• How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life

  • An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness
  • By: Russ Roberts
  • Narrated by: Don Hagen
  • Length: 5 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Money & Finance, Economics
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (850 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

A forgotten book by one of history's greatest thinkers reveals the surprising connections between happiness, virtue, fame, and fortune. Adam Smith may have become the patron saint of capitalism after he penned his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations. But few people know that when it came to the behavior of individuals - the way we perceive ourselves, the way we treat others, and the decisions we make in pursuit of happiness - the Scottish philosopher had just as much to say. He developed his ideas on human nature in an epic, sprawling work titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Most economists have never read it, and for most of his life, Russ Roberts was no exception. But when he finally picked up the book by the founder of his field, he realized he’d stumbled upon what might be the greatest self-help book that almost no one has read. In How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Roberts examines Smith’s forgotten masterpiece, and finds a treasure trove of timeless, practical wisdom. Smith’s insights into human nature are just as relevant today as they were 300 years ago. What does it take to be truly happy? Should we pursue fame and fortune or the respect of our friends and family? How can we make the world a better place? Smith’s unexpected answers, framed within the rich context of current events, literature, history, and pop culture, are at once profound, counterintuitive, and highly entertaining. By reinvigorating Smith’s neglected classic, Roberts provides us with an invaluable look at human behavior through the lens of one of history’s greatest minds.

©2014 Russ Roberts (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

"A great book. Makes you feel better about life, humanity, and yourself. Like having a conversation and a scotch with Adam Smith, or even better, Russ Roberts." (Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan)
"Russ Roberts has taken a brilliant but difficult classic - Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments - and written an engaging and inspiring meditation on virtue, friendship, and happiness. The result is a wonderful guide to living a good life." (Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind)

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What listeners say about How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Hard to distinguish Roberts from Smith in reading

The book is very good, but the otherwise solid performance has a near fatal flaw in that it's practically impossible to tell where Russ Roberts' text stops and the Adams passages begin (and vice versa.)

That said, the relevance of Smith's writings to the modern condition is incredible and this book provides a great condensation of Theory of Moral Sentiments.

26 people found this helpful

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Excellent

This book gives great insight into Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments and Smith's views on achieving happiness. Many associate Smith with economics and greed so this book shows a completely different side of the man.

Because I'm so used to hearing Russ Roberts' EconTalk podcasts I think this book's performance would have been improved had Roberts narrated it himself (not that Hagen did a bad job).

15 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • MM
  • 04-21-15

Don Hagen narrates too many books in this genre!

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I would have a different narrator. Don Hagen is good but he also did the "You Are Not So Smart" books and his voice is too dooms-dayish and monotonous. It's like he's trying to tell you that the circle you are looking at is a square, but you're an idiot for thinking it's a circle.

What could Russ Roberts have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I really cannot recall the stories at all.This is one of the only books on Audible that I listened to mostly and then deleted close to the finish bc I had no desire to continue. And I didn't even recall what I had heard in the first place.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Don Hagen?

Someone more enthusiastic. Maybe a female?

Did How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life inspire you to do anything?

No. Sorry.

18 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Poor narrator, dry content

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I like Russ Roberts and think he should have done this performance since he does a podcast and does audio recordings all the time.

Would you be willing to try another one of Don Hagen’s performances?

No

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A great summary of a great text

Roberts writes a great summary of the text hitting what he believes are the high notes. The lay economist in me notices many modern economists venturing into philosophy and it now seems obvious that they're pulling a Smith. lol

The narration is excellent and you feel like Hagen is sitting across from you in the same way Roberts pretends to sit down with Smith.

If I had to sum Robert's summary of Smith, it would be do your duty and don't be a d*ck about it. Pretty good philosophy to live life by.

1 person found this helpful

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Nice surprise

Simply a lovely book on many levels and much more engaging than I expected. i have a newfound respect for Adam Smith as a complete thinker and for how his two big books complement one another. Better yet, this book has made me a better person-- i have a long way to go, but i now aspire to be more lovely.

1 person found this helpful

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Not bad but not the greatest

I thought it would be more focused on economic insight and not moral sentiment but it was a good read for the price (got it cheap ~$3)

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Repetitive, shoehorns in libertarian ideas

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I was offended by the author's efforts to insert libertarian ways of thinking even though Adam Smith was apparently mute on such issues. More specifically, there was a lengthy section referencing Hayek about how it is misguided to use government to solve social problems, at the end of which the author admits that he has no idea whether Smith would have agreed. This felt like gratuitous politicizing of what otherwise struck me as apolitical subject matter.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The performance was clear, but read very slowly. It sounded much better to me when played at 1.25 times the normal speed.

Any additional comments?

There were some interesting points here, but many of them were fairly obvious and then repeated many times using slightly different wording.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Messages

Loved it & actually ordered a paperback copy to send to a friend!! After a while it sounded very redundant and chapters bled together.. I would have liked for the author to bring in more of the extent of Theory of Moral Sentiments and even Wealth of Nations considering both aspects each book show.. great read!

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a good read for the pandemic

Excellent throughout and especially good for audio and Kindle, as it is good company on a morning walk.