cost down". Book V essentially contains the information for which my copy was purchased. Had I known this in advance, I would probably have purchased the two-volume paperback edition, thus adding to Mr Amazon's income stream.

Alternatively, you can do as I did and download Book V (or indeed the whole thing) free of charge to read on your ebook or your PC.

I have no complaints about Amazon's service, which worked very well.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Capitalism by it's first advocate, 13 July 1998
By A Customer
This 18th Century book is a well-reasoned broadside against mercantilism and state-run monopolies. Suprisingly, it is incredibly easy-to-read, even compared to modern fiction novels, and you can just open it and let your eyes fall where they may. Vital reading for those who promote or oppose the free-market. Read about capitalism from a temperate, intellectual proponent, rather than a right-wing extremist or left-wing radical. Also, important details on the living standards of the factory worker in 18th Century England from someone who actually lived in those times, rather than biased guesswork on the part of later 19th Century writers - it'll change your perspective!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't ignore Adam Smith, 27 Jun. 2014
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Adam Smith is not just for right-wing, tea party conservatives in Europe or North America.
I recommend you read this 18th Century economist. Like the Physiocrats before him Adam Smith proposes some pretty radical ideas. He advocates road pricing in the form of tolls to pay for road maintenance. I love this quote: "When the toll upon carriages of luxury, coaches, post-chaises etc. is made somewhat higher ....... than upon carriages of necessary use, such as carts, wagons etc. the indolence and vanity of the rich is made to contribute, in a very easy manner, to the relief of the poor, by rendering cheaper the transportation of heavy goods to every part of the country."
He also advocates a land value tax to be beneficial to the economy rather than taxes on trade or production. In his view taxes on trade and production distort the creation of wealth whereas an annual tax on land rent will be neutral (and we now know that by encouraging the use of empty buildings and idle land would actually be beneficial: see [...]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bad edition of a good book, 6 May 2011
This edition has no index. I've never seen the kind of Table of Contents before: you need to open each page of the 690 page book to know what each chapter discusses. Don't buy this edition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Going ..., 8 May 2011
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One of the most influential and greatest books ever written - but what a drag! I could not recommend this for a general read to anyone. The information in this book is second to none and you can do like I did and skip the many pages of commodity prices over the centuries! The social and economic information is fascinating, and there are many little treasures to be read, for example, how unpopular bankers were even in the 18th Century by paying customers out large sums of money in pennies to prevent a run on the bank! For those who have a professional interest in social, economic and political life this of course is a "must" read, however, for the lay person I would not recommend you bother with this but instead pick up a general book on the subject that maybe outlines Adam Smith and his writings in todays language. This is extremely heavy going ... and very very very verbose!
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