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Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives Hardcover


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Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives + Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life + Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings
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Read an excerpt of Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler's Connected [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (September 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316036145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316036146
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Harvard professor and health care policy specialist Christakis (Death Foretold: Prophecy and Prognosis in Medical Care) became interested in social connectivity when observing that the mortality rate of spouses spike after a partner passes away. Christakis sought out a collaboration with Fowler, a health systems and political scientist, and together they compare topology (the hows of a given structure) across different social networks to better explain how participation and positioning enhances the effectiveness of an individual, and why the "whole" of a network is "greater than the sum of its parts." Five basic rules describe the relationship between individuals and their networks-including mutual adaptation, the influence of friends and friends' friends, the network's "life of its own"-but the results do more than promote the good of the group: they also spread contagions; create "epidemics" of obesity, smoking and substance abuse; disseminate fads and markets; alter voting patterns; and more. A thorough but popular take on a complex phenomenon, this volume offers an entertaining guide to the mechanics and importance of human networking. 13 b/w illustrations, 8-page color insert.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Christakis and Fowler have written the book on the exciting new science of social networks. With passion and precision, these two internationally renowned scientists expose the invisible webs that connect each of us to the other, and in so doing cast our lives here together in an astonishing new light. We think we are individuals who control our own fates, but as Christakis and Fowler demonstrate, we are merely cells in the nervous system of a much greater beast. If someone you barely know reads CONNECTED, it could change your life forever. How? Read it yourself and find out."-- "The book has all sorts of interesting information about how our friends influence our lives, for better and for worse."
Daniel Gilbert, bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness

"[In a category of] works of brilliant originality that can stimulate and enlighten and can sometimes even change the way we understand the world."—The New York Times

"Groundbreaking...."—Kirkus

"An entertaining guide to the mechanics and importance of human networking."—Publishers Weekly

"Engaging and insightful...sure-to-be a blockbuster...Connected succeeds in connecting with its audience."—SeedMagazine.com

"Illuminating...The authors excel at drawing out the devil in the detail. [Connected] has profound implications."—New Scientist

"Intriguing."—SmartMoney.com

"Connected explores the startling intricacies of social networks."—O, The Oprah Magazine

"The book has all sorts of interesting information about how our friends influence our lives, for better and for worse."—MarieClaire.com

"Connected argues convincingly that it's not enough to understand how individuals behave. The book details examples of how individual behaviors affect other members of a social network."-ScienceNews.com



"This wonderful book by Christakis and Fowler could well be one of the most important works of the decade. In a clear and engaging way, the authors apply their creative and provocative findings on social networks to understanding not only our social relationships but also the forces that shape our world. Full of fascinating stories and examples, this book is essential in understanding our very nature. A must read."—Ed Diener, Joseph Smiley Distinguished Professor of Psychology University of Illinois and author of Happiness

"Fascinating... the dozens of interconnected stories of research findings by Chriastkis and Fowler and others leave me eager to learn about the next wave of research in this area."—Andrew Gelman, author of Red State, Blue State

"What makes us human -- for good and bad -- is our social nature. Nowhere is this complex, wonderful, and sometimes dark part of us more clearly revealed than in Connected. In a social world exploding with new ways to interact, Connected is a user's guide for ourselves in the 21st century."—Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics and author of Predictably Irrational

"A God's-eye view of social relationships that may make you dizzy. Every business leader, teacher, and parent should see their life from this vantage."—Chip Heath, author Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

"An old adage tells us, 'You can't chose your family.' After reading Connected, you will find that you can't choose many things in your life. Others choose them for you! Christakis and Fowler take a fresh look at an old idea: that who we know matters. Connected is a lively, well-written account of social networks and their power to shape our lives. Complicated ideas become easy to understand and the mysteries of science unfold in front of your eyes. The world becomes smaller and more meaningful after reading this engaging book."—Sudhir Venkatesh, author of Gang Leader for a Day

"From health and happiness to fads and financial markets, Christakis and Fowler take us on a dazzling tour of the world of social networks. And in showing how these networks matter in our individual lives, the authors also make the deeper point that "network thinking" is the key to understanding how all our lives fit together."-Duncan Watts, author of Six Degrees

