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on 13 February 2009
The book is extremely readable although published way back in 1776 (the same year as the American War of Independence). The language is clear and easy to understand, making you feel as if you are reading a contemporary author rather than someone who lived around 250 years ago.
The notes provided by Kathryn Sutherland make reading the book even more fascinating and instructive. Concepts that are strange to us (the feudal system, for example) are explained clearly and concisely.
Smith paints a very clear picture of the times he lived in and we get wonderful descriptions of the thrusting American colonies; the little-industrialised France; and under-developed China.
Smith is generally against anything that hinders trade and recommends that markets be as free as possible, but to associate him with more modern monetarist theories is quite unfair.
The Wealth of Nations takes a long time to read, but if you want to understand our current crisis properly, it is essential reading.
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on 8 May 2011
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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on 23 January 2014
The reviewer who says this edition is abridged is wrong - the Wordworth Editions website says the book was labled 'abridged' on the book's cover in error - and this will be corrected in future editions.

Much of the book is impenetrable - not to say at times boring. But it can also be entertaining and very interesting. At least 20% of the book is very readable - principally these sections:-

Book 1 Chapter 1, 2 and 3 - pages 9 to 26
Book 3 all four chapters - pages 372 to 414
Book 4 chapter 7 part I - pages 551 to 560
and part III - pages 586 to 639
pages 656 - 660 (begining with the words “The exportation...”)
Book 5 Chapter 1, Parts 1 - pages 691 to 708
and Part 2 - pages 708 to 721
and Part 3- Article 2 - pages 758 to 784
pages 951 - 954 the last pages in the book (begining with words: “It is not contrary...”)
These pages have as much to do with history and sociology as they have to do with economics.
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on 29 March 2011
Thinking it was going to be a dry economic text I was pleasantly surprised to discover some of the principles upon which Smith had founded his theories. It's idea that a country should seek to develop its own agricultural and food basis was particularly interesting and ahead of its time (considering the growing importance of envirnoment issues in this day and age). Butler - Bowdon's commentery was also invaluable - helped clarify the content of book and neatly identified the key themes.
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on 17 March 2010
It's hard to form opinions on economic matters when there are so many good and varied views out there about the our current woes. Smiths book gets to basic stuff, day to day trading that our life depends on. Many passages in this book jump out because of their current day resonance, even though they were written long ago. Although it might feel like an unfocused ramble through through a bygone era, the basic truths of supply and demand, the workings of monopolies and the wages of labour, the clarity and easy language used make it a refreshing read. Easy to dip in and out of, and always interesting no matter what page you open.
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on 21 December 2015
Bought this book for my son in law for Christmas and he loved it. The book arrived in excellent condition and didn't have to wait too long for it. He said he had wanted the book for a while and that it was a very interesting read.
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VINE VOICEon 13 February 2017
All my life I’ve been bombarded with one economist versus another. Each time Adam Smith always showed up. So after hearing snippets of his book and his ideas over and over and over again I thought “Ah, I know Adam Smith.”

Well I might’ve been a tad premature in thinking that I knew Adam Smith. As you will to when you read this book, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.”

I figured that it was finally time to read Adam Smith for myself instead of taking snippets out of context.

At first I began to think that I had made a big mistake. If you read the Constitution of the United States that you would notice that you are always told the impressive parts as separate statements and they leave out all the boring details and sometimes important minutia. Well it looks like they did the same thing the poor Adam.

On the surface as you start reading this book you start to wonder what makes Adam Smith so important, as it seems so primitive. Reading on you realize that he came from an era that was way before the information age. His samples seem primitive and simple. He repeats and repeats and repeats himself. You start to wonder if this is the same Adam Smith that you studied in school.

You will want to hang in there though as soon you will realize that Adam Smith had to start with the fundamentals of history and primitive economics. After pages of history he will finally get to his time.

Yes this is a book is ancient and the examples are not usually relevant to today. However just as you decide that you made a horrible mistake in reading “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” small jewels of insight into not only economics, and history but life itself reveals itself in his everyday descriptions and observations.

