Old books

An authoritative, but concise introduction to the life and work of Adam Smith which covers both the Wealth of Nations and his other great works

“Butler has written an admirable and authoritative introduction to Adam Smith, the man and his thinking. This is the best short introduction to him in print.” Professor Gavin Kennedy

Despite his fame, there is still widespread ignorance about the breadth of Adam Smith’s contributions to economics, politics and philosophy. In Adam Smith – A Primer , Eamonn Butler provides an authoritative introduction to the life and work of this ‘founder of economics’.

The author examines not only The Wealth of Nations , with its insights on trade and the division of labour, but also less well known works, such as The Theory of Moral Sentiments , the lectures, and the writings on the history of science. Butler therefore provides a comprehensive, but concise, overview of Adam Smith’s intellectual achievements.

Whilst earlier writers may have studied economic matters, it is clear that the scope of Smith’s enquiries was remarkable. In relating economic progress to human nature and institutional evolution he provided a completely new understanding of how human society works and was very much a precursor of writers such as Hayek and Popper. Indeed, with poor governance, protectionism and social engineering still commonplace, Smith’s arguments are still highly relevant to policymakers today.

Adam Smith – A Primer includes a foreword by Sir Alan Peacock, an introduction by Gavin Kennedy and a commentary by Craig Smith.

The audio file has a recording of a brief talk by and interview with the author.

2007, Occasional Paper 141, ISBN 978 0 255 36608 3, 125pp, PB

See also:

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith

How Markets Work by Israel M. Kirzner

Fullscreen Mode


Download the summary for free.


Download the Traditional Chinese version for free.


Download the Arabic version for free.