A New York Times best seller published to rave reviews and extensive media coverage, P. J. O’Rourke’s On The Wealth of Nations is an original and hilarious exploration of Adam Smith’s seminal book. Almost instantly recognized upon publication in 1776 as the fundamental work of economics, The Wealth of Nations was as important to the development of economics as Darwin’s On the Origin of Species would be for natural history eighty years later. The Wealth of Nations was also recognized as being really long; the original edition totaled over nine hundred pages in two volumes. And as P. J. O’Rourke points out, to understand The Wealth of Nations you also need to read Smith’s first doorstopper, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. But now you don’t have to read either one.
That’s because P.J. has waded through all of Smith’s dense work, including Wealth’s sixty-seven-page “digression concerning the variations in the value of silver during the course of the four last centuries,” which, says O’Rourke, “to those uninterested in the historiography of currency supply, is like reading Modern Maturity in Urdu.” In this hilarious and insightful examination of Smith and his groundbreaking work, which even intellectuals should have no trouble comprehending, P.J. puts his trademark wit to good use and shows us why Smith is still relevant, why what seems obvious now was once revolutionary, and why the pursuit of self-interest is so important.