On Tyranny (review)

On Tyranny
Written by Timothy Snyder
Reviewed by Forest Preston III


A few weeks back, I saw an interview of Timothy Snyder about his new book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. Snyder is a leading American historian and a professor at Yale who has published several award-winning books about the Holocaust and WWII Europe.

I have just finished reading On Tyranny, and I recommend it highly. It is a recounting of the rise of fascism in the twentieth century and a warning of the signs that fascism is once again rearing its ugly head.  Professor Snyder gives lessons on how fascism comes about, how to recognize it, and how to deal with it.

His twenty lessons 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. Remember professional ethics.
  6. Be wary of paramilitaries.
  7. Be reflective if you must be armed.
  8. Stand out.
  9. Be kind to our language.
  10. Believe 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 happens.
  19. Be a patriot.
  20. Be as courageous as you can.

This is a small, short book (126 pages). I hope the above lesson titles intrigue you enough to read it.  ~~~

Forest Preston is a member of Palo Alto Meeting (PYM).

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