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On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder: Review/summary
Book cover for On Tyranny

On Tyranny

By Timothy Snyder

Length: 126 pages

Rating: 10/10

First Published: 2017

Get it: UK 🇬🇧 | US 🇺🇸

Last read: 2022

I first saw the Graphic Novel adaptation of the book on the bestsellers lists. I didn’t like the handwritten style, so I checked out the book. I can’t stress how wonderful the book is. Every non-fiction book should be like this.

”You submit to tyranny when you renounce the difference between what you want to hear and what is actually the case.”

It’s one of those books that I think everyone should read. It’s about how societies gradually fall under authoritarianism. It looks at how the citizens reacted then and tries to draws lessons from that.

Timothy Snyder is a historian of eastern Europe, and has a lecture series about Ukraine that got a million views. I didn’t know this when I bought the book.


4: Take Responsibility for the Face of the World

”In the Soviet Union under the rule of Joseph Stalin, prosperous farmers were portrayed on propaganda posters as pigs—a dehumanization that in a rural setting clearly suggests slaughter.”
Note: Orwell

5: Remember Professional Ethics

”If lawyers had followed the norm of no execution without trial,"

"Professions can create forms of ethical conversation that are impossible between a lonely individual and a distant government.”

8: Stand Out

”It is those who were considered exceptional, eccentric, or even insane in their own time — those who did not change when the world around them did — whom we remember and admire today."

"In March 1938 none of the great powers offered any resistance as Germany annexed Austria."

"[Churchill] helped the British to define themselves as a proud people who would calmly resist evil. Other politicians would have found support in British public opinion to end the war. Churchill instead resisted, inspired, and won.”

9: Be Kind to Our Language

”The classic novels of totalitarianism warned of the domination of screens, the suppression of books, the narrowing of vocabularies"

"One novel known by millions of young Americans that offers an account of tyranny and resistance is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

"Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying.”

11: Investigate

”If we are serious about seeking the facts, we can each make a small revolution in the way the internet works. If you are verifying information for yourself, you will not send on fake news to others. And then perhaps our internet traffic will cease to look like one great, bloody accident.” Note: Attribution

”Like Hitler, the president used the word lies to mean statements of fact not to his liking,"

"We find it natural that we pay for a plumber or a mechanic, but demand our news for free.” Note: And websites

12: Make Eye Contact and Small Talk

”In the most dangerous of times, those who escape and survive generally know people whom they can trust.”

14: Establish a Private Life

”What Hannah Arendt meant by totalitarianism was not an all-powerful state, but the erasure of the difference between private and public life.”

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