Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Financeby Jane Gleeson-White
Filled with colorful characters and history, Double Entry takes us from the ancient origins of accounting in Mesopotamia to the frontiers of modern finance. At the heart of the story is double-entry bookkeeping: the first system that allowed merchants to actually measure the worth of their businesses. Luca Pacioli—monk, mathematician, alchemist,/b>
Filled with colorful characters and history, Double Entry takes us from the ancient origins of accounting in Mesopotamia to the frontiers of modern finance. At the heart of the story is double-entry bookkeeping: the first system that allowed merchants to actually measure the worth of their businesses. Luca Pacioli—monk, mathematician, alchemist, and friend of Leonardo da Vinci—incorporated Arabic mathematics to formulate a system that could work across all trades and nations. As Jane Gleeson-White reveals, double-entry accounting was nothing short of revolutionary: it fueled the Renaissance, enabled capitalism to flourish, and created the global economy. John Maynard Keynes would use it to calculate GDP, the measure of a nation’s wealth. Yet double-entry accounting has had its failures. With the costs of sudden corporate collapses such as Enron and Lehman Brothers, and its disregard of environmental and human costs, the time may have come to re-create it for the future.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- Product dimensions:
- 8.30(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
Jane Gleeson-White holds degrees in economics and accounting and is studying for her PhD in creative writing and literature. She has worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and currently lives in Sydney, Australia.
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The first two thirds of the book are fascinating. They describe the introduction of double entry accounting to Europe and its enormous impact on economic, scientific, artistic, and social thought. The author brings Renaissance merchantile enterprises to life. It was easy to imagine the daily activities and frustrations of a Venetian trader managing his wares and records. The book is lively and engaging and does not dwell on accounting trivia. It is a useful and pleasant history, not a dry litany of technical developments. Yet it does clearly describe what double entry is and how it differs from other recording systems. The last third of the book shifts into a liberally slanted critique of double entry for failing to support the entire politically correct agenda. Double entry is seen as inadequtely accounting for the standard package of environmental and social ills that so worries the liberals today. The final third of the book can simply be skipped. Just as the author notes that 15th century bookkeepers lauded God at the top of their ledgers, so must today's intellectuals laud political correctness in their histories.
As a CPA of 30 years, I found this book very enlightening and informative. The history lessons and information are phenomenal. I appreciate the authors deep research and the way it was tied together to make a very interesting story. The ties to Christian history, Roman Catholic /Arabic tensions, Leonardo DaVinci were all new to me and extremely interesting. I highly recommend this to any CPA or anyone who loves history. The importance of accounting and the reasons we should be proud of our profession are encapsulated in this very interesting read. JimH, Houston, TX