Author(s): Jacob Soll
In The Reckoning, award-winning historian Jacob Soll shows how the use and misuse of financial bookkeeping has determined the fates of entire societies. Time and again, Soll reveals, good and honest accounting has been a tool to build successful companies, states and empires. Yet when it is neglected or falls into the wrong hands, accounting has contributed to cycles of destruction that continue to this day. Combining rigorous scholarship and fresh storytelling, The Reckoning traces the surprisingly powerful influence of accounting on financial and political stability, from the powerful Medici bank in 14th century Italy to the 2008 financial crisis.
Wry and lucid... In [Soll's] hands, accountability and accountancy becomes a way of investigating the rise and fall of nations... Without political will, financial accountability remains toothless, but what scope is there for rigorous accountability when the accountancy firms behind banks and corporations thought too big to fail are already their advisers and representatives? Perhaps some rather old lessons from the surprisingly exciting history of accountancy can help us deal with these not so very new problems Financial Times Mr. Soll spices his story with big historical personalities... [He] earns high marks for brevity...as well as for scholarship Wall Street Journal Jacob Soll develops the case that double entry ranks with gravitation, calculus and relativity, as he uses the history of accounting to provide insight into business and political history Prospect Who would imagine that a history of accounting and double-entry bookkeeping could be so engaging? Yet in this concise, sharply argued book, Jacob Soll deftly examines and explains the remarkable impact that the practice of accounting has had on the rise-and sometimes the fall-of nation states -- Jack Rakove, winner of the Pulitzer Prize A tale of power, empire, art and culture-and of their half-hidden puppetmasters from the Roman Empire to the Gilded Age -- James K. Galbraith, author of The End of Normal A dramatic story of politics, morality, printing, temptation and the destiny of economic society -- Emma Rothschild, author of Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment
Jacob Soll is a Professor of History and Accounting at the University of Southern California, and received his doctorate from Cambridge University. He is the author of Publishing The Prince, which won the Jacques Barzun Prize from the American Philosophical Society, and The Information Master. A MacArthur 'Genius' Fellow, Soll writes regularly for the New York Times, Book Forum, and The New Republic.