The Rules of Contagion (Hardback)

Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop

Adam Kucharski

The new science of contagion, and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour

An Observer Book of the Year
A Times Science Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book of the Year
A Financial Times Science Book of the Year

'It is hard to imagine a more timely book ... much of the modern world will make more sense having read it.' The Times

A deadly virus suddenly explodes into the population. A political movement gathers pace, and then quickly vanishes. An idea takes off like wildfire, changing our world forever. We live in a world that's more interconnected than ever before. Our lives are shaped by outbreaks - of disease, of misinformation, even of violence - that appear, spread and fade away with bewildering speed.

To understand them, we need to learn the hidden laws that govern them. From 'superspreaders' who might spark a pandemic or bring down a financial system to the social dynamics that make loneliness catch on, The Rules of Contagion offers compelling insights into human behaviour and explains how we can get better at predicting what happens next.

Along the way, Adam Kucharski explores how innovations spread through friendship networks, what links computer viruses with folk stories - and why the most useful predictions aren't necessarily the ones that come true.

Publication date: 13/02/2020

£16.99

ISBN: 9781788160193

Imprint: Wellcome Collection

Subject: Science & Mathematics

The Rules of Contagion (Ebook)

Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop

Adam Kucharski

The new science of contagion, and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour

An Observer Book of the Year
A Times Science Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book of the Year
A Financial Times Science Book of the Year

'It is hard to imagine a more timely book ... much of the modern world will make more sense having read it.' The Times

A deadly virus suddenly explodes into the population. A political movement gathers pace, and then quickly vanishes. An idea takes off like wildfire, changing our world forever. We live in a world that's more interconnected than ever before. Our lives are shaped by outbreaks - of disease, of misinformation, even of violence - that appear, spread and fade away with bewildering speed.

To understand them, we need to learn the hidden laws that govern them. From 'superspreaders' who might spark a pandemic or bring down a financial system to the social dynamics that make loneliness catch on, The Rules of Contagion offers compelling insights into human behaviour and explains how we can get better at predicting what happens next.

Along the way, Adam Kucharski explores how innovations spread through friendship networks, what links computer viruses with folk stories - and why the most useful predictions aren't necessarily the ones that come true.

Publication date: 13/02/2020

£6.99

ISBN: 9781782834304

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B07JLSHT7M

Imprint: Wellcome Collection

Subject: Science & Mathematics

The Rules of Contagion (Audiobook)

Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop

Adam Kucharski

The new science of contagion, and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour

An Observer Book of the Year
A Times Science Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book of the Year
A Financial Times Science Book of the Year

'It is hard to imagine a more timely book … much of the modern world will make more sense having read it.' The Times

A deadly virus suddenly explodes into the population. A political movement gathers pace, and then quickly vanishes. An idea takes off like wildfire, changing our world forever. We live in a world that's more interconnected than ever before. Our lives are shaped by outbreaks – of disease, of misinformation, even of violence – that appear, spread and fade away with bewildering speed.

To understand them, we need to learn the hidden laws that govern them. From 'superspreaders' who might spark a pandemic or bring down a financial system to the social dynamics that make loneliness catch on, The Rules of Contagion offers compelling insights into human behaviour and explains how we can get better at predicting what happens next.

Along the way, Adam Kucharski explores how innovations spread through friendship networks, what links computer viruses with folk stories – and why the most useful predictions aren't necessarily the ones that come true.

Publication date: 13/02/2020

£19.99

ISBN: 9781782836841

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B084BWHCB9

Imprint: Wellcome Collection

Subject: Science & Mathematics

Read by: Joe Jameson

The Rules of Contagion (Paperback)

Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop

Adam Kucharski

The new science of contagion, and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour

'It is hard to imagine a more timely book ... much of the modern world will make more sense having read it.' The Times

'Brilliant and authoritative' - Alex Bellos, author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland

A deadly virus suddenly explodes into the population. A political movement gathers pace, and then quickly vanishes. An idea takes off like wildfire, changing our world forever. We live in a world that's more interconnected than ever before. Our lives are shaped by outbreaks - of disease, of misinformation, even of violence - that appear, spread and fade away with bewildering speed. To understand them, we need to learn the hidden laws that govern them. From 'superspreaders' who might spark a pandemic or bring down a financial system to the social dynamics that make loneliness catch on, The Rules of Contagion offers compelling insights into human behaviour and explains how we can get better at predicting what happens next.

Along the way, Adam Kucharski explores how innovations spread through friendship networks, what links computer viruses with folk stories - and why the most useful predictions aren't necessarily the ones that come true.

