Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny is a deceptively small book. You will be surprised to get it in your hand. But really, it doesn’t need to be all that much larger. It shouldn’t take most people more than an hour to read. But in that time, if you are an American who has been paying attention since November 2016’s election, you will be shaken to your core. In short discussions written in language simple enough for even the porridge-headed voters of today, Snyder has explained what could be coming as a result of a minority making a stupid, selfish, bigotry-driven and wrong-headed choice at the polls, and what, if anything, we can do about it.
On Tyranny is part warning from history, part meditation for today. Its concision suits people for whom the subtleties of politics and history might be too much like doing homework. As we have found, not a lot of people read anymore, and fewer still read with depth and comprehension of complex issues. This book is the antidote to that; it is short enough for even the non-reader, and general enough for the non-expert. However, if you are a reader, or if you haven’t stopped learning despite having left school, On Tyranny is an excellent introduction to the issues at hand. Although it is mainly geared toward the unique and perilous state of America in 2017, readers abroad may find it helpful to understand these issues, especially in light of other obvious attempts by the hostile forces of the Kremlin to undermine Western solidarity, whether in the case of the folly of the Brexit vote, the Dutch elections (at which they fortunately failed), or the upcoming French and German elections. If hacking and misinformation are the new version of “war continued by other means,” then there can be no doubt that such a war is under way. Knowing what to watch for next can only serve the cause of liberal democracy and all that it promises.