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Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations
A Reader's Guide


  • Date Published: November 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107043374
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About the Authors
  • Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations is regarded by many as the most important text in the history of economics. Jerry Evensky's analysis of this landmark book walks the reader through the five 'Books' of The Wealth of Nations, analyzing Smith's terms and assumptions and how they are developed into statements about economic processes in Book I, his representation of the dynamics of economics systems in Book II, and his empirical case for his model in Book III. With that framework in place, Evensky examines Smith's critique of alternative models, mercantilism and physiocracy, in Book IV, and Smith's presentation of the policy implications of his analysis presented in Book V. This guide highlights the nexus of Smith's economics and his work on ethics and jurisprudence, and in doing so Evensky sets his examination of The Wealth of Nations into a larger, holistic analysis of Smith's moral philosophy.

    • Walks the reader through the principal concepts and arguments in each of The Wealth of Nations' five books
    • Offers a new contribution by demonstrating how Smith's economic analysis is integrated into his larger moral philosophical vision
    • Provides a guide to the non-specialist to Smith's vision of humankind's progress
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A straightforward and lively commentary that will introduce people to many central themes of Adam Smith's great book.' Sam Fleischacker, University of Illinois, Chicago

    'An indispensable guide to a foundational text in modern economics and the liberal tradition, Jerry Evensky's work offers an engaging, accessible, and systematic review of the Wealth of Nations, and indeed does so in a way that helps us to appreciate the connections between Adam Smith's economics and his moral philosophy.' Ryan Patrick Hanley, Marquette University

    'Amid the vast interpretive literature on Adam Smith's great book there has never been a book-length reader's guide until now. Chapter by chapter, Jerry Evensky, a noted Smith specialist, gently leads the reader through the entirety of Smith's book. By focusing on the institutional and evolutionary background of the work, Evensky carefully weaves together the ethical, legal, and economic facets of Smith's massive inquiry into the human condition without getting bogged down in sticky points of interpretation. While aimed at his fellow scholars, the book is appropriate for, and deserves, a wide readership among the general public. Smith's wisdom is as relevant today as it was when he was alive.' Jeffrey T. Young, St Lawrence University

    '… Evensky's work is important not only for the history of economic thought, but also for elucidating the foundation of the market economy.' Shinji Nohara, Journal of the History of Economic Thought

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    Customer reviews

    05th Nov 2015 by Gmurphydonovan

    Professor Evensky provides a very readable tour of Adam Smith’s thinking for the scholar and layman alike. His timing for North Americans couldn’t be better. Canada just elected another Trudeau. Another Clinton, and a Vermont socialist, are trending South of the Canadian border for 2016. Withal, Evensky’s new book allows a confused and conflicted generation to touch base again with much that made Canada and America a success to begin with. Health, wealth, and happiness are indeed team sports. Evensky also sets Adam Smith in the moral milieu that always informs good history. The great questions facing mankind are ever moral not simply scientific. And finally, Professor Evensky reminds us that those who defend the Smithsonian paradigm are progressives in the best sense of that word. Democratic capitalism in its original and finest incarnation is about outsiders, change, reform, and progress – in word and deed.

    Review was not posted due to profanity


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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107043374
    • length: 293 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Adam Smith's moral philosophical vision: the context of his economic analysis
    2. An inquiry: Book I
    3. An inquiry: Books II and III
    4. An inquiry: Book IV
    5. An inquiry: Book V
    Epilogue: Adam Smith and laissez-faire.

  • Author

    Jerry Evensky, Syracuse University, New York
    Jerry Evensky is Professor of Economics and Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence at Syracuse University. He has published widely on Adam Smith's work including in History of Political Economy, the Journal of the History of Economic Thought, the Scottish Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Economic Perspectives, the Southern Economic Journal, the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, and the Review of Social Economy. He co-edited, with Robin Malloy, Adam Smith and the Philosophy of Law and Economics (1994). His book, Adam Smith's Moral Philosophy: A Historical and Contemporary Perspective on Markets, Law, Ethics, and Culture, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2005.

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