Publication date: 19/03/2020

£12.99

ISBN: 9781788164726

Imprint: Wellcome Collection

Subject: Science & Mathematics

The Rules of Contagion (Paperback)

Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop

Adam Kucharski

The bestselling - and hugely timely - guide to the science of contagion, revised and updated to address Covid-19

An Observer Book of the Year
A Times Science Book of the Year
A New Statesman Book of the Year
A Financial Times Science Book of the Year

'Astonishingly bold' Daily Mail

'It is hard to imagine a more timely book ... much of the modern world will make more sense having read it.' The Times

We live in a world that's more interconnected than ever before. Our lives are shaped by outbreaks - of disease, of misinformation, even of violence - that appear, spread and fade away with bewildering speed. To understand them, we need to learn the hidden laws that govern them. From 'superspreaders' who might spark a pandemic or bring down a financial system to the social dynamics that make loneliness catch on, The Rules of Contagion offers compelling insights into human behaviour and explains how we can get better at predicting what happens next.

Along the way, Adam Kucharski explores how innovations spread through friendship networks, what links computer viruses with folk stories - and why the most useful predictions aren't necessarily the ones that come true.

Now revised and updated with content on Covid-19.

Publication date: 28/01/2021

£9.99

ISBN: 9781788160209

Imprint: Wellcome Collection

Subject: Science & Mathematics

Reviews for The Rules of Contagion

'Astonishingly bold'

 Daily Mail

'Perfect timing'

 Financial Times

'Popular science at its best ... sparkling and clear. The subject is deeply fascinating and highly relevant ... Once you have read it, you will want to make sure others read it too.'

Alex Bellos, author Alex's Adventures in Numberland

'An impressively fluent, fascinating and accessible introduction to how epidemics, trends, behaviours and ideas start, spread - and end ... a work of contemporary relevance that Malcolm Gladwell devotees would enjoy.'

 New Statesman

'It is hard to imagine a more timely book ... much of the modern world will make more sense having read it.'

 The Times

'Adam Kucharski [is] fast becoming a key voice of reason in the media circus surrounding the virus ... Here he gives a clear, calm, historical overview of the mathematical ideas at the forefront of our pandemic response, where they came from and how well they stand up when you put them to the test.'

Hannah Fry Guardian

'This is a hell of a moment for a book like this to come out ... the principles of contagion, which, Kucharski argues, can be applied to everything from folk stories and financial crises to itching and loneliness, are suddenly of pressing interest to all of us.'

 Sunday Times

'Rich in stories, The Rules of Contagion is a down-to-earth account of how mathematical approaches can help us better understand and, in turn, better respond to contagion in all its dynamic forms. Tackling issues from pandemics and gun violence, to financial crises and misinformation, Adam Kucharski inspires us all to think like mathematicians. A must read for anybody interested in epidemics and other crises.'

Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine 

'For anyone wanting to know how diseases spread, Adam Kucharski's book, The Rules of Contagion is a timely introduction.'

 Irish Independent

'For now Adam Kucharski's The Rules of Contagion is the book you want to reach for ... interesting and topical'

Laura Spinney Guardian

'Illuminating ... Coronavirus has prompted hot-headed public and media reaction; this book offers comfort in the form of cold, hard facts.'

 Prospect Magazine

'One of the Economist's 'five books of science and history that cast light on covid-19': This book charts the history of this now-pivotal science, from its origins in understanding the spread of malaria at the turn of the 20th century, to its central role in predicting the dissemination of everything from diseases to fake news in the 21st.'

 Economist

'The Rules of Contagion is a timely reminder of the importance of disease modelling. Without such models, we would be in far greater trouble battling COVID-19.'

 Lancet

'Lively, intriguing and elegant'

 Spectator

'A geeky but fascinating exploration of the mathematics of things that go viral-not least of them viruses ... Kucharski takes his readers down provocative detours, such as the use of public-health models of disease transmission to examine how social networks figure in urban gun violence, with algorithms that take into account such things as 'age, gang affiliations, and prior arrests.'... Utterly timely and readable. '

 Kirkus

'Essential reading to truly process the pandemic'

Anjana Ahuja New Statesman

'Perhaps no commentator has been in greater demand this year than Adam Kucharski ... The Rules of Contagion is an accessible guide to the mathematical rules that govern the spread of infectious diseases in populations ... [which] makes a convincing case that just as mathematics can predict the arc of an epidemic, so it can also help us understand how social contagions, from financial panics to vaccine conspiracy theories, "go viral".'

Gaia Vince, winner of the Royal Society Prize and author of Adventures in the Anthropocene Observer

Adam Kucharski

Adam Kucharski

Adam Kucharski is an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. A mathematician by training, his work on global outbreaks has included Ebola, Zika and COVID-19, and he has produced real-time analysis for multiple governments and health agencies. He is a TED senior fellow and winner of the 2016 Rosalind Franklin Award Lecture and the 2012 Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize. The author of The Perfect Bet, his writing has appeared in the Observer, Financial Times, Wired and New Statesman.

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