Thursday, 29 August 2019

The graphics of conflict

A fresh and fascinating look at World War II, surely the greatest conflict of the last century. The three editors and one graphic designer spent three years sifting through data to create fifty-three topics (divided into four chapters) about those extraordinary years, now eight decades ago. What I found particularly interesting was the scope of the book, this isn't just about the war years because the first chapter deals in detail with political, economic and social events that created the conflict and the last chapter considers various subjects like civilian and military losses in Germany and Russia, the Holocaust, concentration camps, Nazi collaborators, Manhattan project, dawn of the Cold War.

Chapter two (Arms and armed forces) and chapter three (Battles and campaigns) get down to explaining the actual events, who was involved and what they used. Some of the detail here is quite revealing, for example page sixty-one has a diagram showing the types of tank armour: five and the six types of shell fired by various tanks. The battles and campaigns chapter looks at significant set-pieces for example D-Day, Stalingrad, the battle of Britain, Barbarossa, the fall of France, Pearl Harbour, the desert war, conquest of the Pacific, Japan: the final days.

The strength of the book, is of course, its visual look. The layout is perfect as are the superb graphics and I find it surprising that the only credit for these is Nicolas Guillerat. This has the advantage of creating a uniform feel for the pages throughout the book. Each spread has one subject though a few run over to another spread, with a several hundred word essay, this fortunately isn't dry academic text but written in a conversational style (nicely translated from the French by Lorna Dale) which ties into the several graphics on the spreads. For those who want to know more the sources for all the information are at the bottom of each page.

I've been dipping into various pages of the book (it's not presented as a continuous read) and always come across some intriguing detail graphically explained that I wasn't aware of. It really is a fresh way of looking at World War II.

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