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

A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich By Christopher B. Krebs Cover Image
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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.

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.

Praise For…

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.
— Christopher Pelling, editor of Greek Tragedy and the Historian

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.

— Tim Rood, University of Oxford, author of American Anabasis

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393062656
ISBN-10: 0393062651
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2011
Pages: 304
Language: English