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The Rules of Contagion


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

About the Author

Adam Kucharski is an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, working on global outbreaks such as the Ebola epidemic and the Zika virus. He is a TED fellow and winner of the 2016 Rosalind Franklin Award Lecture and the 2012 Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize. He has written for the Observer, Financial Times, Scientific American, and New Statesman. He is the author of The Perfect Bet: How Science and Maths Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling.


An astonishingly bold survey of the epidemiology of more or less everything in our inter-connected world ... Kucharski has pulled off the extraordinary trick of shining the brightest light on this unseen, menacing, but ultimately beatable, enemy. * Daily Mail *
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 *
Perfect timing ... prepares the ground comprehensively for readers to make sense of what is happening today, by distilling the wisdom gathered by studying previous epidemics over more than a century. * Financial Times *
The Rules of Contagion is popular science at its best. The prose is sparkling and clear. The subject is deeply fascinating and highly relevant. Touching on psychology, medicine, network theory and mathematics, epidemiologist Adam Kucharski has written a brilliant and authoritative guide to the hidden laws of how things spread - from ideas and memes, to violence and deadly viruses. An example of its subject matter, this book is also highly contagious: once you have read it, you will want to make sure others read it too. -- Alex Bellos, author of Alex's Adventures in Numberland
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 twentieth century, to its central role in predicting the dissemination of everything from diseases to fake news in the twenty-first. * 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 *
[A] smart and engaging tour of epidemiology * New York Times *

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