Friday, August 12, 2011

Incredibly Condensed Wealth Of Nations

Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute in London has produced "The Condensed Wealth of Nations" (inclusive of "The Incredibly Condensed Theory of Moral Sentiments"), which I commend to all readers of Lost Legacy. Its 80 pages are freely available for download as a PDF (HERE).

Eamonn's associated explanatory outline is worth reading below:

"The world is full of people who wish they had read The Wealth of Nations, though it is a sprawling, elephantine book that few people find themselves able to stick with beyond the first chapters, which fewer still actually finish, and which even fewer, probably, understand.

What I have tried to do in The Condensed Wealth of Nations (full PDF) is to boil down the 900-odd pages of Adam Smith's original into just 80 pages. I have not tried to use Adam Smith's own words, and simply abridge them, firstly because Smith's language is very eighteenth-century and flowery, and secondly because he uses terms that have changed their meaning today, or which do not match up with our modern language of economics. Rather, I have put his thoughts into my own words. I have tried to capture some of the flavour of the original, however, using some of the contemporary examples he uses, for example, and just the occasional word or phrase that reminds us of the man and his time. Unlike an abridgement, that has allowed me to encapsulate Smith's principal thoughts in straightforward language and in a short space.

The work is intended to read as if a modern Smith is giving a précis of his own arguments. And I have tried to follow the outline of the book and the outline of those arguments closely, so that you get a complete picture of what Smith actually said in The Wealth of Nations. But from time to time some explanation or commentary is needed, and these I have put clearly in a different typeface. I have also included some of the well known quotations from the book, to further place the piece in its eighteenth century context and to give us a taste of Smith's own words.

I hope The Condensed Wealth of Nations will allow modern readers to trace Smith's actual arguments, and get a feeling of the shape of his original and what he says – and indeed to understand his point of view – and to do so objectively, without my own views and interpretations clouding the original reality

[Disclosure: I am a Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute.]


Blogger michael webster said...

If you are going to recommend it, then I will read it.

I have great trouble reading the Wealth of Nations

3:23 am  

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