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Book Title: A State of Fear

Subtitle: How the UK government weaponised fear during the Covid-19 pandemic

Author: Laura Dodsworth


ISBN: 9781780667201


Price: £9.99


This is a book about fear. Fear of a virus. Fear of death. Fear of losing our jobs, our democracy, our human connections, our health and our minds. It’s also about how the government weaponised our fear against us – supposedly in our best interests – until we were the most frightened country in Europe.

But why did the government deliberately frighten us, and how has this affected us as individuals and as a country? Who is involved in the decision-making that affects our lives? How are behavioural science and nudge theory being used to subliminally manipulate us? How does the media leverage fear? What are the real risks to our wellbeing?

Ahead of any official inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Laura Dodsworth explores all these questions and more, in a nuanced and thought-provoking discussion of an extraordinary year in British life and politics. With stories from members of the general public who were impacted by fear, anxiety and isolation, and revealing interviews with psychologists, politicians, scientists, lawyers, Whitehall advisers and journalists, A State of Fear calls for a more hopeful, transparent and effective democracy.

Author's Biography

Laura Dodsworth is an author, journalist, photographer and filmmaker and has been described as a ‘latter-day punchy Cassandra’ and a ‘Slayer of Taboos’. Her previous books Bare Reality: 100 women, their breasts, their stories, Manhood: The Bare Reality and Womanhood: The Bare Reality have attracted worldwide media coverage and excellent reviews. Laura and the creation of Womanhood were the subject of a documentary for Channel 4, 100 Vaginas, which received 5 star reviews and has been broadcast around the world.


~ The Sunday Times Bestseller ~

‘This is an important book. The use of fear as a tool of political management is a major challenge to democracy which everyone should reflect upon, whatever their view about lockdowns and Covid-19.’ ~ Lord Sumption

‘A chilling post-mortem of 2020’s silent epidemic – fear – and how it was used by a behavioural science apparat to terrify us into submission. It’s a thorough, fascinating and important book which I absolutely loved- I couldn’t put it down!’ ~ Patrick Fagan, behavioural scientist

‘This book is a thoroughly researched account of the amplification of public fear throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It asks vital questions about the science and ethics of behavioural interventions. These have gone beyond “nudging” to undermine democratic values and the rule of law. UK citizens will suffer from the consequences for many years to come.’ ~ Robert Dingwall, Professor of Sociology, Nottingham Trent University

‘What speaks so powerfully in this work are the voices of those affected by the extraordinary social experiment that lockdown has been. Dodsworth draws out their experiences and puts them centre stage, while taking the reader through the techniques and strategies through which fear was made the most potent weapon in obtaining submission. A stimulating and often disturbing read.’ ~ Francis Hoar, barrister

‘Laura Dodsworth has a rare and beautiful talent to observe a situation, process its many layers and present it to the world in exquisite, thought-provoking detail. Without hysteria or anger, she has studied and distilled the forces at work throughout the Covid pandemic so that we may see the world more clearly This is a vital, eye-opening book which provides balance to an otherwise one-sided story.’ ~ Beverley Turner, writer and broadcaster