of the Profession: A Personal Journey
Softcover edition published by the author
in 2004. $19.95 (s/h included); mail check to Eli Mason;
1212 Avenue of the Americas, 24th floor; New York, N.Y.
Reviewed by Robert L. Israeloff
MAY 2005 - Eli
Mason, during testimony in 1978 to a U.S. House of Representatives
subcommittee investigating the accounting profession, recognized
that he ran “the risk of being called a gadfly or
25 years before that testimony, and for 25 years after,
thousands of CPAs no doubt agreed that Mason was exactly
as characterized, a dissenter. On the other hand, many passionate
followers lauded his willingness to comment on the profession’s
issues of the day and to criticize the established order,
the AICPA, the large international firms, and anyone who
disagreed with his firmly held beliefs.
Conscience of the Profession: A Personal Journey,
Mason presents a history of the accounting profession over
its first 100 years in the United States as he sees it.
The book is a series of commentaries and personal stories,
comprising 90 pages and a 180-page appendix of reprints
of Mason’s articles, opinions, and letters.
does not have to agree with Mason to find his book informative
and interesting. The sections on the founding of the profession,
on the Congressional hearings of the 1970s, on tax shelters,
and on auditor rotation all provide meaningful reading.
His decades-old calls for a national CPA certificate, for
restrictions on consulting services to protect auditor independence,
for auditor rotation, and for peer review certainly resonate
with the reader in the light of the corporate accounting
scandals of the past five years.
has been a prolific contributor to the accounting press
over the years, and the reproduction of hundreds of his
writings in this book provides clear evidence of that. The
writing is lucid, provocative, and challenging, but always
with a strong personal viewpoint. A first-time reader of
his prose might conclude that nothing was ever right in
the accounting profession. If you agree with him on an issue,
you are reading the work of a courageous champion. If you
disagree, you may question why you devoted your time to
this last caveat in mind, Conscience of the Profession is
one of the few places where one can find thoughtful opposition
to many of the decisions and initiatives of the leadership
of the accounting profession over the past decades.
L. Israeloff, CPA, of Israeloff Trattner & Co.,
is a past president of the NYSSCPA and a past chairman of