657: More Than a Numbers Game by Thomas A. King
657.0973: King, Thomas A. More Than a Numbers Game: A Brief History of Accounting. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. 211 pp. ISBN 0-470-00873-3.
- 600: Technology
- 650: Management and auxiliary services
- 657: Accounting
- +0973: United States
You would be hard pressed to come up with a more soporific subject than that of accounting. Through no real fault of their own accountants are seen as the mousy, super-introverts of the world, subject to all kinds of negative portrayals in books and film. The truth is, nowadays, accountants keep the world afloat. World markets are propped up or deflated through the work of accounting. Investors, both big and small, need the work of accountants to decide where their money will go. Accounting in the U.S. specifically has had quite a storied past and Thomas King’s More Than a Numbers Game seeks to warm more people up to the field.
Instead of a perfect linear history of American accounting practices, King divides the field into areas of work. So, there’s a chapter on standards, on debts, on taxes, on options, and so forth. Each one of these gets a mini-history to show landmark changes, court decisions, and laws passed in each area. King tries desperately to make this interesting and, for small pockets it is, but on the whole, it’s a little dry. You have to have a bit of lingo under your belt already before going into this one or you’ll be lost when he starts in on capital depreciation, equity markets, and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. There’s a good deal of history here and folks going into the field will find this one a welcome addition to their shelves, but I’m glad that it ended when it did. Anything more than a brief history of accounting would have left me reeling.