The Essential Adam Smith

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The Essential Adam Smith is a new book that present the ideas of Adam Smith, widely hailed as the founding father of economics, in plain language, using contemporary examples for a new generation. Smith (1723 – 1790) remains one of the most important and influential scholarly writers of the last millennium. His observations—made more than 200 years ago—continue to resonate loudly today, as modern investigations into both human morality and economic history suggest he was astonishingly accurate in his writings.

Born in Scotland in 1723, Smith's first book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, explored how individuals come to decide what’s right and wrong.

His second book, the renowned The Wealth of Nations, explored why some countries prosper while others languish in poverty. Here, Smith observed what became known as the invisible hand—that individuals pursuing their own interests, namely selling goods and services to make a living, benefit society by providing things people want and need. Crucially, Smith theorized that economic prosperity is rooted in the division of labour—or specialization—and freer trade.

Written by James Otteson, professor of economics at Wake Forest University, The Essential Adam Smith also includes a new website www.essentialadamsmith.org and a new video series exploring Smith’s insights into morality and economics.


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