Though his name looms large as the founder of modern economic theory, Adam Smith himself is in many ways a mysterious and unknowable figure. Faced with the challenge of writing a biography of a man who left only a little correspondence and just two books, Nicholas Phillipson provides a broader portrait of Adam Smith's intellectual world. In doing so, he sites Smith firmly within the context of the Scottish Enlightenment, showing how he took the explorations of his teachers and colleagues (most notably his close friend David Hume) and used them to produce two of the seminal books of Western thought. By adopting this approach, Phillipson challenges the image of Smith as an absent-minded academic and turns him instead into a dynamic teacher who was in contact with many of the leading intellectual and political lights of his day. With his persuasive reinterpretation and and readable style, Phillipson has produced what is likely to be the best account of Smith's life and times for decades to come, and an essential read for anyone interested in learning about the origins and development of the ideas we still discuss today.