This book is a comprehensive examination of the patterns of wealth, including education, taxation and other internal and external causes. The author attempts to explain the cyclical rise and fall of nations by examining the economies of nations, both ancient and then contemporary. He theorizes that as a nature grows rich it loses the very virtues and practices that led to its fortune. Consequently, countries ruin themselves by becoming prosperous without fail for their riches corrupt them. Playfair thinks that there is no cure for the disease but a variety of treatments that can extend prosperity. What makes Playfair such an original thinker is his insight that certain problems cannot be solved, i. e. becoming rich changes a person's and nation's character. All that can be done is to temper prosperity so that it lasts longer than it normally would.