Also the author of Publishing "The Prince" and The Information Master, Jacob Soll here shows how the use or misuse of financial bookkeeping has determined the fates of entire societies, from the powerful Medici bank in 14th-century Italy to the 2008 financial crisis. 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 abused, accounting has contributed to cycles of ruin.
"Wry and lucid.... In [Soll's] hands, accountability and accountancy becomes a way of investigating the rise and fall of nations.... 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