Invisible hands, forks… and hooks?

In his book “The Wealth of Nations”, first published in 1776, Adam Smith famously likened the unseen influence of market forces, acting on participants who are all looking out for their own best interests, to an invisible hand. In “An Edible History of Humanity”, I liken food’s influence on history to an invisible fork that has, at several crucial points in history, prodded humanity and altered its destiny, even though people were generally unaware of its influence at the time. And I have just learned (rather belatedly, because I have something of a New Yorker backlog at the moment) of Peter Leeson’s new book “The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates” which, according to this New Yorker review, explains pirate customs and behaviour using economic analysis. (It’s based on an academic paper from 2007 on pirate economics.) It sounds great.

2 comments
  1. Adriana said:

    I am reading and enjoying the History of World in Six Glasses, published by Walker & Co., New York.
    I have a comment/observation to make: on page 149, King Louis XV of France is mentioned in relation to his taste for coffee, different from his father’s, who was mentionned a few pages before, Louis XIV. My comment is that Louis XIV was the great-grandfater of Louis XV, not his father. Otherwise, I totally enjoy this book.

    • tomstandage said:

      Thanks for your comment. I believe that mistake has been fixed in later printings of the book — but there are lots of earlier editions in which it appears. Thank you for pointing it out.

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