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The Passions and The Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph is a slim, unintimidating book of intellectual history, good for English majors who like their economic histories prosy and Foucauldian-inflected. Albert O. Hirschman recalls the theses of 17th and 18th-century thinkers who believed man’s base and wicked “passions” could be tamed by his economic “interests”—the old “doux-commerce”—and his book offers a convincing case for how capitalism first got traction on promises of political stability and social control. He also spends some time quoting the theses’ detractors—mainly Adam Smith—sparing you the drier swaths of Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments with a sampling of their tastier quotes. Still, Hirschman is kind to the reader’s intelligence, and mentions the “invisible hand” only once.