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On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the…

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017)

by Timothy Snyder

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    The King's Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells (Sandwich76)
    Sandwich76: A fantasy novel about the slippery slope into tyranny.

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Timothy Snyder is an internationally-recognised expert on tyranny. His previous books have included studies of both right-wing and left-wing tyrannical regimes, focussing on Stalinism and Nazism. So when he writes a book that is, at its core, about Donald Trump, it is time to worry. "Post-truth is pre-fascism," he writes, in one of many passages that seem to cast the US as a society in a pre-fascist stage. Most of the 20 "lessons" are quite good, though some are banal (give money to good causes), but the main lesson seems to be this: study history. He's right. ( )
  ericlee | Oct 20, 2017 |
I mostly found this depressing and a retread of advice I've already heard and have been taking since November (such as: read and financially support print journalism; have a valid passport; disengage from the internet more often; read "slow" texts, that is things that take time to absorb like books and long-form journalism; seek out and listen to the experiences and opinions of people from other countries; be critical and wary of alarmist language from "leaders"; speak up; support charities; support the institutions you value). It's incredibly important stuff, but I also wish there had been more to it, more specific advice and more (any) references* to other works of history or political science to back up Snyder's facts and to direct one to further reading. After talking to LW3, who reacted much more favorably to the book than I did, I'm willing to concede that I'm probably asking the book to do things it wasn't intended to do. For many Snyder's book will probably work just as it is meant to and will be a welcome source of advice. For me, it woke up the rattlers in my stomach without making me feel like there was much I could do about it. YMMV.

*That is, citations. He does reference other works. ( )
  lycomayflower | Sep 29, 2017 |
We can not assume that democracy will survive in America or that the system of checks and balances created by our Constitution will save us from threats from both citizens determined to tear down the system and foreign nations determined to destabilize it. This book is an introduction to both the threats and possible defenses. Personally, I am not hopeful that anything will save us from ignorance, stupidity and the worst characteristics of ourselves. ( )
  fhudnell | Sep 28, 2017 |
A pithy little volume of advice on how, maybe, to avoid the descent into darkness. From "Do Not Obey in Advance" to "Be as Courageous as You Can", Snyder offers simple, practical observations on what we all can and must do to prevent tyranny from sneaking in and becoming the norm. It should come as no surprise that he advocates being careful with language, responsible with facts and vigilant about your rights and privacy. Everyone ought to carry a copy of this in their back pocket. ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Sep 26, 2017 |
Reading Timothy Snyder's "On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century" was definitely a treat. Although the author very obviously seems to skew left in his contemporary political opinion, I believe that Snyder still does a good job a playing fair when referring to the failed governments seen in the 20th Century, and, quite frankly, him leaning left does not bother me. After starting the essay, I assumed that some of the "lessons" that I would be taught about would be pretty self-evident, and, to be honest, most of them were, but I soon discovered that Snyder's ability to articulate what each lesson meant and how that would be applicable today was what was keeping my head in the book. Chapter titles such as "Beware the One Party State" seem to not require much explanation, but the explanation that Snyder gives, along with his offhand historical references, is amazingly thought provoking for such a small read. Very often did I find myself grabbing my notebook and feeling compelled to jot information down because it was so relevant to me. ( )
  JacksonMinaj | Sep 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
As social and political winds change, librarians can find themselves in a precarious position depending on the nature of this change. Professional librarians adhere, at least in theory, to the ALA Code of Ethics—a document that outlines our general philosophies on access and censorship with regard to library users. While these guidelines are general, they provide a reasonable framework for handling challenges we are likely to face in the normal service of our jobs. At politically fraught times, however, these guidelines serve as a critical backbone for the ethical practice of our profession. As an example, the passing of the wide-sweeping Patriot Act following the September 11 terrorist attacks created direct practical and ethical dilemmas for librarians across the county by requiring compliance with investigators’ requests for protected documents such as patron borrowing records [Full text of review available through C&RL]
Snyder knows this subject cold...

For such a small book, Snyder invests “On Tyranny” with considerable heft...

Of course, just as I was pondering whether “On Tyranny” exaggerates, Trump tweeted that the press is the enemy of the American people. That sounds awfully pre-fascist to me. So approach this short book the same way you would a medical pamphlet warning about an infectious disease. Read it carefully and be on the lookout for symptoms.
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In politics, being deceived is no excuse. -- Leszek Kolakowski
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History does not repeat, but it does instruct.
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Book description
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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804190119, Paperback)

"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

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 19 Feb 2017 11:32:24 -0500)

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