• On Tyranny

  • Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
  • By: Timothy Snyder
  • Narrated by: Timothy Snyder
  • Length: 1 hr and 47 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (5,711 ratings)

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On Tyranny

By: Timothy Snyder
Narrated by: Timothy Snyder
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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

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What listeners say about On Tyranny

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

94 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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!

47 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!

45 people found this helpful

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A haiku of history

Timothy Snyder's book is one of the most extraordinary works I have ever encountered. Full of passion, poetry, and--above all--clear thinking--it makes the strongest possible case for understanding history as a means of interpreting and addressing the disordered world of now.

30 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.

29 people found this helpful

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Must Read

A critical review of our current situation juxtaposed with history of tyranny. We ignore it at our peril.

24 people found this helpful

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Looking for clues to Why Trump? This is the answer.

I can't imagine a more concise, readable, and important history lesson documenting a century of how nationalist governments came to power. The book culminates in the Putin connection and makes a powerful case for engagement and action. The under two hours it takes to read this offers critical clarity regarding how we got here and how to navigate the here and now.

20 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.

17 people found this helpful

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Uses information loosely to link Trump to Tyranny

Gets two stars only because it provides interesting historical information. I am not a Trump fan, but the author's attempt at finding similarities between his actions and statements and fascist regimes in the 20th century is very forced. On ocasiones that author falls into the same disturbing traits that he sets out to criticize. While the title clearly states a focus on the 20th century, the author mainly focuses on WWII and Eastern Europe and misses an opportunity to link his lessons to other parts of the world and other historical events. This seems to me more like a an unedited draft sent to an editor than a finished product

17 people found this helpful

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required reading in today's world.

When debating how to move forward, it's important to remember the lessons of history. Let's put the work in.

15 people found this helpful