InÂ The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Tufte highlights Minardâ€™s famous graphic where the story of the lives (and deaths) of over 400,000 soldiers is told during Napoleonâ€™s invasion of Russia.Â Tufte declares it the first infographic that combines geographical elements with time and temperature variables. But the most relevant aspect of the chart is that it tells a story in a very effective manner. For instance, we can compare this chart with the one that is found in the campaign’s Wikipedia article:
This graphic has a lot details, including information regarding the mobilizations and the commanders. However, it fails to highlight something crucial: the harshness of the russian winter.
Minardâ€™s visualization fluently tells the drama of a failed campaign, the inhumane temperatures, the embarrassing recall of a decimated army. Itâ€™s so clear, that it provides information with just a glance, and yet it invites to a scrutiny that is rewarded with the understanding of a story.
And at the end, this is what we should do with graphics: no just provide information but awaken an interest, tell a story.