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Whatever Happened to Tanganyika?: The Place Names That History Left Behind [Hardcover]

Alexander McCall Smith , Harry Campbell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

1 Sep 2007
Do you still find yourself referring to Zaire or Czechoslovakia, or wondering whether it should be Moldavia or Moldova, Burma or Myanmar? Dozens of countries, cities and counties have changed their identity over the years. Some of the names we remember from our schooldays or from news headlines just a few years ago are now gone. For example, whatever happened to Tanganyika? This new book by Harry Campbell is a fascinating trawl through the place names that history left behind: the stories about where they came from, what happened to them and what they were replaced by. The stories behind the place names include: Biafra, British Heligoland, Ceylon, Flintshire, Friendly Isles, Islands of Samson and the Ducks, Leningrad, Little Britain, Macedonia, Muscat, Pleasant Island, Stalingrad, Tanganyika, West Britain, Yugoslavia and Zaire. From the major political movements (the Leningrads and Stalingrads of the Socialist Soviet Republic) to enticing destinations (Pleasant Islands, the Friendly Isles), 'Whatever Happened to Tanganyika?' reveals how the atlas of yesteryear became the maps of today.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Aeronautical Books; First edition edition (1 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190603205X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906032050
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 13.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 653,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"In this marvellous and intriguing book, Harry Campbell has created a whole
new discipline - one which we may perhaps call nostalgic geography" -- Alexander McCall Smith

About the Author

Harry Campbell is a freelance lexicographer, who used to work for Larousse and Harper Collins. He describes himself as an 'armchair traveller and avid collector of maps'. Harry lives in Glasgow.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and informative 3 Nov 2007
By jdoc
This is a delightful book, one that manages to impart geographical information and make you smile (or laugh) at the same time. Campbell tells us about favourite placenames such as Ceylon and Rangoon, but also about less familiar places such as Henpeck and Pleasant Island. What makes this book a little special, however, is the combination of very interesting facts expressed with gentle understated humour. This is learning worn with a smile. I loved every page.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal Christmas present! 21 Nov 2007
What a delightful book! It has solved the problem of 'What can I give my intelligent and well-read friends that they won't already know?'

Harry Campbell's account of 'the place names that history left behind' manages to be entertaining, informative and highly readable all at once. It is full of surprises and challenges to the reader. Where is Illyria? Is there such a place as Pepys Island? Central Region? And what about San Seriffe? Keep your wits about you when you dip into this fascinating collection of little known geographical facts or you might miss a gem!

This little book is beautifully produced, in a style befitting the contents. The dust jacket attracts the eye, while the hard cover speaks of serious reading. Add to that a foreword by Alexander McCall Smith, who clearly enjoys it as much as I do. It deserves to become well-known.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely delicious, a delight. 24 Dec 2007
I had to limit myself to one chapter a night, and wanted more when I finished it. What a light touch Harry Campbell has, making gentle fun of the serious business of names and their significance. Wars have been launched over names and their ownership, elections have been lost, and identities discarded. Every page has his gentle, whimsical humour, rendering clear the intricacies of the past naming of places, never becoming heavy, always bringing a little smile. If you like place, if an atlas is your natural territory, this is the book for you.
Kenneth Thompson, Tour Leader, Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's in a name? 19 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Harry Campbell's `Whatever Happened to Tanganyika?' is a curious, original and enjoyable exploration of place names that have been discarded by history, for reasons as wide ranging as political neutrality, to identities of regional expressions, and spelling simplifications. The book deals with a number of places, giving a few pages to the majority; and unearths a number of fascinating facts, from the origination of York's Roman name, `Ebraum', to the little-known potted history of the former `Pepys Island', and the commodity of bird-droppings which have helped give Nauru (formerly `Pleasant Island'), moderate riches. The book is full of these little gems, and whilst the vast majority of readers will enjoy these factual anedcotes and succinct, often surprisingly interesting mini-histories of the places in question; the book is probably more aimed at those of us old enough to remember the names of Zaire, Biafra and Senegambia being part of common international parlance, and even world news.

The book's one real downside, is that Campbell's style is a bit inconsistent. The book, whilst undeniably enjoyable, moves at times rather awkwardly, between gentle humour, and the grim realities of some of the area's histories. Equally, Campbell's tone is sometimes a little self-righteous, and often too polemic to make the text flow as easily as it should do; especially on the contentious issue of British colonisation. Despite this, `Whatever Happened to Tanganyika?' is well worth a read; and filled with nit-bits of trivia you're unlikely to find anywhere else, as well as a wider exploration of what makes the name of a region so hotly contested, and often subject to numerous changes; as well as a few surprising findings on the etymologies of various place-names. For those with a love of geography, place-history, linguistics, or all three; Harry Campbell's book provides a refreshing, and rather unique take on the aforementioned issues.
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