The world certainly suffers no shortage of accounting texts. The many out there help readers prepare, audit, interpret and explain corporate financial statements. What has been missing is a book offering context and discussion for divisive issues such as taxes, debt, options, and earnings volatility. King addresses the why
of accounting instead of the how
, providing practitioners and students with a highly readable history of U.S. corporate accounting. More Than a Numbers Game: A Brief History of Accounting
was inspired by Arthur Levitt's landmark 1998 speech delivered at New York University. The Securities and Exchange Commission chairman described the too-little challenged custom of earnings management and presaged the breakdown in the US corporate accounting three years later.
Somehow, over a one-hundred year period, accounting morphed from a tool used by American railroad managers to communicate with absent British investors into an enabler of corporate fraud. How this happened makes for a good business story. This book is not another description of accounting scandals. Instead it offers a history of ideas.
Each chapter covers a controversial topic that emerged over the past century. Historical background and discussion of people involved give relevance to concepts discussed. The author shows how economics, finance, law and business customs contributed to accounting's development. Ideas presented come from a career spent working with accounting information.