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Former Hamburg resident publishes book

Tomek Jankoski is pictured with his father, Thomas Johnson, at Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo during a signing for “Eastern Europe!”

HAMBURG — When former Hamburg resident Thomas Johnson Jr. turned 18 years old he filed paperwork and had his name legally changed to Tomek Jankowski to embrace his Polish heritage. Currently a resident of southern New Hampshire, he published a history book that overviews the eastern region of Europe.

For his book, titled “Eastern Europe!” the lengthy sub-title explains exactly what the book is about.

“It’s everything you need to know about the history and more of the region that shaped our world and still does.”

He works as an analyst in the consulting world and for his job has published reports that range approximately 200 pages. This is Jankowski’s first personal publication.

“I’ve always had an interest in both history and Eastern Europe,” he said.

His family immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century. When he learned that his ancestral relative had his name changed in order to anglicize it during immigration, he made the decision to legally change his name.

At 18 years old, he said he stopped into a small lawyers office located on Union Street in Hamburg and left with an authentic representation of his ethnicity.

During college he spent five years in Hungary and Poland, but during his time there the education system changed and he said it “became impractical for me to get a degree there.”

Jankowski returned to Buffalo in the mid 1990s and received his bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in anthropology from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

With 10 years in the academic world and 15 years in the corporate world, he currently studies “both consulting firms and the companies that use consulting services, and I try to determine what the consulting firms are doing right and screwing up.”

This book, however, he said is his passion.

“It’s basically an introduction to Eastern Europe,” Jankowski said. “A region few people really know or understand well.”

People that may find this book of interest include business people looking to invest in the region, those seeking more information on their ancestors or who want an overview of what’s happening in the Ukraine, according to the author.

The book’s content is a basic introductory guide that contextualizes the history and shows the interconnections of various countries.

The description reads “Even those knowledgeable about Western Europe often see Eastern Europe as terra incognita, with a sign on the border declaring ‘Here be monsters.’ This book is a gateway to understanding both what unites and separates Eastern Europeans from their Western brethren, and how this vital region has been shaped by, but has also left its mark on, Western Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.”

He said that although the book is more than 600 pages long, a common review that he has been hearing is that, “It’s just plain fun to read.”

A mile wide and an inch deep, Jankoski said that, “This book will give you the basic review about everything.” From languages to geography and religions to economies, it has light coverage of various topics.

It is currently being used for undergraduate and graduate level collegiate courses and according to the author he has received positive feedback from university historians.

“I never wrote this for financial reasons,” Jankowski added. “The greatest reward has just been hearing [feedback] from the common people.”

An additional incentive is the homemade pierogi recipe, provided by his wife, that can be found at the back of the book.

In addition to a recent book signing at the Talking Leaves Books, located on Main Street in Buffalo, Jankowski was asked to present his publication at the Harvard Business School, in addition to other local New England events.

Books are available for purchase at Talking Leaves, Barnes & Noble© and

For more information about the book, visit

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