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Adam Smith: and the Pursuit of Perfect Liberty Hardcover – 13 Apr 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; Main edition (13 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861979053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861979056
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,491,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


James Buchan's new biography of Smith is particularly welcome...his writing is clear and jargon-free (Fund Strategy)

Buchan has produced a short, elegant biography (Money Week)

James Buchan's elegant prose sparkles on the page (New Statesman)

James Buchan's new book is an admirable and refreshing account of Adam Smith, his ideas and life (Eamonn Butler Adam Smith Institute)

concise, elegant and sympathetic biographical sketch...Buchan achieves his stated objective of illuminating Smith's thesis while employing "no jargon, philosophical or economical"...he has done Smith a service in absolving him of paternity for so much modern claptrap (The Spectator)

a finely written and thankfully short biography of the great Scottish economic theorist...Buchan is right to try to restore the philosophical Smith to the prominence he deserves (Matthew Lynn Bloomberg)

a short book, but it punches well above its weight: the perfect celebration of a man who did so much to alter modern economic thinking (Daily Telegraph)

Anyone interested in Smith could not fail to leave this biography without a new appreciation of the man... a superb little book (Glasgow Herald)

a succinct, elegant book, written in an easy, conversational tone which never makes its big ideas or profound implications seem intimidating (Sunday Telegraph)

A crisp and enjoyable biography of Smith ...... a carefully drawn affectionate portrait ... the book displays a mastery of the little details (Financial Times Magazine)


The Scottish Philosopher Adam Smith (1723-1790) was long ago adopted as the father of a neo-conservative ideology of unregulated business and small government. Politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan promoted Smith's famous 1776 book, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations" as the bible of Anglo-Saxon laissez-faire. In the past ten years, modernising leftists such as Gordon Brown have tried to kidnap Smith for the reformed socialism of Britain's New Labour. In this vigorous, crisp and informal book, James Buchan shows that Smith fits no modern political category and that much of what politicians and economists say about him is false. After twenty-five years of studying Smith and his world, Buchan shows that "The Wealth of Nations" and Smith's 1759 masterpiece, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments", are just the brilliant fragments of one of the most ambitious philosophical enterprises ever attempted: the search for a just foundation for modern commercial society both in private and in public. In a crowded and discontented world, this search is ever more urgent.

As befits the most accessible of all philosophers, this biography does entirely without jargon.

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Most helpful customer reviews on 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 reviews
H. Schneider
5.0 out of 5 starsDelightful little myth buster
5 April 2008 - Published on
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