Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A MOST DANGEROUS BOOK by Christopher Krebs


Originally I signed this book from the library while researching the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages. As this book is based upon the Roman historian Tacticus' observation of the Germanic hordes that had taken over Europe as Rome declined, I had hoped it would prove useful to my research.

Then, as I started reading, I wondered if it would provide insight into the German psyche, especially during the late 1800s and early 1900s, prior to and including Hitler's rise to power. While I found the book a very interesting and fascinating read, I also must note that Krebs' premise, though well researched, is one man's opinion.

The German descendant in me found the book enlightening, helping me to understand the nationalistic spirit I had witnessed while stationed in Germany during the nineteen eighties. One of the key facts to be noted is that German nationalism, the cement that holds Germany together, did not truly exist prior to the late 1800s.

Prior to that, what we now know as Germany was a loose confederation of states. In 1871, under the leadership of Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, these states united to become the German Empire. There's a vast amount of history here that I will leave out, but the bottom line is that the depression that followed Germany's defeat at the end of World War I was devastating not only financially, but also psychologically to the country.

Prior to Hitler's rise to power, the citizens of Germany were looking for someone, anyone, to help them. No doubt Germany as a whole was also looking to regain that pride in their country, that nationalistic spirit that unified them under Bismarck. The Nazi party gave them that and according to Christopher Krebs, the manipulation of the book, Germania by the Roman historian Cornelius Tacticus, was instrumental in helping to regain and renew that sense of German pride.

I learned a great deal by reading A Most Dangerous Book and encourage everyone with an interest in understanding history and society to read the English translation of Tacticus' Germania before reading this book. You will find both a very enlightening experience.

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