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

Overview

“A model of popular intellectual history. . . . In every way, ?A Most Dangerous Book is a most brilliant achievement.”—Washington Post


When the Roman historian Tacitus wrote the Germania, a none-too-flattering little book about the ancient Germans, he could not have foreseen that centuries later the Nazis would extol it as “a bible” and vow to resurrect Germany on its grounds. But the Germania inspired—and polarized—readers long before the rise of the Third Reich. In this ...
See more details below
A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price
(Save 35%)$16.95 List Price

Overview

“A model of popular intellectual history. . . . In every way, ?A Most Dangerous Book is a most brilliant achievement.”—Washington Post


When the Roman historian Tacitus wrote the Germania, a none-too-flattering little book about the ancient Germans, he could not have foreseen that centuries later the Nazis would extol it as “a bible” and 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, revealing how an ancient text rose to take its place among the most dangerous books in the world.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Cullen Murphy
…fascinating…Krebs…lays out the recovery of Germania, in 1455, like a detective story…he has a light touch and a dry sense of humor. And despite the title of his book, he does not hold Germania responsible for acts committed in its name. "Tacitus did not write a most dangerous book," he concludes. "His readers made it so."
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Harvard classics professor Krebs writes a scholarly but lucid account of the abuse of history. Written in 98 C.E. by the Roman official Tacitus, About the Origin and Mores of the Germanic Peoples was lost for centuries but resurfaced around 1500 as Germans were growing resentful of foreign domination—in this case from the Catholic Church in Rome. The rediscovered book launched a primitivist myth that captivated admirers over the next 500 years, from Martin Luther to Heinrich Himmler, who loved its portrayal of ancient Germans as freedom-loving warriors, uncultured but honorable, in contrast to decadent Romans. In fact, Tacitus probably never visited Germany, Krebs notes. Rather, using books and travelers' reports, he wrote for a Roman audience who shared his romantic view of northern barbarians. Enthusiastic German readers, culminating in the Nazis, ignored Tacitus's disparaging comments, misread passages to confirm their prejudices, and proclaimed that the ancient historian confirmed their national superiority. This is an inventive analysis of, and warning against, an irresistible human yearning to find written proof of one's ideology. Illus. (May)
Library Journal
In 98 C.E., Roman senator Cornelius Tacitus (56–117 C.E.) wrote the short Germania purporting to describe the fierce tribes beyond the Rhine who resisted Roman conquest. Nobody knows where Tacitus got his information or if he ever visited German territory. In the turmoil following the collapse of the Roman Empire, the book disappeared until 15th-century humanists turned up a single surviving manuscript in a monastery in what is now central Germany. From the moment of the book's discovery, it became the founding document of a hoped-for German nation. Krebs (classics, Harvard; contributor, The Cambridge Companion to Tacitus) shows an impressive mastery of five centuries of theories about Germanness that used and misused Tacitus's account of a brave and unlettered fighting people. This book's title suggests the world might have been better off if Germania had never turned up, but the text reveals that Krebs himself doesn't feel Tacitus's book is "dangerous" or the urtext of Nazi ideology or even an ethnography, but a stereotypical Roman view of the outsider. VERDICT Whoever pimped out this worthy academic monograph about the creation of a German past as if it were The Raiders of the Lost Ark did Krebs no favors. Recommended for serious readers on the merits of its scholarly contents.—Stewart Desmond, New York
Anthony Everitt
“A razor-sharp, eminently readable reminder of the potency of bad ideas. Christopher Krebs shows how intellectuals through the ages used and abused a Latin classic, Tacitus's Germania, and tells the unnerving story of its final transformation into a Nazi 'bible'. Fascinating stuff.”
Tim Rood
“A most exciting book! In Krebs’ hands, the story of the Germania manuscript becomes part thriller, part detective story.... A must-read for anyone interested in the pernicious power of the ideas of antiquity—and a timely reminder of the responsibilities placed on readers as well as writers.”
Christopher Pelling
“A fascinating story of how a book could be used and—especially—abused over two thousand years, as enemies saw it as presenting Germans as brutish and barbarian, while German nationalistic pride extracted a quite different message of a nation that was simple,
virtuous, and pure.... beautifully told by
Christopher Krebs.”
New York Times
“Fascinating. . . . [Krebs] has a light touch and a dry sense of humor.”
Slate
“Clever, learned. . . . [Krebs] synthesizes a great deal of classical scholarship and intellectual history into a concise, accessible story.”
Wall Street Journal
“It is an extraordinary tale, and Mr. Krebs . . . tells it with great verve and charm.”
London Review of Books
“A dramatic detective story.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393062960
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/27/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 377,852
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

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

Table of Contents

Illustrations 9

Acknowledgments 11

Introduction The Portentous Past 15

1 The Roman Conquest of the Germanic Myth 29

2 Survival and Rescue 56

3 The Birth of the German Ancestors 81

4 Formative Years 105

5 Heroes' Songs 129

6 The Volk of Free-Spirited Northerners 153

7 White Blood 182

8 A Bible for National Socialists 214

Epilogue Another Reading, Another Book 245

Notes 251

Index 287

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 19, 2014

    I do not know whether this book's writing was inspired by the su

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    From Tacitus to the Third Riech

    As an avid history fan, this book delivers a wonderful adventure of "history" through history. Definatly recommended for any history fan.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)