Double Entry

Double Entry

How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance

Book - 2012
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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.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., 2012.
Edition: 1st American ed.
ISBN: 9780393088960
0393088960
Characteristics: 294 p. ; 22 cm.

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rmelmeyer Dec 28, 2013

This book seems as though it was an excuse for the author to spend time in Italy doing research. It goes into excessive detail about the lives of most participants from the middle ages. The book does not explain double entry bookkeeping very clearly, in my opinion. There are no figures and the examples are not good. The best chapter relates how Keynes inspired New Deal officials to start keeping good data on the national economy, and how that expanded and spread. The final few chapters are a tiresome sermon on how wrong it is to measure national wealth using figures such as GDP. This book did not pan out as well as I had hoped after listening to the author being interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air program.

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