I had to buy a book on the English poor laws as the aforementioned like everybody knew about them. Many other subjects and reference books all of a sudden appeared on my desk as I realized that with all the depth of Adam Smith this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yes sometimes Smith can get boring and very redundant. However whatever you do do not skip any pages is just as soon as you know what is going to say he comes up with another interesting angle.

He not only covers economics from his version of a practical view, soon he covers the history of education, and many other subjects besides commerce. I found that he covers the effect of religions on people and people on religions. He covers schools and how they got started and their potentials for modifying society. He covers economics of war and other major world changing phenomena.

Just as you think he is talking about his world and his time. You pick up a newspaper and see the very same type of the events and economic arguments.

For me of all things I was able to get a new view of national debt and it changed my view from a necessary evil to an excellent opportunity.

You to will find new insights or views on the economics that you were already sure you had under your belt.

So enjoy reading Adam Smith not as a necessity but for the fun of getting new views directly from the author.
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on 13 July 2012
Adam Smith's "An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations" (often called simply "The Wealth Of Nations") is one of two great works from the Scottish economist and philosopher, the other being the lesser known "The Theory of Moral Sentiments". "The Wealth Of Nations" was published on March 9th, of 1776, but there were additional editions in 1778, 1784, 1786, and 1789. I read the free Kindle version of "The Wealth Of Nations", and while I do not recommend that version I do recommend the overall work.

The issues with the Kindle version are that it is poorly formatted, and it is painful to attempt to read the numbers in the tables at the of Book I. You are much better off getting a hard copy so that you can more easily flip to the section of interest, and to read the information in a better format. As for the rest, the content is all there, once you get past the poor formatting.

The work contains five books within. The first is "Of the Causes of Improvement in the productive Powers of Labour". In this book he discusses the benefits of the division of labor, the origin and benefits of using money, a section on the "real" price of commodities (i.e. how much toil it takes to produce them), a discussion of the natural and market prices of commodities (the forces of supply and demand), the effect of controlling a commodity can have on the price, the wages of labor (again a case of supply and demand with the commodity of labor), the profits of stock, a discussion of the ill effects of groups who use their influence to manipulate the government (this would include banking conglomerations, trade unions, etc.), and closes with a section on rent.

The second book is "Of the Nature, Accumulation, and Employment of Stock" which deals with accumulating wealth which lasts a longer period of time. This book starts with how one divides their stock into what they need for personal use, and what they can dispose of in exchange for others available stock. He then moves into a discussion of money as a type of stock, and then how to use their excess money/stock to gain interest.

The third book is "Of the different Progress of Opulence in different Nations", where he talks about the balance between the inhabitants of towns and those of the country areas and goes into how agriculture is discouraged over time, while cities and towns prosper.

The fourth book is "Of Systems of political Economy" in which Smith discusses the commercial system, along with importation which contains a detailed look at the effects of restraints on importation/exportation. Smith also discusses commerce treaties, and the role of colonies. This book also has a brief section on the agricultural system, but here he is referring to a specific system where the produce of land is the sole source of the revenue of a nation

The fifth book is "Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth" in which Smith deals with taxation. This is an important area to read and understand, as it is the one which many ignore when using Smith to try to support other areas. There are hints here of the progressive tax, as well as a discussion of the expenses of the nation, an important acknowledgement that the poor spend the greater part of their income on the fundamentals, such as food, and so he suggests luxury taxes as not unreasonable. Smith then closes the final book with a discussion of the costs of war, both for the actual fighting, and in terms of the loss of trade.
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on 30 January 2010
Not only an influential book in its time, "The Wealth Of Nations" remains essential to understanding modern Economics.

Smith's ideas may not be expressed in an easy-to-read format (as another reviewer has commented) but the clarity of his thought is marvellous and the effort expended in making sense of this book will be well rewarded for anyone with an interest in the way that markets - and by implication society as a whole - work.
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on 8 June 2013
This is a good quality book, however the product description does not make it clear that this is an abridged edition of Adam Smith's work. If you want to read the whole thing, buy something else.
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