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The Essential Adam Smith 0th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0393955309
ISBN-10: 0393955303
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert L. Heilbroner was Norman Thomas Professor of Economics at the New School for Social Research and author of The Worldly Philosophers and many other books.

From Publishers Weekly

Founding father of economic conservatism, Smith nevertheless sympathized with the working class and scorned landlords and other capitalists whom he deemed incapable of heeding public regulations. Today his books are frequently quoted yet seldom read. To remedy this situation, Heilbroner (The Worldly Philosophers has done an admirable job of abridging The Wealth of Nations and Smith's other major writings. Current debate has centered on Smith's theory of the "Invisible Hand," the self-regulating mechanism of a free-market economy, which has proved increasingly irrelevant in the face of structural unemployment and large-scale industry. But Heilbroner points out that the Invisible Hand, far more than a ghostly economic planner, was meant to provide the underpinnings for a workable system of social and moral order. Heilbroner emphasizes that Smith was far less optimistic than many people assume; though he considered capitalism the basis for personal freedom, he expected that both the propertied class and the workers would push for their narrow self-interests. The skillfully edited selections cut through Smith's cant and rhetoric.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (March 17, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393955303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393955309
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After reading Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers, I decided to read Smith's Wealth of Nations, but found myself daunted by the length and language of the book. Then I discovered Heilbroner's Essential Adam Smith and was hooked. The book offers the essential parts of Wealth of Nations, as well as a good sampling of some of his other works. As a result, I have not only read the entire Wealth several times, but have also read everything by and about Smith that I can find. Heilbroner's book is a good way to get to the heart of Smith's thinking, but, like me, you will probably find yourself wanting to learn more about the man, his ideas, and his life. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
To understand capitalism, read the Wealth of Nations. But, to really understand it, as well as the other ideas of Adam Smith, read his essential works. This book allows the reader to fully grasp the concepts of capitalism and get a clear picture of how and why it works. Thankfully, Heilbronner did not dilute the works of Smith, he just condensed them for the modern day reader. With this book you can cut through the jargon and see the real points that Smith was trying to get across.
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Format: Paperback
Content Summary: Adam Smith wrote two major works in his life - "The Theory of Moral Sentiments", which is lesser known, and his master work "The Wealth of Nations." Smith is remembered as one of the founding fathers of classical economic theory, known to us today as free market capitalism. In this concise summary, Heilbroner successfully gives us the essence of Smith's moral and economic theory Smith accomplished in both books.

Analytical Review: Heilbroner says that many people quote Adam Smith for their ideas, without actually having read Smith. This short work should help correct that, and I would recommend it (especially for the second half on The Wealth of Nations) as a concise introduction to Smith's thought. Both books would be over three times the length of this volume, so Heilbroner has slimmed the work down considerably, without sacrificing too much of its important meaning. Reading Smith, one is surprised how much his labor theory of value initially correspond to that of Marx, but Smith is much more comfortable with the use of money, and shifts away from the labor theory to market and exchange as the center of value. Like Marx's Capital, there may be parts to agree with, parts to dissent from here. Smith clearly would not give "carte blanche" to the capitalist, as many later thinkers would maintain. In fact Smith quite succinctly says that we should very skeptical of any legislation that is heavily sponsored by the commercial sector, as their interests are often contrary to the public interest. While Smith champions the free market, he has also some consideration for the poor. What he lacks, however, is the crystal clear solidarity with the working poor that is demonstrated in Marx's Capital.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book - I use this in several courses I teach and it is a great intro to Smith's thought, and a good gift for students who really find his work interesting. One of a few really nice basic introductions to important economists that is palatable to today's college student in the history of economic thought area.
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Format: Paperback
Adam Smith obviously is not the easiest read but this book does a great job of pointing out the important chapters and sections of Smith's two books. In fact, this book introduced me to "Theory of Moral Sentiments" which seems like a very interesting book too. I have enjoyed Robert Heilbroner's other books and this is right up with them. You can see that he is very passionate about Adam Smith's work and we all benefit from Heilbroner's guidance.
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