Timothy Snyder has been studying tyranny and its effects for decades. His two books Bloodlands and Black Earth are landmarks in describing the ways tyrannies transformed decent human beings into murderous monsters. Guess what? He doesn’t like what he’s seeing. The assault on facts, the racist nationalism, the lack of any moral compass may seem new to us, but to Snyder they’re unsettling déjà vu.
On Tyranny is Snyder’s fierce response. In 20 (very) short “lessons,” Snyder draws crucial historical parallels between America 2017 and tyrannies from Nazi Germany to Putin’s Russia. In the process he also lays out actions large and small that citizens might take to resist the current regime. And then there are the examples of Snyder’s heroes: Hannah Arendt, Solidarity, Vaclav Havel, Victor Klemperer. Concise (120 pages), lucid, full of meaningful anecdotes and actionable aphorisms, On Tyranny feels like the work Timothy Snyder has been inadvertently preparing for his entire career. This is what a public intellectual of the resistance looks like.