Podcast

Adam Smith, Mama's Boy

Adam Smith
Wikimedia Commons

On today's Planet Money, we talk with Nicholas Phillipson, the author of Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life.

Besides learning about the intellectual and political world Smith inhabited, we hear a bit about the man himself:

He's a strange man. I mean, he had a reputation for being rather awkward ... He wasn't a good conversationalist. You know, he would sit down and actually switch off ... then suddenly he would wake up and go into a great monologue. ... He's an uneasy person. ...

His mother was formidable. ... This was a woman you didn't mess with. She is a dragon. People learned that the way you got on with Smith was to chat his mother up. And if you couldn't chat his mother up, then your relations with Smith were not going to be as close as you would like. He is a mama's boy. ...

She guards his privacy ... He needs absolute peace and quiet ... and that's what his mother gives him.

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