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Session:         Page of 1029

B.C.S.
Interview #16
Interviewee: Bennett Cerf
Interviewer: Robbin Hawkins
New York City
January 23, 1968

Q:

What's the Tacitus story?

Cerf:

The Modern Library ranges over a wide field as you know. We have a lot of translations from the Latin and Greek. We decided one time some years ago, when our office was up on Fifty-seventh Street, that we'd have a one-volume Tacitus in the series. Whenever we decided on a scholarly book of this kind, I would get advice from Harvard and Columbia authorities on a choice of editors. The consensus of opinion was that the best man to do Tacitus was Dr. Moses Hadas at Columbia--an excellent professor and a very nice gentleman. I called him up at Columbia and told him what I wanted. He made a date to come down to see me at my office on Fifty-seventh Street on the fifth floor.

According to the practice I learned in the School of Journalism, I bone up on something when it becomes necessary. You don't have to keep everything in the back of your head. The sum total I knew about Tacitus was that there once had been such a man. But just before Moses Hadas came down, I carefully read the whole piece about him in the Encyclopedia Britannica. So when the good professor arrived, I was ready for him.

We readily agreed on the fee he was to get for the



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