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
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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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introduction The Portentous Past
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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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