On Tyranny

Timothy Snyder |  Nonfiction


This tiny book is big on making one think.  It is only 126 small pages.  The author, Timothy Snyder, is a Professor of History at Yale University and has written numerous historical books.  On Tyranny is 20 lessons.  In each lesson, 1-9 pages long, he writes of a historical event — tyrannical events primarily from WWII — and then ties it to a similar behavior, cultural element, or effect under our current administration.  Sometimes he caused me to gasp with the starkness of the similarities.

This is not a book to be read cover to cover in one sitting.  To allow and encourage its full impact, read one lesson at a time and let that lesson percolate for a few hours or days.  Think it over, muse on it, wonder about it, and notice how the parallels resonate (or not) with you. 

My one regret in reading this book is that I read it alone.  Snyder's lessons call to be read and discussed. It feels like On Tyranny is meant to be read with your life partner or your business partner or your book group or with friends.  It compels the reader to chew ... and you will want to hear the views of others in your life who you respect.  Truth be told, I didn’t comprehend all of it either, and it would be helpful to hear other’s understandings and interpretations.

For $7.99 US, On Tyranny could be that one last stocking stuffer for the thoughtful person on your list.


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