“If nothing is true…”: Review of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century”

I am a great admirer of fellow historian and blogger Padre Steve, who tackles some of the hardest moral, political and historical issues out there. This week he did a review of a new book by Yale history professor Timothy Snyder, with some lessons for the present drawn from the tumultuous and bloody history of the past century. I think I’m going to get this book and read it for myself because it sounds really important, but in the meantime check out Padre Steve’s very interesting review. Sobering thoughts for our time in the age of Donald Trump.

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, 128 pages, Tim Duggan Books, March 2017

Timothy Snyder is the Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. Among his publications are several award-winning books, all of which have been translated: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (2008); Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, Snyder is also the co-editor of Wall Around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in Europe and North America (2001) and Stalin and Europe: Terror, War, Domination (2013). He helped Tony Judt to compose a thematic history of political ideas and intellectuals in politics, Thinking the Twentieth Century (2012). He is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and sits on the advisory councils of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research and other organizations.

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today a short review of a very timely new book. Dr. Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.

The book is a must read for anyone concerned with the direction that the United States and Western Europe are heading at this time. If we have an expert in understanding tyranny today it is Dr. Snyder. His research and writing in that field, highlighted by his books and publications on the history of Germany and Eastern Europe should be read in order to grasp the full implications of totalitarianism.

This book is timely and concise. It easily can be read in one sitting, but you will want to go back and read it again and again as his salient points need to be thought about, digested, and taken for action, not only in public but in our private lives.

Snyder’s premise is that Americans are no wiser than the peoples of Europe in the 1920s and 1930s in their response and acceptance of totalitarian movements. He asserts that we must grapple with history to understand what is going on and to warn us that temptation “to think our democratic heritage automatically protects us from threats,” is a “misguided reflex.”

In the twenty short chapters of the book…

Full Article: “If nothing is true…” A Review of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” by Timothy Snyder



  1. Hi, I’m curious how he would view the sabotage both parties wreak on grass roots energy. The DNC, allegedly, stole 13 primaries from Sanders during this cycle. The RNC, allegedly, stole numerous primaries from Ron Paul in 2012. This is why I have so little respect for either political marketing “brands” in the age of Trump. I think balkanization happens most rapidly in eras where the people cannot expect their govt to be held to the same ethical standards that they observe. They retreat to the familiar IMO. Thanks for post.

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