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An Infographic Tour de Force

Reading Time: 3 minutes

WWII and the myriad of associated publications are not often things you associate with designers – something about designers and military and war that generally do not go together. And while I’ve never had an aversion to military history, and always had a passing interest in military hardware, it’s been a very, very, long time since a new book’s been added to the shelf. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I bought a book on the subject.

So it was with some surprise that a new book did end up on our shelves, by way of our 7 year old, who has what could only be called a completely self generated interest in the topics of WWI and II; and no, it’s not easy trying to teach a young one the complexities of such topics. But perhaps what was most surprising was just what the book was…

Gerard Thomas Illustration - World War II Infographics review

Unlike most books on the subject, which are either pictorial or voluminous in nature, World War II Infographics takes the interesting approach of interpreting the mountains of statistical data compiled after the war:

“More books have been written about World War II than hours have passed since it ended. And that tidal wave of aper is nothing compared to the sea of data produced by institutions – including the armed forces, ministries, governments, embassies, commissions, agencies, committees, offices, missions, businesses and think tanks – the were involved in the greatest conflict of all time.”

Written by Jean Lopez, Nicolas Aubin and Vincent Bernard, all active authors of military affairs, historical and current, they did not not aim to simply interpret all the data available – “A complete list of data sources on the American oil industry between 1940 and 1943 alone would not fit in this book”. Through use of the available data, they cleverly aim to explain define, and give context to the major elements of the war and it’s aftermath.

But rather than simply reproducing the tables and charts, information designer Nicolas Guillerat digested , then reinterprets it graphically, giving what otherwise would be an overwhelming amount of dry, soulless and quite possibly mindnumbing information, a fresh dynamic.

Breaking World War II into elements, defined not by historical opinion, or as narration written by the victors, but by hard statistics, World War II Infographics gives the reader an unparalleled view into the neutral reality, both in the lead up to, and of the war itself. Most importantly, it clearly illustrates, in terms that are easy to understand, the impact it had on a global scale.

For anyone with a passing interest in the history and impact of World War II, or looking for an unbiased education source, I could not recommend World War II Infographics more. It’s design, presentation and interpretation of data, make it a book easy to return to over and over again, to be consumed in small chunks; which is a good thing considering the gravity of the content.

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