THE BIG SIX

THE SELLING OUT OF AMERICA'S TOP ACCOUNTING FIRMS

In 1981, Stevens (Sudden Death, 1989, etc.) authored The Big Eight, an enlightening rundown on the pick-of-the-litter partnerships that audit publicly held corporations, government agencies, philanthropic institutions, and other organizations whose books need independent keeping. Ten years later, he's back with an equally illuminating report on what's been happening at the top of the accounting trade in the interim. As his title suggests, there was a full measure of turmoil in the numbers game during the 1980's. For openers, two major mergers have made an elite octet a beset sextet comprised (in order of 1989 revenues) of: Ernst & Young; Arthur Andersen; Deloitte & Touche; KMPG Peat Marwick; Coopers & Lybrand; and Price Waterhouse. Owing to the high overhead required to maintain a multinational practice, Stevens expects at least a couple of the firms still at the top to join forces by the turn of the century. As he makes clear, moreover, all survivors must cope with pressing problems in court, in house, and in the marketplace. Using inculpatory case studies, the author conveys a good idea of the staggering liabilities that threaten CPA firms as a result of slipshod work for S&Ls and other gaudy casualties of excessively free enterprise. He also documents the efforts of managing partners to mollify captive consulting units whose restive, even rebellious, staffers are convinced their contributions are unappreciated and inadequately rewarded. In the meantime, Stevens notes, the once-clubby calling of big-time accounting has turned competitive as ambitious auditors vie to expand their client rosters. Among other consequences, he implies, this increases the risk of conflicts of interest and raises disturbing questions about some practitioners' professionalism (e.g., are they for hireor sale?). An update that stands on its own as a source of valuable perspectives on a business whose for-the-record opinions can undergird (or undermine) public confidence in the integrity of the financial statements issued by commerce and industry.

Pub Date: April 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-69549-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1991

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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