WASHINGTON - While the government devoted significant time and treasure to saving several large U.S. banks, it let some smaller institutions fail when there were alternatives, according to Sheila Bair, the former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

In Bair's new book "Bull by the Horns," released this week, she provides surprising new details about how the Federal Reserve Board's inaction prevented the rescue of United Commercial Bank in California, and how politics may have helped doom ShoreBank in Chicago.

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