A Most Dan­ger­ous Book. Tac­i­tus’s Ger­ma­nia from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich

Christo­pher Krebs
  • From the Publisher
April 23, 2012
When the his­to­ri­an Tac­i­tus wrote a not-too-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. Yet the Ger­ma­nia had inspired and polar­ized read­ers long before the rise of the Third Reich. After its mys­te­ri­ous redis­cov­ery in the 15th cen­tu­ry, Euro­pean intel­lec­tu­als found there­in the Ger­man past: sim­ple, hero­ic, moral, and pure. Re-read and re-inter­pret­ed by sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions of writ­ers, inside and out­side Ger­many, the Ger­ma­nia pro­filed the Aryan race and ulti­mate­ly fueled the Nazis’ Ger­man­ic Rev­o­lu­tion. A Most Dan­ger­ous Book traces the wide-rang­ing influ­ence of Tacitus’s book­let over a five-hun­dred-year span and its muta­tion from moth-bit­ten man­u­script to ide­o­log­i­cal cornerstone.

Discussion Questions