The Lost Bank

The Lost Bank

The Story of Washington Mutual-The Biggest Bank Failure in American History

During the most dizzying days of the financial crisis, Washington Mutual, a bank with hundreds of billions of dollars in its coffers, suffered a crip­pling bank run. The story of its final, brutal collapse in the autumn of 2008, and its controversial sale to JPMorgan Chase, is an astonishing account of how one bank lost itself to greed and mismanagement, and how the entire financial industry—even the entire country—lost its way as well.

Written as compellingly as the finest fiction, The Lost Bank introduces readers to the regulators and the bankers, the home buyers and the lenders who together created the largest bank failure in American history. The result is a magisterial and gripping account of the incredible rise and the precipitous collapse of not only an institution but of trust, fortunes, and the marketplaces for risk across the world.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451617931 | 
  • July 2013
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The Failure of Washington Mutual

THE LOST BANK by Kirsten Grind chronicles the incredible rise and the precipitous collapse of Washington Mutual, an institution of trust, fortunes, and the marketplace for risk across the world.

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Read an Excerpt



Always an early riser, Steve Rotella arrived at WaMu just before 7:00 a.m. on September 25, 2008. The autumn morning was cool and dark. The president and chief operating officer of the country’s largest savings and loan bank was almost always among the first executives to show up each day.

Rotella lived with his wife, Esther, in a 7,200-square-foot house abutting a large cemetery in the upscale, trendy Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Each day Rotella climbed into his BMW and made the short trip downtown, easily navigating the now-familiar back roads to the office. He avoided... see more
Chapter One


Not only will we succeed financially, we will succeed as human beings.

—Lou Pepper, speech to Washington Mutual employees

In 1951, Lou Pepper arrived in Seattle after World War II with no job prospects and lackluster interest from the law firms where he tried to find work. Now, thirty years later, he held the position of senior partner of a firm with sixty lawyers, a title that he, as a boy growing up in a farming town during the Great Depression, could hardly have fathomed. He had a lovely wife named Mollie and four children, almost all grown up. At fifty-seven, he was... see more

About the Author

Kirsten Grind
Photograph by Sultan Khan

Kirsten Grind

Kirsten Grind has received more than a dozen national awards for her work, including a Pulitzer Prize finalist citation. A reporter for The Wall Street Journal, she lives in New York City.




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