Diagrams are practical ways of conveying information and a necessary tool for visual learners. The best of them are executed with style and skill, and are quite beautiful to behold. Yet, diagrams are so common that we hardly ever stop to reflect upon their artistic merits or importance to mankind. Scott Christianson's "100 Diagrams That Changed the World" is a perfect excuse to stop and closely contemplate these useful beauties.
Beginning with the Chauvet Cave Drawings and ending with a patent drawing of the iPod, Christianson takes us on a chronological journey of visual information. Each two page spread is host to a diagram of historical significance and a brief but information-packed description. All the obvious entries are there: the Rosetta Stone, da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" and the Periodic Table. However, it's the unexpected entries that challenge your preconceptions and provide delightful bits of trivia: a tablet dating back to 1400 B. C. is the earliest known "sheet music," emoticons were a product of the 19th century, and the map in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" ignited the imagination of children with the false pretense that pirates created maps to their treasure and marked the spot with an "X." This fascinating catalog is a must read for anyone interested in the arts, science or history.
--Kelly B., Headquarters