Who needs a biography of Adam Smith? You do, if you want a remarkably agreeable treatment of Eighteenth Century economic history. The author states that ""Adam Smith's life is nothing so important as the great book he wrote"" and the stress is proportionate. Adhering to facts and alluding to gaps, Mr. Pike follows discreetly the serious young student at Glasgow and Oxford, the lecturer at Glasgow whose brilliance sometimes obscured a dubious premise, the traveller who carried on discourse with the philosophes in Paris. Upon his return to Scotland, Smith devoted himself to writing The Wealth of Nations and the author devotes himself to commentary and criticism of that massive work, making adroit use of quotes. The central thesis is simple enough: ""The real wealth of a country is what its workers produce in a year."" The proportion of goods to people can be increased by freedom of enterprise, minimal taxation, and free trade. Illuminating the theory are interesting side lights--the division of labor is applied to pin making--and interlarded are ""pithy little sentences that reveal Smith's personal preferences and prejudices."" The author pursues the influence of Smith's ideas in his own time and up to ""the different world of today,"" where some have been repudiated (laissez faire), some reaffirmed (free trade). At the end of a brief, informed bibliographic essay, he advises, ""If you are in any doubt which of the many books to choose for your own reading, the librarian of your public library will be pleased to help you."" Librarians will be pleased, first, to help young people find this one.