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Customer Reviews

Writing style: I enjoyed reading this book.
Brian Needham
Christakis and Fowler very convincingly argue that both these perspectives can be complemented by a third, overarching perspective, a network perspective.
Alex Mamalis
Overall, this books deserves a huge thumbs up, and I highly recommend anyone interested in the above to read it!!
Yuri T. Jadotte

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 82 people found the following review helpful By moderate user on December 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
While the statistics in the original journal articles might be fine, the authors do not present the interpretations in a particularly convincing way. Many interpretations given are just stated and the reader is apparently supposed to accept that explanation without evidence why it is the correct explanation. Even I can think of alternate explanations for some of their observed data.
Also, in many chapters the point is made and then elaborated upon for pages when they could've stopped much earlier--or else instead of just restating the same conclusions over-and-over, they could've told why other explanations don't work.
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49 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Schultz on September 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. Sensitive, aware people perceive on a daily basis that actions, behaviors and emotions impact the lives of those around us, but the science that proves conclusively that your behaviors are impacting mine, my spouse's and friend's in Idaho offers such hope for improvement in the cosmic social network of which we all have our "connectedness". I loved the anecdotal stories - Nicholas and Erika meeting, the Starbucks employee, crazy unstoppable laughter - to which each reader will add additional network stories. We are connected, like it or not, so perhaps we can all start behaving in ways that benefit the entire network. Everyone who reads this will think twice about the impact of cutting someone off in traffic. Dr Christakis and Dr. Fowler have written for the scientific world, NY Times and lay reader - all who are part of the network.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jay C. Smith on November 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Nicholas A. Christakis (MD, PhD) and James H. Fowler (PhD) hold a high opinion about the potential value of their own field of expertise: "If we do not understand social networks, we cannot hope to fully understand either ourselves or the world we inhabit." Having read their book Connected I am generally inclined to agree with them, although I remain skeptical of much they have to say, including the validity of some of their most attention-grabbing conclusions. The book exhibits many of the merits that accrue when scientific authors are skilled at writing for a popular audience, but it also illustrates some of the perils that arise when complex and technical research details are truncated to make the product palatable for non-specialists. Nevertheless, anyone with a serious interest in the social sciences, public health, or public policy generally, but not previously fully-versed in social network analysis, should find Connected very instructive.

That is my summary judgment and you can stop here if you just want to understand why I assigned four stars. Connected is rich in content and I apologize that to summarize the book fairly and further justify my evaluation requires considerably more words, quite likely more than you may want to read at this point.

Social networks consist of humans and the connections between them. Most of us are members of "multiplex" networks involving different kinds of connections such as family, close friends, coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances, and so on. We can be either directly connected to others (first degree of separation), or indirectly so, through the second degree (a friend of a friend, for instance) up to about six degrees of separation to cover the globe.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By B. Kim on October 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Connected" by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler is one of the most important books you will ever read. In this insightful and thought-provoking book, the authors explore our social networks and their powerful shaping role in our daily lives. The authors show that the powerful role of social networks obeys the Three Degrees of Influence Rule, meaning that our behaviors have impact on our friends, our friends' friends, and our friends' friends' friends. This amazing fact can be applied to human experience as diverse as happiness, loneliness and other emotions, political views, sex, and health. For example, happiness can spread through social networks from person to person to person, and our health behaviors can affect those of our friends, our friends' friends, and even our friends' friends' friends.

As I perused this book twice since its publication, I found reading "Connected" very delightful since it presents a constellation of thought-provoking, and sometimes counter-intuitive, ideas on social networks. We can enjoy the book solely for the purpose of enhancing our knowledge. But I think this book is much more than that and has meaningful implications in various ways. First and foremost, the book has very important implications for policymakers. For instance, as the authors articulated in Chapter 4, social-network perspectives can offer a whole new set of cost-effective public-health interventions. This innovative approach is particularly relevant at a time when soaring costs of health care are a major issue and health care reform is gaining momentum. Many policymakers now know that nudging is important, but they don't know how to implement it. This book provides a good answer.

Second, "Connected" has significant implications for academia as well.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Peter Hickey on November 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book opens very well and is extremely convincing... If only it kept this pace. By the end I felt I'd invested enough into the book that I had to finish it even though it had stumbled into common sense connections with little more to add of insightful value. This book is worth it to read about the contagion of obesity and even the public health connections but it should have ended there. Sometimes less is more.
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