Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Graphic Is Worth a Thousand Words

This chart was created by a Frenchman named Charles Joseph Minard who wanted to show the losses suffered by Napolean's army that invaded Russia.

I love this graphic because it tells a story using several variables. The brown band depicts the size of the army as it invaded Russia with 422,000 men. As they travel eastward in the cold weather, the band thins as men die or run off. By the time they get to Moscow, there are only 100,000 men left. The black band represents their return journey. The line at the bottom of the graphic shows the falling temperatures during the return. That little tiny black band that meets up with the beginning of the brown band represents the number of men who made it home -- about 10,000.

After analyzing this graphic, I've come to the conclusion that invading Moscow was a tactical error.