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Book Reviews – “The Rules of Contagion” by Adam Kucharski and “The Maths of Life and Death” by Kit Yates

Published in 2020 and 2019 respectively, these books are both very timely as we have all had to get to grips with epidemiology.  Whilst there are hopeful signs that we may be close to finding a way out of the current Covid-19 pandemic; the threat of future pandemics remains very real.

As the name suggests “The Rules of Contagion” is specifically focused on the science of disease outbreaks, explaining the important concepts in a very accessible way (with no equations).  Kucharski also shows how the underlying principles can be applied in many other areas of life including, of particular interest to our profession, financial crises and cyber-attacks!  “The Maths of Life and Death” is much broader in scope, looking at topics including medical statistics, the use of statistics in legal proceedings and statistics in the media before looking specifically at epidemics in the final chapter.  Once again, no equations were harmed in the production of this book.

I can thoroughly recommend both books.  If you are specifically interested in disease outbreaks then “The Rules of Contagion” goes into much more detail; but if you are interested in statistics more generally then “The Maths of Life and Death” is a great read.