On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
Best for: People who see what is happening in the U.S. and want some quick tips on how to fight back.
In a nutshell: The subtitle says it all. Twenty lessons the guide our fight against the encroaching tyranny.
Line that sticks with me: “When exactly was the ‘again’ in the president’s slogan ‘Make America great again’? Hint: It is the same ‘again’ that we find in ‘Never again.’” (p 123)
Why I chose it: I was in a bookstore on Tuesday and saw this on a table. It looked like a book I could read quickly, and I was (and still am) really struggling with the best way for me personally to address what is happening in the U.S.
Review: Author Timothy Snyder is an expert on tyranny. His field of study is Eastern Europe history. And, according to Wikipedia, he and I went to the same school (LSE shout out!).
What I’m saying is, he seems to know what he’s talking about. And he uses his knowledge to share twenty quick tips (backed up by 1-4 pages of support) of what to look for, what to do, and how to handle ourselves as we face this administration and the current state of the nation.
A sampling of the tips: “Do not obey in advance.” “Believe in truth.” “Investigate.” “Establish a private life.” “Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.” Some of them are obvious to me ( “Be wary of paramilitaries.”); others were not as much (”Make eye contact and small talk.”). There were only a couple of times that I found myself raising my eyebrows – one when the tip seems to suggest that people who aren’t in the streets aren’t doing real work, and one that suggests that patriots agree to fight in wars. I think he believes the former; the latter may just have been the result of poor language choices.
This book doesn’t have all the answers, but it provides a good reference point for when I find myself reacting, but not sure if I want to react that way.