Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

General Description (from Amazon.com)
The foundation for all modern economic thought and political economy, “The Wealth of Nations” is the magnum opus of Scottish economist Adam Smith, who introduces the world to the very idea of economics and capitalism in the modern sense of the words. Smith details his argument in the following five books: Book I. Of the Causes of Improvement in the productive Power of Labour, Book II. Of the Nature, Accumulation, and Employment of Stock Introduction, Book III. Of the Different Progress of Opulence in Different Nations, Book IV. Of Systems of Political Economy, and Book V. Of the Revenue of the Sovereign or Commonwealth; which taken together form a giant leap forward in the field of economics. A product of the “Age of Enlightenment”, “The Wealth of Nations” is a must read for all who wish to gain a better understanding of the principles upon which all modern capitalistic economies have been founded and the process of wealth creation that is engendered by those principles.

Why the President Should Read This Book
Because it was read and studied by virtually all the Founders? Because it forms the basis of much of modern-day economic thought? Need I say more? But of course, I will say more. Well no, I don’t think I will, I think those two reasons should be plenty.

Personal Notes
The thing about The Wealth of Nations is that it’s a very difficult book to read. Not difficult to understand, but a very, very boring, slogging, work to get through. And that’s coming from somebody who actually enjoys studying economics. But still, every President, Senator, and Congressman should have this book in their library and know what it contains, even if they haven’t read it in its entirety. But if you want to know what’s in it without necessarily reading the whole thing, I’d recommend PJ O’Rourke’s On the Wealth of Nations, which is a much more enjoyable read.

Update 5 May 2011 – I started reading the Wealth of Nations about two years ago and gave up. It seemed boring, hard to get through, etc. I recently started again, and I’m having an entirely different experience. I’m finding it simple to understand, interesting, and a pleasure. So if you try it and find it boring, just put it down, read something else, and come back to it later. You might find it to be a different book the second time you pick it up.