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The Rules of Contagion

Why Things Spread – and Why They Stop

Bright red book cover with black and white text, featuring a vertical black arrow running down the middle and ‘2m’ in the centre of the arrow.

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.

Read an extract

Date published
352 pages

About the author

Photographic, black and white, head and shoulders portrait of Adam Kucharski.

Adam Kucharski

Adam Kucharski is an associate professor and Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, working on global outbreaks such as 2019-nCoV, influenza and Zika. He is a TED senior 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 also the author of ‘The Perfect Bet: How Science and Maths Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling’.