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Visual Revelations: Graphical Tales of Fate and Deception From Napoleon Bonaparte To Ross Perot Hardcover – July 1, 2000
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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Howard Wainer's splendid How to Display Data Badly [Chapter 1] covers standard practice among advertisers, economists, and apologists, and should be distributed to every household in the country along with the next batch of Charters.
—London Times Literary Supplement
...Visual Revelations is the kind of book to read for fun and to discover later that you learned something....
Wainer's books are simply the most entertaining, engaging, and thought-provoking books in the area.
—Sr. VP of SPSS
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Top Customer Reviews
It seems as though Tufte's books set the standard, and Wainer acknowledges this. Many of his examples are similar to that in Tufte's book, and he covers much of the same material. There are overlaps (and when there are, Tufte's book is usually more comprehensive). But Wainer's book also covers material that Tufte does not cover well or at all.
Wainer's approach is also different. His first two long chapters are about "graphical failures" and rules for how to display data badly. These failures are very instructive and draws the reader in to try and create improvement. His next five chapters are about graphical triumphs, not as useful as the first two chapters, but still enjoyable. His chapters here are short, too short in fact, and sometimes too dense. Here I liked his discussion of Feynman diagrams as a case in how diagrams can open up understanding of complex ideas. Chapters 8-13 are probably where there is the least overlap with Tufte (such as the discussions of trilinear plots, Nigthingale rose, double Y-axis graphs, a good discussion of pie charts, and implicit graphs.) At this point, one could stop reading as the last 30 pages or so are better covered in Tufte's book.
Overall, this is a useful book, with some insights not found in Tufte. The book is easy to read and very instructive. But if you had a limited budget, I would buy Tufte's book.