On Tyranny

On Tyranny

Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century

Book - 2017
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In previous books, Holocaust historian Timothy Snyder dissected the events and values that enabled the rise of Hitler and Stalin and the execution of their catastrophic policies. With Twenty Lessons, Snyder draws from the darkest hours of the twentieth century to provide hope for the twenty-first. As he writes, "Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism and communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience."
Publisher: New York : Tim Duggan Books, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780804190114
0804190119
Branch Call Number: 321.9/SNYDER
Characteristics: 126 pages ; 16 cm

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StoicBookaholic
Nov 25, 2020

I am wondering why such an important topic is delivered in the form of tiniest book size ever? Just to be published and go “under the radar”? Anyhow, you need to start with this one and continue broadening your views with many others.... The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt for example....

Lesson number one: Do not obey in advance (anticipatory obedience is a political tragedy)
Lesson number five: Remember professional ethics (do not confuse ethics with the emotions of the moment)
Lesson number eight: Stand out (It’s easy to follow along...)
Lesson number nine: Be kind to our language (Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does....)
Lesson number seventeen: Listen for dangerous words (...by manufacturing a general conviction that the present moment is exceptional, and then transforming that state of exception into a permanent emergency....)

p
Peaches_31
Oct 13, 2020

Excellent book about what is happening in America, and the similarities of this and previious problems and times in other countries. SHould really make you stop and think. Would have been good to read the last 4 years, but better late than never.

j
j2kansascity
Jul 30, 2020

Fantastic. A must-read before the next election.

f
FloraWest
Jul 26, 2020

The best time to read this was about 3 years ago but the second best time is right now. Succinct and accessible summation by historian (specializing in Central and Eastern Europe) of the steps we are taking (and the many we have taken) towards fascism. And what you can do to help stop it.

1
11lbh09
Jul 26, 2020

Succinct thoughts on how to recognize and resist ideas, words, and actions that threaten our democracy. Numerous references to patterns and practices of totalitarianism in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and other countries. The author is a chaired professor in history at Yale University. I now have my own copy of this book at my bedside. I am rereading a short excerpt each day, along with a selection from my book(s) of daily devotions.

j
janetletty
Feb 23, 2020

Rachael interview

KatieD_KCMO Jan 06, 2020

These are lessons from the 20th century, not comparisons based on political ideology. The U.S. is not perfect, it never was and never will be, we have to be vigilant. "Does the history of tyranny apply to the United States? Certainly the early Americans who spoke of 'eternal vigilance' would have thought so. The logic of the system they devised was to mitigate the consequences of our real imperfections, not to celebrate our imaginary perfection."

I believe this book is more relevant now, in January 2020, than ever. I know some are of the opinion that it is an overreaction to compare our current nationalist Western leaders to Hitler, but I think what Snyder is trying to show us is how quickly, what we assume to be a perfect and ever-lasting democracy, can devolve into an authoritarian led government and that we shouldn't take anything for granted.

These are lessons from the 20th century, not comparisons based on political ideology. The argument that these lessons are irrelevant because China, North Korea, or Russia are worse, is a red herring. The point is these countries are worse off because they failed to learn lessons from our collective past. It can happen there and it did. It can happen here, in the US, and we shouldn't ignore the warning signs. The U.S. is not perfect, it never was and never will be, we have to be vigilant. "Does the history of tyranny apply to the United States? Certainly the early Americans who spoke of 'eternal vigilance' would have thought so. The logic of the system they devised was to mitigate the consequences of our real imperfections, not to celebrate our imaginary perfection."

AndreaG_KCMO Jan 06, 2020

A quick, pamphlet-style read with abundant historical examples and supplemental essays.

j
jessicamay21
Nov 14, 2019

I have to say that I was disappointed by this book after reading all of the 5 star reviews.

Timothy Snyder is obviously a very intelligent man, but it is also very obvious as to how much his political ideology and the media influence his thought and this book.

He did make a few good points (which is why he got the extra half of a star), but most of it was just making references to horrors of Nazi Germany and then comparing them to Trump's campaign rhetoric.
For example: [Pertaining to speaking the truth] "The Second mode is shamanistic incantation. As Klemperer noted, the fascist style depends upon 'endless repetition' designed to make the fictional plausible and the criminal desirable. the systematic use of nicknames such as 'Lyin' Ted' and Crooked Hillary' displaces certain character traits that might more appropriately have been affixed to the president himself." (pg. 66)

The amount of times that he refers to Trump as Hitler is ridiculous. Conflating Trump's mean remarks and lack of civil discourse to Hitler's actual regime is abhorrent and reduces the actual atrocities' severity by doing so.

Do you all want to know how to know that we're all still free? How we're not currently living under "tyrant Trump"? It's because we're all still having political opposition (and a lot of it) from both sides. Trump isn't ordering journalists to be killed or is making them disappear for their disagreement and criticism.

If you want to read a book on actual tyranny and not what is effectively a "Trump is Hitler" article, then please read and learn about the Soviet Union, North Korea, China, and any other Communistic/Socialistic regime. Heck, if you want to SEE what their doing, just look at what the Chinese government is currently doing to the protesters in Hong Kong right now.

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mamabadger56
Apr 18, 2018

Since in the age of the internet we are all publishers, each of us bears some private responsibility for the public's sense of truth.

m
mamabadger56
Apr 18, 2018

Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.

m
mamabadger56
Apr 18, 2018

People who assure you that you can only gain security at the price of liberty usually want to deny you both.

m
mamabadger56
Apr 18, 2018

Our appetite for the secret, thought [political writer Hannah] Arendt, is dangerously political. Totalitarianism removes the difference between private and public not just to make individuals unfree, but also to draw the whole society away from normal politics and toward conspiracy theories. Rather than defining facts or generating interpretations, we are seduced by the notion of hidden realities and dark conspiracies that explain everything.

m
mamabadger56
Apr 18, 2018

Protest can be organized through social media, but nothing is real that does not end on the streets. If tyrants feel no consequences for their actions in the three-dimensional world, nothing will change.

m
mamabadger56
Apr 18, 2018

Post-truth is pre-fascism.

m
mamabadger56
Apr 18, 2018

"Professions can create forms of ethical conversation that are impossible between a lonely individual and a distant government. [...] Professional ethics must guide us precisely when we are told that the situation is exceptional. Then there is no such thing as 'just following orders'."

s
shayshortt
Jul 21, 2017

The mistake is to assume that rulers who come to power through institutions cannot change or destroy those very institutions.

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MichaelECasey Apr 25, 2017

MichaelECasey thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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shayshortt
Jul 21, 2017

In On Tyranny, Yale History professor Timothy Snyder offers twenty principles for resisting authoritarian government, drawing cautionary examples from twentieth century European history. It grew out of a Facebook post Snyder made in the aftermath of America’s 2016 election. In it, he attempts to bring his wide knowledge of European history, and the collapse of democracies, to bear on the current political moment.

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