100 books like The Wealth of Nations

By Adam Smith,

Here are 100 books that The Wealth of Nations fans have personally recommended if you like The Wealth of Nations. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin

Ray Raphael Author Of Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

From my list on deepening your view of the American Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing my first of my ten books on the Founding Era, A People’s History of the American Revolution, I came across an amazing uprising not celebrated in the traditional saga of our nation’s birth: the people of Massachusetts, everywhere outside of Boston, actually cast off British authority in 1774, the year before Lexington and Concord. How could this critical episode have been so neglected? Who’s the gatekeeper here, anyway? That’s when I began to explore how events of those times morphed into stories, and how those stories mask what actually happened—the theme of Founding Myths.  

Ray's book list on deepening your view of the American Revolution

Ray Raphael Why did Ray love this book?

If, perchance, you have yet to encounter Private Joseph Plumb Martin’s classic memoir, stop right now and get hold of a copy. With wit, charm, and telling detail, this common soldier from the Continental Army will take you on a personal journey through the Revolutionary War. Lest we forget, “history” is composed of individual experiences, and JPMs are memorable. “Great men get great praise; little men, nothing,” he wrote. “It always was so and always will be.” No, not always. This “little man” earns praise not only for himself, but for all those men and boys who put their lives on the line in the Revolutionary War.

By Joseph Plumb Martin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a new afterword by William Chad Stanley

Here a private in the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War narrates his adventures in the army of a newborn country.


Book cover of The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution and the Fate of the Empire

Jack N. Rakove Author Of Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

From my list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became a historian of the American Revolution back in the early 1970s and have been working on that subject ever since. Most of my writings pivot on national politics, the origins of the Constitution, and James Madison. But explaining why the Revolution occurred and why it took the course it did remain subjects that still fascinate me.

Jack's book list on the Revolutionary War and why the British lost it

Jack N. Rakove Why did Jack love this book?

The vast majority of books on the Revolutionary War are written by Americans, and they predictably focus on the conflict from the Patriot side. But throughout the war, the strategic initiative rested with Britain, not the United States. Through a series of brilliant biographical chapters, O’Shaughnessy traces the history of the war and the evolution of British strategy, and its ultimate failure, from the imperial side.

By Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Men Who Lost America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O'Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory. In interlinked biographical chapters, the author follows the course of the war from the perspectives of King George…


Book cover of The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America

Tom Shachtman Author Of The Founding Fortunes: How the Wealthy Paid for and Profited from America's Revolution

From my list on lesser-known figures in the American Revolution and early years.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Tom Shachtman, author of many nonfiction books about American and world history, including three on overlooked aspects of the Revolutionary War.  I believe that America’s Revolution belongs to all of us, native-born and immigrant, old and young, and it does so today just as much as it did a hundred and two hundred years ago; but too many myths have grown up about it, obscuring some of its most interesting people and aspects. My aim is to recover those people and aspects, and in writing about them to broaden our understanding of our common heritage.

Tom's book list on lesser-known figures in the American Revolution and early years

Tom Shachtman Why did Tom love this book?

The story of the mostly urban radicals – the unknowns -- who began the Revolution, and how they and their democratic passions were gradually but inevitably “tamed” to create a Constitution and a governable country.

By Gary B. Nash,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Unknown American Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this audacious recasting of the American Revolution, distinguished historian Gary Nash offers a profound new way of thinking about the struggle to create this country, introducing readers to a coalition of patriots from all classes and races of American society. From millennialist preachers to enslaved Africans, disgruntled women to aggrieved Indians, the people so vividly portrayed in this book did not all agree or succeed, but during the exhilarating and messy years of this country's birth, they laid down ideas that have become part of our inheritance and ideals toward which we still strive today.


Book cover of Jefferson's Treasure: How Albert Gallatin Saved the New Nation from Debt

Tom Shachtman Author Of The Founding Fortunes: How the Wealthy Paid for and Profited from America's Revolution

From my list on lesser-known figures in the American Revolution and early years.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Tom Shachtman, author of many nonfiction books about American and world history, including three on overlooked aspects of the Revolutionary War.  I believe that America’s Revolution belongs to all of us, native-born and immigrant, old and young, and it does so today just as much as it did a hundred and two hundred years ago; but too many myths have grown up about it, obscuring some of its most interesting people and aspects. My aim is to recover those people and aspects, and in writing about them to broaden our understanding of our common heritage.

Tom's book list on lesser-known figures in the American Revolution and early years

Tom Shachtman Why did Tom love this book?

Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and their secretary of the treasury, Albert Gallatin, did as much as Alexander Hamilton to create the unique blend of capitalism and democracy that is the United States of America – a story that more Americans ought to know.

