A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich

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W. W. Norton & Company, May 2, 2011 - History - 303 pages

The riveting story of the Germania and its incarnations and exploitations through the ages.

The pope wanted it, Montesquieu used it, and the Nazis pilfered an Italian noble's villa to get it: the Germania, by the Roman historian Tacitus, took on a life of its own as both an object and an ideology. When Tacitus wrote a not-very-flattering little book about the ancient Germans in 98 CE, at the height of the Roman Empire, he could not have foreseen that the Nazis would extol it as "a bible," nor that Heinrich Himmler, the engineer of the Holocaust, would vow to resurrect Germany on its grounds. But the Germania inspired—and polarized—readers long before the rise of the Third Reich. In this elegant and captivating history, Christopher B. Krebs, a professor of classics at Harvard University, traces the wide-ranging influence of the Germania over a five-hundred-year span, showing us how an ancient text rose to take its place among the most dangerous books in the world.

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A MOST DANGEROUS BOOK: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich

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On the scholarly trail of a first-century CE Latin text that became the bible of the Nazi party.Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus' short early work Germania, written just after the reign of the tyrant ... Read full review

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User Review  - Sullywriter - LibraryThing

A fascinating look at the enormous influence a single book had on the shaping of national identity and culture. Read full review


introduction The Portentous Past
epilogue Another Reading Another Book

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About the author (2011)

Christopher B. Krebs, a classics professor at Harvard University, has published widely on the Roman historians and their afterlives. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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