Addressing the nature and causes of the wealth of nations, Adam Smith made one of the most potent contributions to subsequent ideological history. In the West since the early-19th century he has been the patron saint of "homo economicus". More recently, successive British governments have invoked his policy recommendations of free trade and "laissez-faire" to aid their extension of privatization and market effectiveness into areas such as health and education. Smith, however, not only viewed merchants and manufacturers with deep suspicion, but also tempered his celebration of a self-regulating market with a darker vision of the dehumanizing potential of a profit-orientated society. He did not write an economics textbook, however, but rather a narrative about the struggle for individual liberty and general prosperity in history. This selected edition includes sections from all five books of the "Wealth of Nations". It also provides full notes and a commentary that places Smith's work within a rich interdisciplinary environment.