The United Republic of Tanzania is a rare phenomenon in Africa, the result of a merger between the former British colony of Tanganyika and the island republic of Zanzibar. While there has been and still are tensions, this has held together, perhaps because the country has been ruled by a dominant party ever since independence. It enjoyed a special aura under its first president, Julius Nyerere, who spoke glowingly of an African socialism, which did not quite prosper as hoped, and a democracy, which is admittedly better than elsewhere but not quite what it might be. But the party is still there and Tanzania is doing as well as most and better than some.
Still, while Tanzania is not as popular as before, it remains an important state and is worth knowing better. Given the shortage of literature on the country, it is fortunate that one can fall back on this, now second edition of the Historical Dictionary of Tanzania. It includes information, in the dictionary section, on life before the colonial powers arrived, what Germany and Britain did during their tenure, and what has happened since independence in 1961. This is provided in xxx concise entries. The chronology traces the history, pre-colonial, colonial, and independent, going year by year. And the introduction provides an overview. Certainly not to be missed is the amazingly large bibliography.
THOMAS P. OFCANSKY has held a number of academic and government positions, most recently with the Bureau of Intelligence and Research Africa Division at the U.S. Department of State. In this and other postings he has visited the region frequently. He is also the co-author of the Historical Dictionary of Kenya and the Historical Dictionary of Ethiopia.
RODGER YEAGER is a professor of political science and African history at West Virginia University. He has published extensively on public policy problems and the prospects of eastern Africa. Along with numerous articles, he has published Tanzania: An African Experiment.