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First published in 1776, this book is generally regarded as the foundation of contemporary economic thought. Combining economics, political theory, history, philosophy, and practical programs, Smith assumes that human self-interest is the basic psychological drive behind economics and that a natural order in the universe makes all the individual, self-interested strivings add up to the social good.
The classic economic treatise that inspired Thomas Pikettys Capital in the Twenty-First Century
With this landmark treatise on political economy, Adam Smith paved the way for modern capitalism, arguing that a truly free market fired by competition yet guided as if by an invisible hand to ensure justice and equality was the engine of a fair and productive society. In Books IV-V, Smith offers his considered response to the French Physiocrats and assesses the nature of the mercantile system.
The Wealth of Nations (Books I-III) are also published in Penguin Classics.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Adam Smith (1723-90) was born in Glasgow and educated at Glasgow and Oxford. Two years after his return to Scotland, Smith moved to Edinburgh, where he delivered lectures on Rhetoric. In 1751 Smith was appointed Professor of Logic at Glasgow, but was translated to chair of Moral Philosophy in 1752. His The Theory of Moral Sentiments was published in 1759 and The Wealth of Nations in 1776, the same year as the Declaration of Indpendence.
Andrew Skinner teaches at the Adam Smith Institute and is an expert on the author's work.