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Adam Smith

Adam Smith

Father of Economics

A dazzlingly original account of the life and thought of Adam Smith, the greatest economist of all time

Adam Smith (1723-1790) is now widely regarded as the greatest economist of all time. But what he really thought, and the implications of his ideas, remain fiercely contested. Was he an eloquent advocate of capitalism and individual freedom? A prime mover of “market fundamentalism”? An apologist for human selfishness? Or something else entirely?

In Adam Smith, political philosopher Jesse Norman dispels the myths and caricatures, and provides a far more complex portrait of the man. Offering a highly engaging account of Smith’s life and times, Norman explores his work as a whole and traces his influence over two centuries to the present day. Finally, he shows how a proper understanding of Smith can help us address the problems of modern capitalism. The Smith who emerges from this book is not only the greatest of all economists but a pioneering theorist of moral philosophy, culture, and society.

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Genre: Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Philosophers

On Sale: September 11th 2018

Price: $32 / $42 (CDN)

Page Count: 432

ISBN-13: 9780465061976

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reader reviews


"In this splendid book, Jesse Norman not only presents an excellent introduction to the life and ideas of Adam Smith, but also explains why - and how - Smith's insights can help us solve some of the most difficult social and economic problems of the contemporary world. Smith loved lucidity and relevance, and I think he would have been very happy with Norman's book."—Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate in Economics
"Jesse Norman provides two outstanding biographies for the price of one: a beautiful and original account of Adam Smith's life, well grounded in the epochal events of the eighteenth century enlightenment; and a penetrating and fresh account of the subsequent life of Smith's main idea, the central role of exchange in shaping human society."—Matt Ridley, author of The Evolution of Everything
"Jesse Norman has brought his keen eye and unique experience to a notoriously difficult subject, and the result is an exceptionally insightful new guide to Adam Smith. As Norman brilliantly shows, both Smith's economics and our own must be understood as an extension of moral philosophy."—Yuval Levin, author of The Fractured Republic
"Adam Smith is one of the world's greatest and least understood thinkers, and we may need him now, more than ever. Norman's beautifully written book offers an energetic and clear-headed overview, with a host of fresh and valuable insights. Highly recommended!"—Cass Sunstein, Harvard University
"Adam Smith is often associated with the powerful idea of the 'invisible hand' of the market, which became the bedrock of modern economics. But this brilliant idea doesn't come close to doing justice to his thinking. He anticipated how the unchecked power of employers can lead to monopoly, inefficiency and inequality. He understood how political systems that restrain rulers and the privileged are crucial for a healthy society and vibrant economy. He fully recognized, in contrast to how he is sometimes remembered in popular discussions, the complexities of ethical behavior and responsibilities. This wonderfully readable book by Jesse Norman brings Smith's sophisticated, eye-opening philosophy to modern readers."—Daron Acemoglu, co-author of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty