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Publisher's Summary

With the end of the Cold War, the victory of liberal democracy was thought to be absolute. Observers declared the end of history, confident in a peaceful, globalized future. But we now know this to be premature. Authoritarianism first returned in Russia, as Putin developed a political system dedicated solely to the consolidation and exercise of power. In the last six years, it has creeped from east to west as nationalism inflames Europe, abetted by Russian propaganda and cyberwarfare. While countries like Poland and Hungary have made hard turns toward authoritarianism, the electoral upsets of 2016 revealed the citizens of the US and UK in revolt against their countries' longstanding policies and values.

But this threat to the West also presents the opportunity to better understand the pillars of our own political order. In this forceful and unsparing work of contemporary history, Snyder goes beyond the headlines to expose the true nature of the threat to democracy. By showcasing the stark choices before us - between equality or oligarchy, individuality or totality, truth and falsehood - Snyder restores our understanding of the basis of our way of life, offering a way forward in a time of terrible uncertainty.

©2018 Timothy Snyder (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Combining topical reporting with delvings into the history of ideas and some political-philosophical musing in the author’s own voice, this relatively short book covers a vast canvas.... A roller-coaster world calls for a news editor's skill in processing facts and a philosopher's ability to dissect ideologies. Snyder has both." (The Economist)  

"The Road to Unfreedom offers a brief, potent and carefully documented history of Vladimir Putin's consolidation of power in Russia, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election." (Chicago Tribune

 "We are living in dangerous times, Timothy Snyder argues forcefully and eloquently in his new book.... To understand Putin, Snyder argues persuasively, you must understand his ideas.... The Road to Unfreedom is a good wake-up call." (The New York Times Book Review

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Fascinating Exploration of Current Events

Anyone who has been trying to make sense of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the 2016 U.S. elections, and Russian actions more generally will likely find this of interest. It describes the ideological inspiration behind Putin and his cronies and their reasoning for interfering in other countries. By combining recent history, current events, and the philosophies of several important ideological figures with his own observations from long study of Europe, Timothy Snyder has done the best job so far of making sense of these events.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A Key Understanding of Modern Politics

Would you consider the audio edition of The Road to Unfreedom to be better than the print version?

The Road to Unfreedom is a dense text, delving with deliberate action into history, philosophy, and politics. Listening can be mentally less taxing than reading.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The book gives a comprehensive understanding of political narratives, and which ones are enticing but hollow and which ones aren't sexy but enrich nations and their citizens. It made me reconsider many of my political beliefs.

Which scene was your favorite?

The division of Identity Politics vs. Prosperity Politics made me rethink how I vote.

If you could give The Road to Unfreedom a new subtitle, what would it be?

The War Between Politicians Who Talk About Cultural Identity, Vs. Politicians Who Say What Can Be Done For Those They Represent

Any additional comments?

A must-read for those who wish to be informed about modern politics.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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The definitive work on our current crisis

This text is simply excellent, and other than trouble with a few Russian names, the audiobook performance conveys the text clearly and enjoyably.
while the final quarter of the text deals with Trump in a manner that will upset his supporters, the author's analytical approach does not leave room for hand holding or false equivalency. Potential readers either want a serious scholarly treatment of the subject, with a major focus on the ideological roots of Putin's strategy and tactics at home and against Europe and the US, or they will not understand or enjoy Snyder's work.
One note of caution: this text/audiobook may be too dry/academic for some, but the level of detail reflects Snyder's training/profession, and makes his case more persuasive, if less accessable for some casual readers.
That said, I cannot recommend it more highly to anyone interested in the Russian roots of America's unfolding crisis.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The Most Important Book I've Read in Years

This book has changed my view of the current world and politics in the most important way: clarity, cogency, the importance of facts and research, and the tactics of manipulation used as psychological warfare on vulnerable uneducated human populations. America is not exceptional, America is not eternal, America is just a part of history and the sooner we focus on dealing with the realities of the present, the rule of law, social justice and governance for the benefit of all citizens and the welfare of the planet and life on it the better. The forces that work to destroy that evolution towards a higher consciousness of humanity are the real and constant threat to our potential humanity.

