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Saving Adam Smith: A Tale of Wealth, Transformation, and Virtue Paperback – November 8, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Financial Press; 1 edition (November 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0130659045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0130659040
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"I thought Wight's book astonishingly good. The storytelling is as good as the business best seller, The Goal, and the economics is better. A few more books like this and economics will no longer be the obscure and dismal science it now seems to the public."--Deirdre McCloskey: Distinguished Professor, University of Illinois and Tinbergen Professor, Rotterdam University"SAVING ADAM SMITH uses a modern-day story to give a contemporary voice to the "Father of Capitalism," who for too long has been maligned, misquoted and misunderstood, in order to rationalize an economic system that he himself would never have promoted. I recommend this book to anyone who is studying, teaching or engaged in business, as it holds the key for a moral blueprint from which "economic integration" and trade can be implemented via a socially responsible approach to globalization. Anyone who talks about the "invisible hand" and doesn't understand the moral context in which it operates has probably never read this book, nor ever had the pleasure of a campfire conversation with Adam Smith!"Daniel J. Gertsacov, CEO, Forum on Business and Social Responsibility in the Americas (Forum EMPRESA)"We all live in Adam Smith's economic world, but as Jonathan Wight's wise and witty story show us, it's not exactly the world that Smith had in mind. In his lively tale, Wight brings Smith back to remind economics students and readers of all stripe, that we are not here to serve the economy, the economy is here to serve the needs of everyone in our society."Joanne B. Ciulla, is Professor at the University of Richmond and author of "The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work." "Wight's tale of adventure presents Smith's insights about self-interest in the wider context of his social philosophy. The book challenges students and economists to follow Smith in making room for justice and conscience in economic choices."David C. Smith President, Council for Ethics in Economics

From the Back Cover

A novel of markets and morals.

Adam Smith is back to set the record straight....

If Adam Smith returned to life, would he admire the global capitalist system that honors him or would he be horrified?

The Wealth of Nations is Smith's most popular work, but Smith himself revered his Theory of Moral Sentiments, an unread classic that searches for the wellsprings of human happiness and virtue. There is virtue in markets, yet Adam Smith would have been appalled by a world that holds wealth above human connections, a world of markets unsupported by an underlying moral fabric ... a world like ours.

And so it is in Jonathan Wight's Saving Adam Smith, a wondrous imagining in which Adam Smith stands before us today—generous, incisive, committed, and unflinchingly honest. As Smith was a revelation to his contemporaries, so he is to us: a man whose true message—obscured by centuries of misinformation and caricature—has never been more vital for sustaining business and society.

Adam Smith has come back to life ... and is he upset....

Adam Smith ... You've heard of him. The Father of Modern Economics. Died in 1790 ... but two centuries later, Adam Smith's spirit is tortured by what it sees on Earth. Tortured by the caricatures promoted in his name. Tortured that we've forgotten the morality at the heart of his message on wealth. Tortured enough to return to Earth ... in the body of an immigrant mechanic in Virginia.

Is this madness? At first, doctoral student Richard Burns thinks so. But not for long ....

In Saving Adam Smith, Jonathan Wight summons Adam Smith back to life, in a heart-pounding adventure ripped straight out of today's headlines. As the suspense builds, Burns rediscovers Adam Smith's most profound insight about markets: Selfishness is simply not enough. But will he—and Adam Smith—survive long enough to share it?

"Wight's book is astonishingly good. The storytelling is as good as the business best seller, The Goal, and the economics is better. A few more books like this and economics will no longer be the obscure and dismal science it now seems to the public."—Deirdre McCloskey,
Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, and English,
University of Illinois at Chicago


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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It was a fun book to read.
Michael Peranski
The story is funny and the characters are interesting and likeable; the novel makes the economic theories relatively painless.
Virginia P.
A must read for anyone who thinks they understand Adam Smith's approach to economics.
RandyF

