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Publisher's Summary

Number one New York Times Best seller

A historian of fascism offers a guide for surviving and resisting America's turn towards authoritarianism.

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 20th 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.

"Mr. Snyder is a rising public intellectual unafraid to make bold connections between past and present." (The New York Times)

©2017 Timothy Snyder (P)2017 Random House Audio

What listeners say about On Tyranny

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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History does not repeat, but it does instruct.

Dr. Snyder, the Levin professor of history at Yale, delivers a short and powerful primer on resisting fascism/tyranny in the 21st Century, using the rise of fascism in 20th Century as a guide. In easily digestible chapters (twenty, obviously) Snyder seeks to use lessons from the rise of Fascism (and Totalitarianism) to assist readers in this current moment globally. We are seeing the rise of Nationalism. It isn't meant to be comprehensive, but more of a hornbook for resisting movements away from democracy and towards fascism. It is also meant to highlight early signs of tyranny in government and media.

I enjoyed all the chapters, and like in a nice restaurant with small portions, my major complaint was I was still hungry when I finished. While there are 20 ideas/lessons/chapter, the book really has a couple of themes. One is community: defend and participate in it. Another is language and truth: seek it, pay for it, respect it. Another is taking a risk: stand up, or at a minimum, do not surrender to the crowds or lazy thinking. Finally, and this makes sense, one is historical: understand that history is not inevitable or mythical. We need to understand things DO happen and we CAN impact the future. The individual chapters (small lessons) included in the book are:

1. Do not obey in advance.
2. Defend institutions.
3. Beware the one-party state.
4. Take responsibility for the face of the world.
5. Remeber professional ethics
6. Be wary of paramilitaries.
7. Be reflective if you must be armed.
8. Stand out.
9. Be kind ot our language.
10. Belive in truth.
11. Investigate.
12. Make eye contact and small talk.
13. Practice corporeal politics.
14. Establish a private life.
15. Contribute to good causes.
16. Learn from peers in other countries.
17. Listen for dangerous words.
18. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
19. Be a patriot.
20. Be as courageous as you can.

78 people found this helpful

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Important read/listen

The author is a little monotone so be sure you have no distractions around you when listening. I couldn't listen while driving either and found walking to be the best. The meaning in his words and ideas are powerful, terrifying, and utterly important to understand. Please read or listen to this book!

37 people found this helpful

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Required reading

Mr. Snyder presents a succinct guide to recognizing the signs of tyrannical government and acting to counter its influences. This work is unfortunately now required reading for all citizens that hope to continue to live in a functioning democratic society.

The book lays out, using examples drawn especially from Central and Eastern European history, the tactics that allowed and then fueled the rise of tyrannical regimes. In concrete steps, the author demonstrates how our predecessors failed to stop or succeeded in prevent dictatorial states from consolidating power. It was easy to listen to and left this writer feeling empowered to act!

43 people found this helpful

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Thoughtful actions for our current political troubles

An excellent book. All citizens everywhere should read it and think about how we all are responsible for the current and future situations of our countries. It points out important things we can learn from the rise of fascism and nazism in the past and how we can act now to try to prevent them from taking hold now and doing away with our democracy. Very worth reading, thinking about, discussing and acting on.

13 people found this helpful

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Wwg1wga

propaganda! he is doing what he warns against. Projection in it's purest form. Enjoy the show!

12 people found this helpful

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This is trash; don’t waste your time.

This is ignorant drivel is designed to further distance yourself from Trump, his presidency and his policies. Not that you need to support Trump, but this garbage can be found for free on any TV station you prefer to watch or newspaper-websites you prefer to read. If you hate him, you agree already; if you don’t, you probably won’t even after listening to this.

25 people found this helpful

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upcoming tyranny?

Reminder of political tricks and changes that can lead to a tyranny. point: beware and do something. do not be a bystander.

10 people found this helpful

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Impressively concise and well organized

Snyder does a great job of connecting 20th century precedents to 2016 tendencies/possibilities in US politics without jargon or excessive detail (if you're a history junkie, you'll have to read another of his works to get the detail-heavy approach). A very accessable text, and well narrated by the author.

10 people found this helpful

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Haven't given up on the democratic experiment?

Activists, patriots, small-d democrats looking for a manual: here's the best guide I've found to the resistance.

9 people found this helpful

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Good Points Not Applied Broadly Enough

He gave excellent advice on our obligations as persons to assert responsibility for our communities through taking individual responsibility for maintaining them. Where I think he goes off the rails is in his obvious dislike of President Trump, which causes him to lose perspective on how his presidency is the result of half of the public "asserting responsibility" for a vision of the United States that he, and presumably he agreed that President Obama was doing everything right, disagrees with.

On one hand he calls for closer affiliations with those he disagrees with, and though those who voted for Trump obviously disagree with him, his anger at Trump's crass behavior causes him to disregard coercive behavior during the previous administration that Trump's election was a reaction to. How could he "reach across the aisle" without at least acknowledging that there's fault on all sides to be had here?

So though on one hand he doesn't say "we have a problem with conservatives", and though he brings up the failures of Communism and especially Nazism, it didn't seem to me that he was able to draw a line between the causes of failure in these national movements and the behaviors of progressives in our day. Progressives flourished under Obama, and while one one side he'd presumably see the policies passed as ideal and worthy of support, how is it that the Executive or Judicial Branches bypassing the Legislature is not a form of Tyranny? Isn't it tyranny that shuts down debate in universities and in the public forum, and isn't that as much a problem of the left as it is of the right? You wouldn't know it by reading this book.

Though he did not state this, and he may even disagree, I did appreciate getting his perspective, which I thought was a valuable one. All 20 lessons are important, and worth incorporating into our civic lives. Where I disagree with him is how he applies it, and with his belief that the "free press" is to be entrusted with getting us our information about what's true and what is not. He doesn't go deep enough into how matters of "public values" are negotiated, and how the press expresses certain values as "given" when they omit a side of the argument and advocate for another. I for one do not trust the press, nor university professors (he is one of them) to be as impartial as I perceive them to have been decades ago. For these reasons, I'd have found this book to be even better if he was able to spread the criticism across party lines.

7 people found this helpful