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  • How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life

  • An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness
  • Written by: Russ Roberts
  • Narrated by: Don Hagen
  • Length: 5 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 2014-10-09
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC

Regular price: CDN$ 25.67

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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

What the critics say

"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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  • Amazing Customer
  • San Francisco, CA United States
  • 2015-03-31

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.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2014-10-13


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 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • MM
  • 2015-04-21

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 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 2014-12-11

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?


11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Matt
  • 2015-06-08

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • T-Bird Randy
  • Dallas, Texas
  • 2018-02-07

Pretty good & Worthwhile Endeavor to Read

It is nice to have someone give us the expanded “Cliff Notes” on this philosophy book by Adam Smith. There are some good thoughts on good human behavior for a better society. I will probably listen to it again in the future to absorb it a little more. Good narration.

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  • William Ehrich
  • 2017-12-13

Smith has a heart!

This is not the heartless Adam Smith you think you know! This was a fantastic read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-08-14

Worth the Time

I enjoyed this book. It is more dry than I prefer. However, I learned a great deal. I am hoping this book will make reading Adam Smiths books more fruitful.

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  • BKH
  • 2017-07-31

200 years later just as relevant!

What a great listen. I meant to get the Wealth of Nation's, but so glad I got this book. This is an overview done in modern times explaining Adam Smith's book moral sentiment explains direct relationships vs wealth of nations explaining indirect relationship. Give it a listen you will be glad you did.

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  • Doost
  • Milpitas, CA United States
  • 2017-06-03

Good reminder of common sense

a good reminder of common sense in business and living with humans. Good principles for steady learning and earning. not so good or quick results or scam artisrs.