I recently picked up Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's Moral Dilemmas (Blackwell, 1988), which developed from his doctoral dissertation. Having written a serviceable but undistinguished dissertation myself—one that would be wholly unsuitable for publication as a book—I'm always impressed by people whose dissertations are good enough to publish.
It occurred to me that it might be a useful exercise for graduate students, in thinking about their dissertation topic, to look at some books that were based on the author's dissertation. Even better would be to compare those books to the literature on that same topic from the five to ten years prior to the book's publication. The point is not necssarily to learn how to write a book-worthy dissertation, but to see how to write a dissertation that makes a really good contribution to the literature. (Since the book will probably differ from the dissertation, it might be worth getting the dissertation from ProQuest if you're really interested.)
One obvious problem in doing this is finding books that are based on dissertations. Sinnott-Armstrong's Moral Dilemmas is one. Peter van Inwagen's Essay on Free Will is another, though fourteen years elapsed between his finishing his PhD and the publication of the book. What other books were based on the author's dissertation?