A remarkable book! Adam Smith supplies not only sharp insights into business dynamics covering a vast array of economic affairs, he also shares a dry wit in commenting on human nature. Here is an example (describing the efforts by Scottish businessmen to prod the legislature into loosening bank credit for their struggling enterprises):
"Their own distress, of which this prudent and necessary reserve of the banks was, no doubt, the immediate occasion, they called the distress of the country; and this distress of the country, they said, was altogether owing to the ignorance, pusillanimity, and bad conduct of the banks, which did not give a sufficiently liberal aid to the spirited undertakings of those who exerted themselves in order to beautify, improve, and enrich the country. It was the duty of the banks, they seemed to think, to lend for as long a time, and to as great an extent as they might wish to borrow."
Considering the book was published in 1776 it provides a unique opportunity to listen to an extremely knowledgeable and interesting commentator about life as it was at the time of the US Declaration of Independence. Many of his observations on key principles are still valid today.
I know it's irreverent, but I have to give the audio version of this book a 1. It's like listening to a 35hr lecture where a teacher reads straight from a book the whole time. It was more of a history book than anything. There are economic principles underlying what Smith says, but you won't grasp them just by listening to what he says in passing. It was really like listening to a textbook, and to really get something out of it you would not only have to read and reread, but maybe even highlight as well. I was sad to find that he only mentioned the "invisible hand" once in the whole book :( .
By and large, the book consisted of discussions about kings, meat, corn, wheat, ships, gold and silver...maybe you get the idea. Old, outdated material essentially. Of course there was nothing about the internet or outsourcing, which is what I have been spoiled with. He did discuss some timeless concepts though, such as demand and supply, taxation, militaries. To tell the truth it's hard to remember off the top of my head, because it was so lengthy and also because there were so many instances where I tuned out. It's very easy to let the audio play as you go about daily business and tune out. Maybe if you listen and devote full attention to it, the situation would be different. However, I find it hard to conceive that one could afford 35 hours of undivided attention to listen to a book. I think if you did it would be torturous, as its not exactly a page turner.
After all that, I'm still glad I got through it. I feel like a greater American for having done so. The country was founded on the principles outlined in this book. It's akin to reading the Bible, but for capitalistic economics. Also in this league is Darwin's Origin of Species, perhaps Communist Manifesto even. Listen to the preview and imagine 35 hours of it. Actual book might be just as tough, but audio was tough indeed. Oh yeah, quality stinks!