Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thoughts on "The Wealth of Nations"

I was looking through drafts on my blog and came across this. It was last saved 2008-04-13. making it a little over 1.75 years old. I am going to present it mostly verbatim and follow it with an update. By mostly verbatim, I mean I will attempt to proof read it.

Draft begins:

I was in a bookstore the other day when I noticed a book entitled On The Wealth of Nations (Books That Changed the World) by P.J. O'Rourke. I've previously read another title by him called Peace Kills, so the author as well as the subject matter intrigued me.

The book is a 200 page commentary and summary of Adam Smith's classic work. I've personally tried to read Smith's 900 page manuscript on two occasions and got through less than 25% of it. For anyone else who has even begun to read the book, one knows that it is 900 pages of Smith belaboring his ideas about economics.

I'm debating adding PJ's commentary to my to read list. However, I felt the need to give the primary source another shot. I decided that maybe an audio book might be a better format for digesting he text.

I've never listened to audio books before, and I had no idea if their was a place to download audio books of public domain works. After consulting Google, I found a site called where you can upload and download audio books.

The recording of The Wealth of Nations is still a work in progress at librivox. The first ten chapters are complete. Their works in progress are apparently available through their phpBB forum. I find that a little weird. However, the phpBB installation is customized so the first post of a "book in progress thread" has an iframe with a list of book chapters and their statuses. So if you just want to download the completed chapters, no need to read through an entire forum thread to make sure you have links to the right versions of each chapter.

After downloading them from the forum posting, I've listened to the first ten chapters once, and I plan on doing so a few more times, as well as listening to the rest as they are completed. I might have to listen when I have time to make notes so I can further research things he comments on.

Unpublished Draft Ends

So first an update on the audiobook. Books 1-3 of the work are complete, as is part of book 4. I have listened to some of the audiobook, but not all of it. I did read
P.J. O'Rourke's self described cliff notes of the book. It was a very educational commentary. At the very least if verified that one other person thought that Smith's writing style is long winded and a bit dull.

Personally, I recommend that people try all three works, the original, the audiobook, and Mr. O'Rourke's commentary. The book is a dry read. Listening to the audiobook while commuting is beneficial. And finally, the commentary contains information about Adam Smith's life as well as the work itself. It is quite well researched. Finally, the commentary is short and interesting so you will make it to the end.

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