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
3 Reviews

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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User Review  - gayla.bassham - LibraryThing

Informative and well-written, but it felt a bit padded -- I think it might have made a better Kindle Single than a book. Worth reading if you are interested in Germany under Hitler or in intellectual history. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JBD1 - LibraryThing

An excellent treatment of the use and abuse of Tacitus' Germania from the time of its composition through the Nazi era. Krebs ably recounts the various ways the text was shaped, adapted, and ... 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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