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The Life of Adam Smith Hardcover – November 19, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0199550036 ISBN-10: 0199550034 Edition: 2nd

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scottish economist Adam Smith, who laid the foundation of classical economics with his model of a competitive, self-regulating market, was described by contemporaries as having a harsh voice, huge teeth and a conversational style tantamount to lecturing. Smith (1723-1790) studied at Oxford, met his idol, Voltaire, near Geneva and mingled in Paris with French Physiocrats?laissez-faire economists whose belief in absolute freedom of trade Smith rejected, according to Ross, emeritus professor of English at the University of British Columbia. Challenging Hobbes's and Rousseau's theories of intrinsic human selfishness, Smith, as professor of law and politics at Glasgow University, devised a philosophy that argued that our moral and aesthetic judgments are grounded in feelings. In London, Smith, a policy adviser, urged the British government to jettison its colonial system of restraints, and the publication of his classic Wealth of Nations in 1776 was timed, suggests Ross, to convince Parliament to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict with the rebellious American colonies. Ross's rounded intellectual biography gives us all sides of the man. Illustrated.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Ross (emeritus, English, Univ. of British Columbia) has written a full-scale biography of Adam Smith (1723-90), the first in a century. He covers not only Smith's masterpiece, The Wealth of Nations, which defined the role of the free market in modern economic theory, but also his careers as a man of letters, a university professor, a government policy adviser, and a customs official. Ross discusses Smith's friendship with David Hume and other leaders of Scotland's 18th-century Enlightenment and Smith's other major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, dealing with ethical and philosophical issues. However, Ross's analysis of The Wealth of Nations is not well focused; overall, his writing is dense and turgid. Recommended only for academic libraries with large collections of economic literature.
Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (November 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199550034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199550036
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.4 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mark Howells on January 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Easy to read in spite of the larger-than-life reputation of Adam Smith. Presents Adam Smith the man as a bit of an absent minder professor who talked to himself.
However, the book shines in connecting Smith's life experiences to their effect on his thinking and writing. Extensive use is made of Smith's correspondence to flesh out ideas presented in his published works. The author is clearly more comfortable with the pedigree of thought behind "The Theory of Moral Sentiment" rather than "The Wealth of Nations", but Smith's ecomonics are still given thorough treatment. The disconnect between Smith's free trade theories and his work as a Commissioner of Customs is explored to the full.
A quick read and a delightful look into the Scottish Enlightenment.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 30, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is an extraordinarily interesting biography, especially for its insight into the very different world of 18th century Scotland. Smith's student start at Glasgow University with six professors, at which and education could be obtained for 10 pounds a year. His first book -- A Theory of Moral Sentiments -- in which he developed his concepts of morality, and which he kept revising along with A Wealth of Nations until his death. His first protest against tariffs -- an import duty on oats into the city of Glasgow, which would be unfair to his students who brought oats and peas from home and lived on 1 or 2 pounds a year for food.
Writing is a bit turgid, eighteenth centuryish.
Still, I keep thinking about the bits and pieces of the life of this most interesting man.
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By Jet Lagged on February 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Scholarly work on the life of Adam Smith. This, the now updated edition, is the definitive book on the man who can be said to be the father of economics.

Btw, it often seems to me that some people are unaware that Smith was an advocate of FAIR competition. Though he used different words to mine, he pointed out the danger of monopolies and cartels - where some scheming businessmen were prepared to take advantage of consumers, and fairness be damned. Smith strongly disapproved of such behaviour. He also disapproved of the slave trade which was still in existence in his day.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful By VA Book Lover on March 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Those who are not looking for an academic biography should check out Adam Smith: The Man and His Works by E. G. West. It's concise, elegantly written, and keenly insightful. Only specialists and academics need bother with Ross's tome.
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