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Most Important and Gripping Book I Have Ever Read

If you think that America's future can only be as great as it's past then think again but only after you've read Snyder's book "The Road to Unfreedom". Because I read it, almost without stopping, I finally understand the real reason for this president's constant lying. He does not lie because he can't help himself instead he lies to help himself and his fellow oligarchs to our fortunes. Yet the more important reason to read the book is to understand what is happening to your freedom so that you will be equipped to choose the path away from unfreedom and toward the freedom our forefathers intended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Both illuminating and fascinating

The politics of eternity is a topic I had never heard of before and Timothy explained it in a way that was incredibly informative, detailed and captivating. The topic is complex and summarizing it here would be a fools errand and would leave out too much information. Are you interested in Vladimir Putin and the way he controls Russia? Are you bothered by the way Donald Trump abuses the truth to his benefit and are shocked at how effective it is? This book ties all of this and much more together in a way that is quite terrifying. We may not be as stable as we might have thought previously and it may not be as difficult as we may have thought to turn into a country similar to Russia.

The politics of inevitability versus the politics of eternity, the use and abuse of the truth, facts and emotions through social media and other ways of communication, the advantages given to people such as Trump who are so willing to lie and try to change reality in a way that suits their own interests and much more. This is just a small taste of what this book will provide in a matter of fact way that might be scary at points but is very clearly extremely important information. Overall I'm very glad the book was recommended so strongly, it goes into topics I haven't heard elsewhere in a way I never would have expected which for this general subject matter is quite impressive. 100% worth the money and time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Must read

Few books are a must read, this is one of them. I thought by the title, the book would be full of hyperbole, not that all.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Listen Well, Westerners.

The Road to Unfreedom combines political philosophy, geopolitics, history (ancient and contemporary), and current events to develop a clear-eyed view of modern Russia's desires, fears, and wars (physical and digital). Snyder uses all of this rich contextual information to develop and present a piercing model of "Inevitability" and "Eternity" Politics, which allows readers to grasp the material while deepening their understanding of geopolitical events.

Reading this book is an awakening. Western societies have slept on their laurels for decades, assuming that a democratic and capitalistic world future was inevitable. Snyder shows how we gradually became soft targets for malign influence campaigns as history slipped away from us. Synder also illustrates many startling similarities between America and Russia in 2018. To save western democracies and political institutions, Snyder urges readers to pay attention to history, everyday propaganda, world events, and the philosophical underpinnings that guide the political perceptions of our friends, enemies, and selves. He is absolutely right: we cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand any longer.

Timothy Synder is a gifted researcher, author and narrator. The Road to Unfreedom is among the most compelling nonfiction books I have personally encountered, and it's absolutely instrumental for understanding the complex relationships between Russia and western states today.

Please listen to this book. Open your ears and eyes while there remains time and dimming opportunity to reverse course.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Impressive Synthesis of our Headlines

This is a fantastic effort by Timothy Snyder. It provides an overline structure that lets the reader understand the links and common threads between so many crucial events of the last few years. The links between the demographics of eastern Ukraine and the 2016 election map in Ohio are fascinating And made clear in Snyder's well documented effort. This is much more than just "a trump hit job", it is a compelling explanation of the many disconcerting events that we are living with. In for anybody reading it with any seriousness, it must be a call to action. If not action, at least some thinking.

This is a great book and I would recommend it for anyone who is intrested in the politics of the day and the future of the nation.

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Timothy Snyder’s Mastery Continues

When I read Snyder’s “On Tyranny” my faith in the power of Democracy was reinvigorated and my hope restored. With writing that runs like water, Snyder captures what many would understand regard as a macabre subject with the brilliant hue of enlightenment. I intend on buying this book for everyone in my family.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful