Book Review: On Tyranny (Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century)

So, I believe this book by Timothy SnyderOn Tyranny — should be required reading for everyone in America. Sure, that statement shows my political bias against the Trump Administration and its visible objective to slowly dismantle all institutions in order to build more power into the president’s hands … so what? I’m biased.

Snyder’s small book (in size and in length) is a powerhouse of ideas, drawing both on the history of the rise of Fascists, Nazis and Communists to remind us that American institutions, and Democracy itself, is always more fragile that at first appears. The “twenty lessons”  in On Tyranny are pivot points for individuals to make small decisions that have larger ramifications of the world.

What I pulled from this book, which I will be re-reading again and then sending off with my son to college with a “read this book!” message, is a reminder that people are what allow institutions to crumble and fall, through small actions that don’t seem consequential in the moment. Tyrants take advantage of those moments (or invent moments, such as “terrorist” emergencies that allow a usurping of the rule of law to change the nature of the state.)

Those of us who would think that the American institutions are strong enough to withstand the moment we are in still need to remain vigilant and active. Change happens suddenly. Elections have consequences.

But the people, and the community you are part of, have a voice, and power, too. Make sure we use it for the greater good of all. Read On Tyranny  and think.

Peace (let it be),


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