Review: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great example of how to distill a lot of history and political philosophy down to a pocket primer of pragmatic advice. I would feel better if everyone I knew read this and kept it handy and then asked everyone they knew to read it too.

Each chapter title reads like a personal, political maxim.

Some lines I jotted down in the back of the book:

  • Beware the one party state.
  • Even your minor actions are a kind of vote.
  • Get outside (as in march). Nothing is real that does not end on the streets.
  • Beware the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.
  • There is no doctrine called extremism.
  • Autocratic, fascist movements come from the right wing. But the left can create a Soviet Union.

Snyder, as short as his chapters are, always ends with a compelling segue to the next chapter. The one time he could not keep it short was when he was illustrating what patriotism is not by using Trump as an example (without having to mention the tyrant by name).

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