Tim Blanning

Teutonic Troubles

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

By

W W Norton 303pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Not many foreign sobriquets sound better in English than in their original language. One of them is Herman the German, which is certainly more catchy than Hermann der Cherusker. Leader of the Cherusci, a Germanic tribe, he lived from 17 BC to AD 21, and in AD 9 inflicted a crushing defeat on a Roman army led by Publius Quinctilius Varus at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Although next to nothing is known about him, he was to enjoy colossal posthumous fame as a symbol of resistance to imperialism. Mythmaker-in-chief was the Roman politician and historian Tacitus, who hailed him as ‘Germany’s liberator’, a mighty hero who had successfully challenged the Roman Empire at the peak of its power.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Although he travels through time and space to find the best produce, his choices, delightfully, are not obvious.'… ,
    • RT : I regularly make purchases based on - it’s excellent.,
    • RT : I wrote about Yoko Ogawa's dreamlike, allegorical novel The Memory Police, newly published in English in a translat… ,
    • 'At this frankly apocalyptic moment for indigenous rights in Brazil, John Hemming’s "People of the Rainforest" is a… ,
    • 'I was dumbfounded by the view of the Berlin Wall from the eastern side. It seemed inconceivable that in under thre… ,
    • RT : Danger for ‘local’ staff, access in exchange for silence (and logos) - all sounds familiar in this fascinating look… ,
    • 'He has long been eclipsed by Vermeer, though his interiors are arguably more ambitious.' David Gelber on the Dutc… ,