The book: The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win, by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen; Jossey-Bass; March 2010.

The big idea: So many companies inflate their eco-cred that the practice has a name: green-washing. By contrast, truly responsible companies view environmental ills and assorted global crises as opportunities to innovate and orient operations around doing better.

The backstory: Hollender is co-founder of Seventh Generation, a household-products company with a deep-green culture more than two decades old. Breen, Seventh Generation's editorial director, is a veteran business journalist.

If you read nothing else: Responsibility is rich with people and practices worth emulating. Case studies of Marks & Spencer and Nike are especially strong. If you don't know the Patagonia story, here's a fine synopsis.

Power tools: Responsibility describes mechanisms for ensuring good behavior, including Nike's Considered Index (which quantifies the ecological impact of design choices) and Patagonia's Footprint Chronicles (which documents the good, bad, and ugly processes and materials that go into a product).

Rigor rating: 9 (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). Hollender's access combined with Breen's reporting skills produce unusually detailed and thoughtful profiles.