On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Tyranny: cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others; arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority. In this small pocket-sized book, Mr. Snyder, a European historian, describes the fall from democracy in Europe in the 1920s and ‘30s and ‘40s. Soon fascism, Nazism, communism and totalitarianism were the rule. He asks the reader to consider history when one’s own political order seems imperiled. In twenty short chapters, the author addresses instances occurring today in America such as bullying, attacking free speech and the press, interference with democratic elections, lying officials, cover-ups by the government, and much more. He offers suggestions for individuals to combat attempts at control. Citizens need to read and study and think and speak out. Support service organizations with donations or by volunteering time. Subscribe to reputable publications. Run for office. Be heard. And, yes, even march. This little gem of a book speaks to all Americans who value democracy.

— Sandy


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “bracing” (Vox) guide for surviving and resisting America’s turn towards authoritarianism, from “a rising public intellectual unafraid to make bold connections between past and present” (The New York Times)

“Timothy Snyder reasons with unparalleled clarity, throwing the past and future into sharp relief. He has written the rare kind of book that can be read in one sitting but will keep you coming back to help regain your bearings.”—Masha Gessen

The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

On Tyranny is a call to arms and a guide to resistance, with invaluable ideas for how we can preserve our freedoms in the uncertain years to come.

About the Author

Timothy Snyder is the Levin Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin and Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. Snyder is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and a permanent fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.

Praise For…

A Washington Post Notable Book

“We are rapidly ripening for fascism. This American writer leaves us with no illusions about ourselves.”—Svetlana Alexievich, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

“Timothy Snyder reasons with unparalleled clarity, throwing the past and future into sharp relief. He has written the rare kind of book that can be read in one sitting but will keep you coming back to help regain your bearings.”—Masha Gessen

“Please read this book. So smart, so timely.”—George Saunders

“Easily the most compelling volume among the early resistance literature. . . . A slim book that fits alongside your pocket Constitution and feels only slightly less vital. . . . Clarifying and unnerving. . . . A memorable work that is grounded in history yet imbued with the fierce urgency of what now.”—Carlos Lozada, The Washington Post
“Snyder knows this subject cold. . . . It is impossible to read aphorisms like ‘post-truth is pre-fascism’ and not feel a small chill about the current state of the Republic. . . . Approach this short book the same you would a medical pamphlet warning about an infectious disease. Read it carefully and be on the lookout for symptoms.”—Daniel W. Drezner, The New York Times Book Review

“As Timothy Snyder explains in his fine and frightening On Tyranny, a minority party now has near-total power and is therefore understandably frightened of awakening the actual will of the people.”—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

“Snyder is superbly positioned to bring historical thinking to bear on the current political scene. . . . These unpretentious words remind us that political resistance isn’t a matter of action-movie heroics, but starts from a willingness to break from social expectations.” —Jeet Heer, The New Republic

“The perfect clear-eyed antidote to Trump’s deliberate philistinism. . . . These 128 pages are a brief primer in every important thing we might have learned from the history of the last century, and all that we appear to have forgotten.”—Tim Adams, The Guardian

On Tyranny demands to be read.”The Forward

“The manifesto we need. . . . Snyder detects dangerous trends in American politics that may be less visible to most citizens who cannot believe that our country, with its system of checks and balances, could succumb to illiberalism or authoritarianism.”—Darryl Holter, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Bracing . . . On Tyranny is a call to action. . . . A brisk read packed with lucid prose.”Vox
Product Details
ISBN: 9780804190114
ISBN-10: 0804190119
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: February 28th, 2017
Pages: 128
Language: English