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Joshua C. Hall on June 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Economic science, like most social sciences, builds upon the works of previous generations. In order to leave time for new research and discovery, the accumulated wisdom of past generations is taught to new generations through summaries in textbooks and lectures.
This logical progression of economic science makes sense if the ideas and importance of past discoveries can be easily (and properly) conveyed by individuals unfamiliar with the original texts. For example, few physicists need to read the work of Newton to understand his discoveries and their importance to an understanding of how the world works today.
To some extent, the same may not be true about economics. While some ideas, such as a consumption function might be easily conveyed without reading the original texts, the same may not be true of all economic insights. The distillation of a lifetime of work into a few paragraphs may not only fail to properly convey the important nature of an author?s work, but the distillation process might, over time, distort the message so much that it an economists work is frequently interpreted to mean something very different from what was originally intended.
University of Richmond economist Jonathan B. Wight clearly believes this to be the case with Adam Smith. Since few economists today read THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, let alone the book Smith thought was his best THE THEORY OF MORAL SENTIMENTS, their knowledge of his work is often limited to ?the invisible hand.?
The invisible hand is frequently taken to mean that selfishness is enough to make markets work. As Wight demonstrates in the book, Smith?s true insight was that ?selfishness is simply not enough? to make markets work.
Wight has undertaken an important task with this book. Not only is it good fiction (at least to a graduate student in economics), it is good economics and good pedagogy. SAVING ADAM SMITH will do more for economics than 90 percent of the articles in the AMERICAN ECONOMIC REVIEW.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By tom davey on January 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Saving Adam Smith is a remarkably moving, and at the same time instructive novel of ideas. The fictional story to which Smith's ideas are tethered carries the reader along, all the while helping him or her better understand economic and moral principles often buried beneath the dry,lifeless prose of less proficient academic writers. This is a lively and engaging novel that makes a deep and lasting impression. In the age of the Enron debacle, or the S&L scandal, a book like this is essential reading that makes clear the abiding relation between economics and the moral life. Saving Adam Smith is a novel that teaches the mind while nourishing the heart. It is ideal for academic and non academic reader alike.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Peranski on November 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read Saving Adam Smith because the author, Dr. Jonathan Wight, was coming to my school as a visiting author. I did not know anything about Adam Smith or economics before I read it, but I learned about markets, economy and self interest v. greed. I thought the book was easy to read and I was surprised to understand the economic theory in the book. I liked the adventerous plot that kept me intested. I liked the storyline about the drive across country and all the trouble they got into. It was a fun book to read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Virginia P. on February 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
All anyone ever hears about Adam Smith concerns his Wealth of Nations, everywhere from Economics class to movies like "A Beautiful Mind." This book is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Adam Smith as a person and about what he really thought. Instead of dry biography, this book brings Adam Smith and his theories about economics and society directly into today's world. The story is funny and the characters are interesting and likeable; the novel makes the economic theories relatively painless. I've heard that a true economist is someone who sees something work in real life and wonders if it would work in theory; I think it's important for people to learn that this icon of economics was more complicated than that, and because of that I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Romano on December 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
I own my own business, am extreemly busy, and guard my time (especially my free time). I won't go to movies or buy a book unless I know I'm going to enjoy it. So when a friend thrust Saving Adam Smith into my hands, I was a little skeptical. A business novel? What did I need with that? My life is a business novel, why read one for fun? On his recommendation I took it on vacation and picked it up one day ... and I loved it.
It's full of economic sense mixed with a little history and philosophy thrown in, tied up in an exciting story that kept the pages turning. I hate wasting time, which is why I don't usually read fiction. With this book I got enjoyment and learned something useful at the same time. It's definitely a book I'll keep, if I don't loan it to friends first. A great read and highly recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Forget all the excitement about John Adams -- Adam Smith is back. This modern day novel is a wonderful way to meet Adam Smith, the economist, philosopher, and believer in people finding happieness. Told with zip, this prose narrative brings back this much misunderstood man, setting a lively story that includes travel and danger as Smith tries to set the record straight after being transported into the body of a mechanic. Students of economy, history, and philosophy should enjoy this book. It could be a cult classic.
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