I read Gladwell's new book Outliers- the start is interesting enough. As with his others, it's hard to know what to believe - statistics may not lie, but plenty of statisticians do.
Much more interesting, also harder work, is William J. Bernstein's A Splendid Exchange - How Trade Shaped The World.
I'm only two thirds of the way through, but I was stunned by some parallels to our present crisis. For instance Bernstein writes that at the height of the Dutch trading empire, investors ("zielkoopers" - literally "buyers of souls") actually traded a securitized instrument representing sailor's wages that was discounted to account for the 25% mortality rate of heading off to Asia.