By Gregory May,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jefferson's Treasure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WALL STREET JOURNAL review: "One of Mr. May's strengths is his ability to convey a vivid sense of the times. When Britain attacked the U.S. naval frigate Chesapeake in 1807, Gallatin received a message from Jefferson bidding him to come in haste. 'If you arrive before half after three, come and take a family dinner with me,' Jefferson pleaded, a poignant reminder that, in Jefferson's time, official duties set with the sun... [May] credits Gallatin with ushering in an era of official frugality and mourns that we have "lost sight of the pragmatic, liberal republicanism he practiced"

George Washington had…


Book cover of Wolf Totem

Fan Wu Author Of Beautiful as Yesterday

From my list on China’s cultural revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

Born and raised in China, I grew up on a remote state-run farm where my parents, as condemned intellectuals during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, lived for 20 years. It wasn't until mid-80s they were allowed to return. I have heard many stories and read many books about this tumultuous period in China. I didn’t know much about my parents’ personal experiences until I was in my 30s. Today’s China is very different but I believe that history extends its roots deep into the present. As a writer, what interests me the most is the impact of history on individuals and society. My latest book is a historical wartime novel set in China and Europe.

Fan's book list on China’s cultural revolution

Fan Wu Why did Fan love this book?

Rong’s Wolf Totem is not a typical Cultural Revolution book, and its focus is on relationships between humans and the wildlife of the grasslands. The protagonist is an urban youth, who’s a Han (the majority ethnic group in China), sent to inner Mongolia for “reeducation.” While trying to raise a wolf cub captured from the wild, he encounters a cultural clash between the Han Chinese and the locals, learns about the wolf and other wildlife, and reflects on history, nature, and humanity. 

By Jiang Rong, Howard Goldblatt (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Wolf Totem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beijing intellectual Chen Zhen volunteers to live in a remote settlement on the border of Inner and Outer Mongolia, where he discovers life of apparent idyllic simplicity amongst the nomads and the wild wolves who roam the plains. But when members of the People's Republic swarm in from the cities to bring modernity and productivity to the grasslands, the peace of Chen's solitary existence is shattered, and the delicate balance between humans and wolves is disrupted. Only time will tell whether the grasslands' environment and culture will ever recover...

Wolf Totem has been a sensation ever since it shot to…


Book cover of Capitalism and Freedom

Jeffrey A. Miron Author Of Libertarianism, from A to Z

From my list on Libertarianism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeffrey Miron has taught a popular course on libertarian principles at Harvard for 17 years, explaining how to apply libertarianism to economic and social affairs. Miron also serves as the Vice President for Research at the libertarian Cato Institute. Miron has a consistent track record of defending libertarian policies, such as the legalization of all drugs, vastly expanded legal immigration (perhaps to the point of open borders), drastically reduced government expenditure, and substantial deregulation.

Jeffrey's book list on Libertarianism

Jeffrey A. Miron Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Capitalism and Freedom is the greatest exposition of the consequential case for libertarianism. In other words, Milton Friedman’s case for libertarian policies rests not on moral assumptions or “natural” rights but on showing that capitalism is important because it has positive consequences – it enables human prosperity and flourishment.

Perhaps as importantly, Capitalism and Freedom shows that economic freedom is a necessary condition not just for economic prosperity but for personal and political freedom. Thus, free markets are not only compatible with democracy (contra what many people claim), but a necessary condition for protecting democracy and personal freedoms.

This book’s outlook is probably the closest to the one articulated in my book. It is also the most recent one on the list, making it an easy read.

By Milton Friedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Capitalism and Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of TIME magazine's All-TIME 100 Best Nonfiction Books
One of Times Literary Supplement's Hundred Most Influential Books Since the War
One of National Review's 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Century
One of Intercollegiate Studies Institute's 50 Best Books of the 20th Century How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of an immensely influential economic philosophy--one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom.

First published…


Book cover of The Road to Serfdom

Andrew Koppelman Author Of Burning Down the House: How Libertarian Philosophy Was Corrupted by Delusion and Greed

From my list on libertarian philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in human freedom, and both intrigued and cautious about the path offered by the libertarians. In my book, I finally worked out for my own benefit what is alive and what is dead in their ideals – and the various flavors in which those ideals are available. They have important insights, but too much of what they are selling is snake oil. Until now there hasn’t been any critical introduction to libertarianism for the general reader. This book aims to supply that.

Andrew's book list on libertarian philosophy

Andrew Koppelman Why did Andrew love this book?

The classic exposition of the idea that central governmental economic planning will inevitably be wasteful and tyrannical. Hayek today is caricatured by both right and left, but he is not the minimal state absolutist that both sides often take him to be. Hayek thinks that the way to attack poverty is not redistribution – there isn’t yet enough wealth in existence to give everyone a decent life – but the opportunities created by free markets. Another impetus for my own work was reading this book and discovering that I agreed with him much more than I had expected to. 

By F. A. Hayek, Bruce Caldwell (editor),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Road to Serfdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, "The Road to Serfdom" has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944 - when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program - "The Road to Serfdom" was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would lead not to a utopia but…


Book cover of Economic Sophisms and "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen"

Jeffrey A. Miron Author Of Libertarianism, from A to Z

From my list on Libertarianism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeffrey Miron has taught a popular course on libertarian principles at Harvard for 17 years, explaining how to apply libertarianism to economic and social affairs. Miron also serves as the Vice President for Research at the libertarian Cato Institute. Miron has a consistent track record of defending libertarian policies, such as the legalization of all drugs, vastly expanded legal immigration (perhaps to the point of open borders), drastically reduced government expenditure, and substantial deregulation.

