Genre: Non-fiction, Political
“Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.”
― Timothy Snyder,
An historian of fascism offers a guide for surviving and resisting America’s turn towards authoritarianism.
On November 9th, millions of Americans woke up to the impossible: the election of Donald Trump as president. Against all predictions, one of the most-disliked presidential candidates in history had swept the electoral college, elevating a man with open contempt for democratic norms and institutions to the height of power.
Timothy Snyder is one of the most celebrated historians of the Holocaust. In his books Bloodlands and Black Earth, he has carefully dissected the events and values that enabled the rise of Hitler and Stalin and the execution of their catastrophic policies. With Twenty Lessons, Snyder draws from the darkest hours of the twentieth century to provide hope for the twenty-first. As he writes, “Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism and communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.”
Twenty Lessons 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.
This is a book that I believe everyone needs to read regardless of political affiliation and thoughts on current government officials. So many of the points that Snyder makes are so relevant to the current state of our society and makes some great comparisons to history. It was a super quick read that I was able to read in one plane ride.
Snyder goes through 20 lessons and things we as Americans should do in order to save our society from repeating history and letting the US fall to a tyrant. I will say that Snyder is a little biased, but makes relative arguments from past situations in history mainly around communism and racist leaders in Europe and Russia. He also references some great literature such as 1984 by George Orwell and Fahrenheit 451by Ray Bradbury.
I do believe that sometimes history repeats itself because we don’t learn, change or notice certain things. Snyder explains how we as citizens have so much power even though it sometimes doesn’t seem like it. It is by manipulation, persuasion and charisma that political leaders take ultimate control. I think it is important for people to educate themselves on situations and political points before make decisions and getting into arguments with others. It is ultimately up to us, the people to make sure our country doesn’t fall to a tyrant and destroy itself.