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Cover for Double Entry

Double Entry

How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance

Jane Gleeson-White


List Price: 16.95*
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“Lively history. . . . Show[s] double entry’s role in the creation of the accounting profession, and even of capitalism itself.”—The New Yorker

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.

Praise For Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance

Entertaining and informative.
— The Economist

Lucidly presented. . . . An accessible introduction to this key development in the history of capitalism.
— Edward Chancellor - Wall Street Journal

Stimulating. . . . Fascinating.
— Drew DeSilver - Seattle Times

A timely, topical, readable, and thought-provoking look at the history and legacy of double-entry bookkeeping.
— Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed

Elegantly written . . . charts the epic journey of the humble device that showed how to count the cost of everything, from the Doge’s Palace to the acrobatics of John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory.
— Nicholas Wapshott, author of Keynes Hayek

A stimulating approach that presents a compelling outline for further detailed review.
— Kirkus Reviews

Starred review. Lively and elegantly written account of the history of double-entry bookkeeping.... 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.
— Publishers Weekly

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393346596, 304pp.

Publication Date: October 7, 2013

About the Author

Jane Gleeson-White is the author of Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance, which won the 2012 Waverley Library Award for Literature. Gleeson-White has degrees in economics and literature from the University of Sydney.