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Publisher's Summary

History does not repeat, but it does instruct.

In the 20th century, European democracies collapsed into fascism, Nazism and communism. These were movements in which a leader or a party claimed to give voice to the people, promised to protect them from global existential threats, and rejected reason in favour of myth. European history shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary people can find themselves in unimaginable circumstances. History can familiarise, and it can warn. Today we are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to totalitarianism in the 20th century. But when the political order seems imperilled, our advantage is that we can learn from their experience to resist the advance of tyranny. Now is a good time to do so.

©2017 Timothy Snyder (P)2017 Random House

What listeners say about On Tyranny

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  • Sam
  • 23-08-2017

The most important book I've ever read.

I beg you to read this. A hugely important book that is short, easily digestible, with every sentence hitting a home run.

1 person found this helpful

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A must listen for under 30's

Well done Timothy Snyder (again) - this book is arguably the most important bit of literature in our current times. Nobody has so eloquently summarised the perils of the current world in a way that is simple and direct. The book provides practical and critical advice - to promote democracy and to be attuned to creeping perils of fascism and tyranny. To all the disenfranchised young people of the world - please listen to this book. I am going to buy hard copies to give away.

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Unsure of the point of this book

This book seemed to be a collection of rambling thoughts inspired by a fear that the world was coming to get the author. The constant and forced quoting of philosophers, citing of references and use of unnecessary metaphor made it hard to enjoy.

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piercing, insightful and concise

this essay-like commentary was incisive and clear, and provides great historical context to current events.

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Excellent historical overview in today's context

Each and every lesson in this book is a prophecy where the world is heading. Very clear ideas with very accurate historical linkage

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Excellent - no background knowledge needed

As someone with a newfound interest in global politics I found this to be such a great read, particularly because it didn't get bogged down in specific historic events. It didn't require the reader to have any real existing in depth knowledge of history but rather focussed more on the bigger picture patterns and ideas.

I'd recommend it strongly, and point out that he has a very interesting interview with Sam Harris on the Waking Up podcast that is very suitable 'extra listening' for this audiobook.

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  • Rob
  • 01-06-2017

Current, concise and powerful

I can't think of a single more beneficial activity to spend the same amount of time on than reading this book, and then reading it again. The challenge ahead for the struggle against tyranny has become crystal clear for this reader. The author's historical lens provides a compelling comparison to contemporary events. I'll be purchasing a hard copy and fresh highlighter pen.

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Insultingly Biased.

Snyder uses history to make a point about some things which seemed more likely representative of Hillary Clinton than of Trump himself. He uses the basic that Trump was all evil and hence is able to control the line of thinking that the claims he wants us to use. It provokes thought, however, it's biased.

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  • Philip I. Kyson
  • 04-06-2017

outstanding

A timely reminder of how to avoid the tyranny that is now at the front door of most peoples of the world. Knocking on all its guises.

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  • John Pope
  • 29-07-2020

Concise, illuminating and epic.

Timothy Snyder’s grasp of political history, and his ability to apply its lessons to contemporary events, is nothing short of ingenious. If you genuinely want to understand where we are today and where tomorrow might take us, then you MUST also understand where we have come from first to adequately appreciate the context of our current situation. This short book is required reading for anyone who wants to maintain western democratic values in the face of the growing trend towards authoritarian ‘sadopopulism’ that is currently espoused by Putin’s oligarchy/kleptocracy, Steve Bannon’s nationalist populism or Donald Trump’s cult of personality - which are all essentially slightly unique variations of the same dark and twisted ideology. Timothy Snyder has given 21st century liberal democracy the biggest wake-up call it could possibly get; now it’s time for all of us who care about our future to answer his clarion call. Thanks to Snyder, I know I will. And one day hopefully have a chance to buy him a beer - along with his next book. Onwards to ‘The Road of Unfreedom’.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-04-2017

Great and currently important

Loved it enough that I listened through twice in a few days! I'm English and feel quite strongly that young people in Europe and America need to know more history to enable us to maintain our progressive cultures, otherwise dictators may usurp power in a way we currently feel impossible having mentally consigned fascism to the past.

Well worth a listen, and has a recommended reading list in one chapter, so might be worth doing further research.

Well delivered by the author with no production errors!

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  • Mabbers
  • 05-09-2019

A quick read to change how you see things

Short, snappy and made me realise that things are worse than I had previously thought. However, it does give practical advice so it is also optimistic. Everyone should read/listen to On Tyranny.

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  • Gita G.
  • 21-03-2019

Important reading

Very thought provoking listen. Well read. Great anti-complacency brain food. Wake up and think. Highly recommend.

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  • Jeremy from Preston UK
  • 28-04-2018

Why was I so slow to find this excellent manifesto and warning

Having listened to the audio version narrated by the author, I feel powerfully better informed and motivated to join a modern day version of The International Brigade “No passaran!”

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  • abdullahi mohamud
  • 28-03-2017

Essential reading for our current age

An excellent, compact analysis of the lurch towards fascism in the West and what ordinary people should be doing to resist this tide. The lessons are familiar to anyone who has read any of the classic works on totalitarianism but Snyder introduces modern examples such as the Russian war against Ukraine and its attempts to destabilise Western Europe through disinformation and promoting right wing Islamophobes. Best lesson? Get off the Internet! Read a book and actually spend time talking to people outside of your bubble.

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  • bimble
  • 10-01-2021

Every American and European Should Read This

Concise and relevant. May help save democracy from the rapidly growing menace. Having watched helpless at the foolish fiction of Brexit, I now live in dread of American fascism.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-12-2020

A ‘brief lessons learned’ of the mistakes of the previous century

A great short read, Snyder could have made this infinitely long but captures the lessons in concise, takeaway points with pieces of history from Nazism to the Bolsheviks. Definitely worth a read. A great follow up book is 21 lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari which will have you thinking on similar planes.

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  • Annie
  • 07-07-2020

Must Read for today's problems

Great Narration. I did agree with a lot but not all. Even so, it made me think outside the box.

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  • Shaikho
  • 23-06-2020

too short

i wanted more to be honest with you. i think i should have realised sooner it only goes on for a few hrs.

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