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The images will not go away–huge multinational corporations failing, well-dressed executives being led away in handcuffs, and public accounting firms being charged for complicity. How do we make sense of the reality behind these images? Is it, as cynics claim, that public accountants are self-seeking, offering a form of window-dressing for greedy corporate executives? Or is public accounting a profession doing the best it can in the face of difficult circumstances? Are public accountants driven by the profit motive or are they seeking a truth in accounting? Neu and Green argue that it is impossible to answer these questions without examining the historical evolution of public accountancy. Their analysis illustrates that public accountancy is simultaneously a business and a public service–thus to try to understand it in any other way misses the tension that is always present between these two faces of the profession.