Home > 88. The Quaggas of Creativity, C. The Thinker As Hero > Charles Minard: Did You Get That?

Charles Minard: Did You Get That?



Napoleon was the first in modern times to learn the hard way just how tough winter in Russia can be. You really, really do not want to fight a war on the eastern front without adequate planning and preparation.

Surely no analysis of the Grande Armée’s defeat, however detailed, can drive the lesson home like this chart. What is more amazing is that this handsome graphic of the fate of the French invaders is not the result of some contemporary insight into the vivid presentation of data; it was published in 1869 by Charles Minard.

RT first ran across the graphic, which details the loss in French manpower during Napoleon’s invasion, in Edward Tufte‘s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, a powerful exposition of the ways that graphics can be used to underline the significance of what otherwise might be boring facts. Interesting things happen when the analytic and artistic minds collide…  RT


Graphic: Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia, Charles Minard; Wikipedia featured image; Public Domain.


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