I’ve previously mentioned Edward Tufte and his citation of Charles’ Minard’s stunning graphic depiction of the destruction of Napoleon’s army after its invasion of Russia. And also previously mentioned is the fabulous web site Strange Maps Now they’ve come together. There’s also a short article in the Economist on the subject of great graphics.
Here’s Minard’s work. You can get an enlargement at the Economist link. This size doesn't do it justice but for those who don't want to chase the link, all you need to know is that the tan chunk represents the army heading into Russia; the black represents the crushed and dying army on its return to France.