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

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

by Christopher B. Krebs


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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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393062656
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/02/2011
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About 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.

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

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