Winner of the 2012 Christian Gauss Book Award
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 - people 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 500-year span, showing us how an ancient text rose to take its place among the most dangerous books in the world.
©2011 Christopher B. Krebs (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction.
I had great expectations about this book. This book provides the platform upon which a Nazi Germany constructed. I did find some of the Germanic history interesting -- for example there wasn't really a Germany until the late 1800's. I love history books and have read a great many. This author lacks the flair of a McCullough by an order of magnitude. Only the diehards of historians should brave the seven hour trek -- it is just soo boring and not work the misery.
I enjoyed Ashby's reading, pronunciation and enunciation.
Krebs does an amazing job of summarizing the history of Tacitus' text as well as the politics of Rome at the time. He quotes many, many sources that discuss Tacitus and the Germanic tribes and tongues- many that claim those Germanen are, or are not, related to the modern Germanic people, languages and nations.
He does a well enough job of describing the language variations and evolutions of this subject, but fails to explain why he says "They are not", "He was wrong", or "This was an error." He accuses a historical figure of "unspoken chagrin" but never hints at who noticed the chagrin. In a nutshell, I cannot tell if he is putting words in other peoples' mouths.
For me, yes, as it is so much more tiring for me to read than to listen. But I stopped often to make notes so I can refer back to certain things, and that took time.
I particularly appreciated his correct pronunciation of foreign words (Italia and German in particular). So often names are mangled. This book is something of a challenge as it contains, besides quite a number of proper names, phrases in Latin and German. The reading is generally clear and moves along, which suffices to give it 4 stars; correct pronunciation of foreign words adds a star.
The book is a fascinating tour across time that traces the fortunes of one book, shedding light on divers epochs along the way. Highly recommended for those who have a real interest in history.
1. Topic is well researched
2. Stylistically impeccable
3. Witty quips pop up unexpectedly but appropriately
4. Narrated beautifully with nary a mispronunciation
5. If you're interested in European history of the 20th century, read this book
Fascinating weave through history. The professor delivers depth and details that keep the telling intriguing, it helps to be up on your Roman, European, Judeo-Christian history and some situational subtleties of the Catholic Church and Luther .... or at least I used my tourist level knowledge to fill in a bit and give a picture filled backdrop to the telling.
The takeaway: The power of the pen is shadowed when compared to the liberal interpretation to support ideological narrative.
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