I have just finished reading Jane Gleeson-White’s book Double Entry, a book which delves into the invention of double entry bookkeeping by Venetian merchants and then proceeds to examine the 500-year history of double entry bookkeeping, which is the basis of modern accounting.
I originally came across this book as I had read of Luca Pacioli, the ‘father of accounting’ in another publication, and I was interested to learn more about this fascinating man. Pacioli was a very learned and exceptional mathematician, being a teacher in both commerical and speculative mathematics, and who had spent some 20 year studing the body of mathematics which was known in the Mediterranean of his day. He worked with Leonardo da Vinci and was mentored by Leon Battista Alerbti, the great Florentine Humanist.
Chapters 2-5 of the book deal with the history of Luca Pacioli’s influence and contribution to double entry accounting as we know it today, then the book moves to the industrial revolution the beginnings of the accounting profession, through the John Maynard Keynes, the ‘scandels’ of the profession and ends with a chapter on gross domestic product and how accounting could make or break the planet.
I am not a mathematician so ordinarily any book written on double entry accounting would not be found on my book shelf. I have throughout the course of my academic career had reason to skirt the perimeters of economics, so it is a possibility for that reason I may have acquired this book.
There is no doubt that this book is a useful and informative contribution to understanding the world of accounting and financial systems, so would be more greatly appreciated for its later chapter content by those in the financial profession than I could truly appreciate. Nevertheless, Gleeson-White writes well and the knowledge she was able to impart to me on Luca Pacioli was well worth the acquisition of the book.
So, if you have an interest in accounting or financial systems, do yourself a favour and read this book. You will find an intriguing tale which helps sharpen the mind on the issues behind some of the economic woes that are challenging countries all around the world.