Late one night in January, 2005, Carly Fiorina sat in a hotel room in Davos, Switzerland, where she was attending the World Economic Forum, in a state of angry dismay. She was the C.E.O. of Hewlett-Packard, and she believed that, in an effort to undermine her, members of the board were leaking confidential information about the company to the press. She had instructed lawyers to question all the members, so that they could “come clean.” Now, on a conference call, they still denied the leaking. Two weeks later, the board fired her. As she writes in “Rising to the Challenge,” her latest memoir, “Fearing for their positions, they behaved in an unprincipled fashion and ousted me from mine.”

Others have portrayed events differently, attributing Fiorina’s termination to unhappiness over H.P.’s merger with Compaq. She had sold the deal brilliantly, amid a bitter proxy fight, but the execution was badly managed, and the value of the stock fell. All this might have been of interest solely to business-school case writers had not Fiorina unexpectedly risen to the top tier of Republican Presidential contenders, joining the two other non-politicians in the race, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

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