Jeffrey's book list on Libertarianism

Jeffrey A. Miron Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Bastiat was a 19th-century French economist, writer, and politician. Economic Sophisms is a collection of short and enjoyable essays illustrating the case for free trade and attacking some economic misconceptions. Many of the essays’ themes and arguments are relevant today, and Bastiat’s critiques of big government are often witty.

In one essay, Bastiat presents a “candlemakers petition” to the parliament for protection against the unfair competition of sunlight, which was flooding the market with a superior product at virtually zero price. Modern critiques of zero price “monopolists” (e.g., Facebook or Google) should take note!

In What is Seen and Not Seen Bastiat introduces the “parable of the broken window” to show that economic resources are fundamentally scarce: resources expended on one activity are not available for others. Centuries later, many policymakers are yet to grasp this insight.

By Frédéric Bastiat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Economic Sophisms and "What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume, the third in our Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat, includes two of Bastiat’s best-known works, the collected Economic Sophisms and the pamphlet What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen. We are publishing here for the first time in English the Third Series of Economic Sophisms, which Bastiat had planned but died before he could complete the project.

Both Economic Sophisms and What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen share similar stylistic features and were written with much the same purpose in mind, to disabuse people of misperceptions they might have had about the benefits of free…


Book cover of Second Treatise on Government

Jeffrey A. Miron Author Of Libertarianism, from A to Z

From my list on Libertarianism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jeffrey Miron has taught a popular course on libertarian principles at Harvard for 17 years, explaining how to apply libertarianism to economic and social affairs. Miron also serves as the Vice President for Research at the libertarian Cato Institute. Miron has a consistent track record of defending libertarian policies, such as the legalization of all drugs, vastly expanded legal immigration (perhaps to the point of open borders), drastically reduced government expenditure, and substantial deregulation.

Jeffrey's book list on Libertarianism

Jeffrey A. Miron Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Locke’s Second Treatise on Government is the first book to present a coherent liberal theory of the State. Many of its core ideas are now common-sense: that the legitimate end of government is to preserve and enlarge the freedom of its subjects; that sovereigns should be held accountable to the law; and that individuals have a natural right to life, liberty, and property even in the absence of government.

This is a short and readable book that reminds us how much the liberal tradition initiated by Locke is, at least rhetorically, embedded in much of contemporary discourse on democracy and politics.

This book is also of paramount importance to libertarians because it presents one of the first articulated arguments for private property as a means to create wealth.

By John Locke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Second Treatise on Government as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke has been called the “Father of Liberalism”. Following in the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is one of the first British empiricists, which emphasizes the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas. His work would greatly influence other prominent political and literary figures including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the founding fathers of the United States of America. Contained here in this volume is one of his most influential writings, the “Second Treatise of Government”. The “Second Treatise” is concerned with five specific themes in relation to government. Firstly Locke defines a state…


Book cover of The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire

Oyungerel Tsedevdamba Author Of The Green Eyed Lama

From my list on banned or forbidden stories to be told.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a Mongolian woman deeply interested and engaged in politics, human rights and history. Until I reached 25, my country was a communist state and I wasn't allowed to learn many things including foreign language other than Russian. Life, school, and books surrounding me had not only legal but also very strong ideological restrictions dictated by communism. As the most attractive melodies were ‘banned music’ and most beautiful love songs were ‘banned songs’, I grew up hungry to learn the true stories hidden behind all the bans. Later, I decided to write historic fiction on the important stories that were not taught to us in schools but necessary for Mongolians and the world to understand. 

Oyungerel's book list on banned or forbidden stories to be told

Oyungerel Tsedevdamba Why did Oyungerel love this book?

I couldn’t put it down when I read it, maybe because I am a woman. The most famous 13th century tale about Genghis Khan and his creation of Mongolia doesn’t mention women’s involvement in the creation of Mongolia. Jack Weatherford, a famous writer and historian, noticed a line in the Secret History of the Mongols which might have indicated a censorship in the story. He further explores the censored parts of the Secret History only to find fascinating and active involvement of women in Mongolian history. Anyone who is interested in history, truth, and women’s empowerment will find this book amazing. Jack writes so well and his books are always a fast read.  

By Jack Weatherford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret History of the Mongol Queens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A fascinating romp through the feminine side of the infamous Khan clan” (Booklist) by the author featured in Echoes of the Empire: Beyond Genghis Khan

“Enticing . . . hard to put down.”—Associated Press

The Mongol queens of the thirteenth century ruled the largest empire the world has ever known. The daughters of the Silk Route turned their father’s conquests into the first truly international empire, fostering trade, education, and religion throughout their territories and creating an economic system that stretched from the Pacific to the Mediterranean.

Yet sometime near the end of the century, censors cut a section about…


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