The two authors of this amazing book wisely say in the intro that their endeavors are not really comparable to the Meggs, Hollis, Bringhurst or even newcomer Stephen Eskilson's standard history of graphics, design and typography. They have approached the subject in a fresh and I thought unique way.
The book is in four sections: Principles (design, type and print); Knowledge (books, online, collections and colleges); Representatives (designers, type creators, design writers and design clubs) and Practice (139 pages bulging with practical examples of anything designed. What I thought interesting was the way these four sections are developed to cover a phenomenal amount of information, either historical or contemporary, and presented primarily as visual items backed up with bite-size text.
Obviously the more technical aspects of design can only be covered briefly: print is wrapped up in twelve pages (and nothing on paper) but the range of design, from magazines to motion graphics or typography: anatomy; genealogy; classification; typesetting is spread over fifty-eight pages. Brand identity covering logos and corporate programs gets twenty-five pages. Perhaps the weakest part of the book is Recommended reading, summed up with just a spread and not including the 1989 `Typographic communications today' by Ed Gottschalk (ISBN 0262071142) or the 2001 `The art of looking sideways' by Alan Fletcher (ISBN 9780714834498) and a book I'm sure would have been included if it had been published before 2009, `Bibliographic: 100 classic graphic design books' (ISBN 9781856695923).
All of this information, which includes 2500 images, is deftly served up in a clear, straightforward page and typographic design which fortunately avoids one of the annoyances of books for designers: acres of empty page space (I tend to think this is only an indication of too little material for too many pages). There is though a slight annoyance with the book. Whenever a cross reference appears in the text a miniscule arrow is used pointing to a page number both of which are in a light tint and therefore almost unreadable.
As the title's sub-deck says `A visual guide to the language, application and history of graphic design' and I thought it worked a treat. A real-page turner presenting creativity in a fresh format.