Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance

Jane Gleeson-White. Norton, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-08896-0
Gleeson-White offers a lively and elegantly written account of the history of double-entry bookkeeping. Though the topic hardly sounds intriguing, the author makes ledgers and numbers come alive. As she writes: "Our urge to account—to measure and record our wealth—is one of the oldest human impulses." Gleeson-White, who holds degrees in economics and accounting, describes in vibrant and engaging prose how early writing systems were shaped by clay counting tokens, and how the development of the double-entry system, derived from Arabic mathematics, revolutionized commerce and capitalism in Renaissance Italy and contributed to the development of today's global economy. In a spellbinding historical narrative, the author traces the system from Luca Pacioli's pioneering accounting treatise, "Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportione et proportionalità," to the Industrial Revolution, when the profession of "chartered accountant" was established. Moving into modern times, Gleeson-White details how shortcomings in the system and "gaping holes in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act" and other regulations that contributed to recent corporate collapses, such as Enron and WorldCom.This dynamic examination of the impact and legacy of double-entry bookkeeping is sure to appeal to those in the accounting profession, business leaders, and history buffs, and will likely become required reading in business school curricula. Agent: Wenona Byrne, Allen & Unwin. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-74331-176-9
Paperback - 294 pages - 978-0-393-34659-6
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-393-08968-4
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-1-74331-143-1
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