Publisher speeds tell-all book by Lehman insider.

By Matthew Flynn in Crains Business 

Just when it seemed that publishers couldn’t possibly acquire another book about the financial crisis, Crown Publishers has signed one up and will be fast-tracking it to publication in July.

A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, by former Lehman Brothers Vice President Lawrence McDonald, will be “the first account since Michael Lewis did Liar’s Poker that is from somebody who was in the belly of the beast,” said Executive Editor John Mahaney, referring to the classic account of Wall Street in the 1980s.

Mr. McDonald will work with writer Patrick Robinson. The book will be published by Crown Business, an imprint of Crown Publishers, which is a division of Random House Inc.

A slew of books are currently in the works about various aspects of the financial meltdown, and some—like William D. Cohan’s House of Cards about the collapse of Bear Stearns Cos.—have already started hitting bookstores.

Other books on the crisis are due from HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, and four more are coming just from the Penguin Group alone. In addition, various publishers have signed about half a dozen books related to swindler Bernard Madoff.

Mr. Mahaney insisted that a story about Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which last year filed the biggest bankruptcy in history, was particularly relevant since the company’s collapse spurred a cascade of troubles on Wall Street.

Colossal Failure will also be notable for “revelations that haven’t made the light of day yet,” the editor added. They would include the fact that there were specific warnings from insiders about the wrong turns the investment bank was taking as far back as May 2005.

The book will also detail the revolt inside the company against then-Chief Executive Richard Fuld, and how the top executives steered the company straight past all the red flags.

“There were people [inside Lehman] who could have helped the ship miss the iceberg,” Mr. Mahaney said.

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