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.