Look at all the amazing graphics in this huge book and it's hard to imagine that the original data existed just as numbers and text, in black and probably printed on white paper. Some very clever designers have managed to turn this raw data into beautiful eye-catching images. It's not only numbers into charts though, several pages show diagrams that interpret a situation: Improvised Explosive Devices in Afghanistan (pages 144-145) or the Tour de France (page 193) for example.
The first ninety-six pages (printed on a shorter page width) with four essays, look at the background and history of charts and diagrams. The best I thought was by Simon Rogers of the Guardian with an interesting overview of data and the press. To go with the essays (in English, French and German) there are sixty-four illustrations as a visual timeline from 1144 BC to 2010. This includes a couple of old favourites, Minard's wonderful flow map of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow and Harry Beck's 1933 London Underground map.
The main section of the book is in four parts: Location; Time; Category; Hierarchy. Each explores graphics with generously sized images on the page and detailed sections where the original was quite large or a poster. The work is from the last ten years with a long caption to explain the concept and an additional caption for technical detail: project info; data source; research; design; illustration. I thought the range of material within the four sections very impressive and incredibly wide ranging, though predictably, some of the graphics really do appear to be unreadable (but pretty looking).
Once again Taschen have chosen a subject and given it their usual thorough treatment with a comprehensive editorial in a beautifully produced book. No doubt Edward Tufte would dismiss most of the content as `chart-junk' but I always thought his interesting observations were more concerned with the visual treatment of data for an academic or technical readership rather than eye candy for readers of magazines and the consumer press where so many of the book's graphics originally appeared.
###LOOK AT SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.