Review by Choice Review
The Book of Trees is a welcome addition to the rapidly growing collection of books dealing with how one visualizes information. Lima, whose credits include the excellent Visual Complexity (2011; VisualComplexity.com) explores a particular visual trope--the metaphor of branching trees--through eight centuries as a way to display logical classes and subunits of information. The book includes a heavy (perhaps too heavy) dose of pre-Gutenberg manuscript illustration. It also is extremely detailed in showing recent digital trees of various kinds. Many of these no longer look very much like trees, and require computer programs to unpack the massive data streams. However, these detailed kinds of diagrams are often quite stunning and surprising. In comparison to the very early manuscripts and the very recent digital work discussed, The Book of Trees is relatively thin on the period between 1700 and 2000. However, this is not a serious problem. This reviewer knows of no other source that presents such detail on one genus of information design. The book's illustrations are very well reproduced, the paper is of high quality, and the binding is Smyth sewn. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. S. Skaggs University of Louisville
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
"The veneration of trees, known as dendrology," states Lima, "often is expressed by the axis mundi (world axis), world tree, or arbor vitae (tree of life). These motifs, common in mythology and folklore from around the world, have held cultural and religious significance for social groups through history-and indeed still do." This genre-bending collection of tree maps, "an extended introduction" to designer and researcher Lima's previous book Visual Complexity, demonstrates the usefulness of branching and rooting images to visualize and absorb complex information and the painstakingly beautiful delineations of cosmologies, genealogies, and taxonomies that generations of artist/scientists have been moved to create. Most remarkably, the book also shows the ancient lineage of the navigational and visualization tools that pervade our digital lives today. Juxtaposing such diverse manifestations as 16th-century illumination, a Tibetan thanka, and an equally exquisite 1855 New York and Erie Railroad organizational chart, or the branching of a 1060 biblical genealogy with a 2006 website graph, Lima demonstrates that "the work of these ancient visualization pioneers, in their use of the tree metaphor, epitomizes the same curiosity, drive, and ambition guiding most contemporary projects." Sure to appeal to a diverse group of readers, the book beautifully combines art and science, as well as ancient and contemporary worldviews. 135 color, 60 b&w illus. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved