Do business books matter? They can. And yet all those e-strategy and dot-com titles seem so ephemeral now. Strategies die before the ink dries and we are left with little more than a lonely stack of antiques.

Indeed, as the business press chases an accelerating cycle of fads, the experts no longer seem so expert. Their horizon is too short, their vision too small. Instead, the most useful business insights are coming from entirely different disciplines. In the case of one of our favorite books this year, Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, we learn much about the nature of disruptive change not from the Harvard Business School but from places like Sesame Street and the Centers for Disease Control.

The new economy, it turns out, is a complex and very human place that transcends the MBA’s rationality and the consultant’s easy patter. Books that offer a deep understanding of history, economics and culture can help us cut through the veil of clich

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