The first and greatest classic of modern economics

Title page of a book and photograph of two books with leather spines and marbled covers

The first and greatest classic of modern economics  

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1778 

by Adam Smith 
published by W Strahan and T Cadell in London 

The Wealth of Nations is a cornerstone of classical economics. The first major expression of the value of the free market, it encapsulates economic aspects of human rights. Its advocacy of capitalism continues to underpin western society. Its recommendation of the division and specialisation of labour was integral to the Industrial Revolution and remains so today. The first edition sold out in six months. It was not Smith’s last word, and in this second, rarer edition, Smith improves upon the first.