The Life of Adam Smith / Edition 2

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This new edition of The Life of Adam Smith remains the only book to give a full account of Smith's life whilst also placing his work into the context of his life and times. Updated to include new scholarship which has recently come to light, this full-scale biography of Adam Smith examines the personality, career, and social and intellectual circumstances of the Scottish moral philosopher regarded as the founder of scientific economics, whose legacy of thought --most notably about the free market and the role of the state--concerns us all. Ian Simpson Ross draws on correspondence, archival documents, the reports of contemporaries, and the record of Smith's publications to fashion a lively account of Adam Smith as a man of letters, moralist, historian, and critic, as well as an economist. Supported with full scholarly apparatus for students and academics, the book also offers 20 halftone illustrations representing Smith and the world in which he lived.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Mr Ross's achievements in this biography is to have revealed the intellectual sources for his work while reminding us of the practicality, modesty, generosity and essential kindness of this great man."--The Economist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. Dec.
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
David Rouse
Adam Smith is considered the founder of economics. Though his theories were formed more than 200 years ago, they shape much of today's economic and political debate--especially current arguments regarding free trade. Within the last 100 years, the many books about Smith have been devoted to his ideas and his works rather than to the individual. Little popularly available biographical information exists. "Adam Smith" (1982), by R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner, does include several biographical chapters that provide a useful introduction to Smith's life. Now Ross, who coedited "The Correspondence of Adam Smith" (1987), provides a full-scale biography based largely on Smith's letters. As Ross notes, this biography satisfies natural curiosity about a writer "of such wide influence" and it helps those who would argue or oppose Smith's theories today put his ideas into historical and personal contexts. Laden--and leaden--with notes, Ross' book is not armchair reading. It is, however, an impressive scholarly achievement and belongs in any serious economics collection.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199550036
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/19/2010
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Simpson Ross is the biographer of Lord Kames, Smith's patron, and of the Scottish poet William Dunbar, and has edited, with E C Mossner, Smith's correspondence for the Glasgow edition of his works. He is Professor Emeritus of the University of British Columbia.

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Table of Contents

1. Kirkcaldy
2. Boyhood
3. Glasgow
4. The Never to be Forgotten Hutcheson
5. Oxford
6. A Respectable Auditory
7. Lectures on the History of Philosophy and Law
8. Called to Glasgow University
9. Teacher
10. Publishing Scholar and Administrator
11. The Making of the Theory of Moral Sentiments
12. Criticism of the Theory of Moral Sentiments
13. Travelling Tutor
14. Transition
15. Inquirer into the Wealth of Nations
16. The American Crisis and the Wealth of Nations
17. Euge! Belle! Dear Mr Smith
18. Dialogue with a Dying Man
19. Settlement in Edinburgh
20. Economic Theorist as Commissioner of Customs
21. Literary Pursuits
22. Times of Hardship and Distress
23. Legacy for Legislators
24. The Precariousness of this Life
25. The Great Change

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