Countless people suggested that I write this book. For nearly eight years after being asked to leave Fannie Mae at the end of 2004, I was advised by my personal counsel not to speak publicly about my experience at the company because of pending litigation. When I talked about it privately with friends and acquaintances, however—whether to explain how in just five years Fannie Mae could have gone from being one of the most successful companies in the country to being put into conservatorship, or to give them the back story on the accounting allegations leveled by its regulator—they invariably had the same reaction: “You have to write a book about that!”

I didn’t think I ever would, but three things happened to change my mind. First, ...

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