A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reichby Christopher B. Krebs
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.
virtuous, and pure.... beautifully told by
The New York Times
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
Christopher B. Krebs is a classics professor at Harvard University whose academic publications include extensive work on the ancient historians and a recent contribution to The Cambridge Companion to Tacitus. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
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I do not know whether this book's writing was inspired by the success of the far superior "Swerve", which detailed the rediscovery of the last, lost copy of the Epicurean saga. Perhaps the author already had written his own book and it was only the success of "Swerve" that convinced a publisher to print this pale imitation. Regardless, this book is annoyingly redundant and skips past what could be the most interesting aspects of its history in thrall to demonstrate the author's meticulous research. I could have done less with mentioning every person to lay hands on Tacitus' Germanicus and more fleshing out of particular characters involved in its history, such as the humanistic papal secretary who rediscovered it (who also plays a pivotal and much more engagingly told part in the "Swerve") or even the Brothers Grimm. I love history, mysteries, and books so the premise of this book immediately grabbed my attention. Unfortunately it failed to live up to my expectations.I'm not convinced that Tacitus' tract was a most dangerous book, but this book is certainly a most boring one.
As an avid history fan, this book delivers a wonderful adventure of "history" through history. Definatly recommended for any history fan.