Sunday 22 November 2009

“A real gem”

“It’s a great feeling to stumble upon a real gem. While browsing through a London bookshop last summer, it was chance that my eyes fell on a slim book, Whatever happened to Tanganyika? It turned out to be [a] quirky page-turner on what its author¹ called “nostalgic geography” — an A-Z of long-forgotten names of places and countries that interest a handful of dotty stamp collectors today. Yet, behind the trivia about Bechuanaland, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and why national borders in Africa are often straight lines and right angles, there was a larger story: the tale of venerable statesmen meeting in Berlin, Versailles and Yalta to divide the world into colonies, protectorates and spheres of influence. ” (Swapan Dasgupta, Times of India)

¹ Actually no, for the record that was the coinage of Alexander McCall Smith, who wrote the foreword

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