Book Report: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Nancy Flynn Apostrophe Blog Archive, Book Report, History Lessons, Political News, Wisdom

The Apostrophe Blog

Musings on Writing and Life.

Photo by Mark Nozell.

It seems fitting to post this nod to an excellent primer about tyranny today, February 29, 2024, after the clearly compromised majority of our current Supreme Court decided yesterday to hear a treasonous criminal’s plea for immunity from any and all crimes committed when he was the (accidental) President of the United States. Back in 2016, I stumbled upon an op-ed by a Yale University professor named Timothy Snyder in the Dallas News—yes, the Dallas that is in crazy Texas. It was a list cataloguing what all of us could do to save American from tyranny. This wisdom later appeared in his 2017 book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century and became an instant bestseller that now feels like a classic work. Of course, I purchased a copy and have reread several times since. An illustrated graphic edition with artwork by Nora Krug was published in 2021.

The lessons in brief—

            1. Do not obey in advance.

            2. Defend an institution.

            3. Recall professional ethics.

            4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.

            5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.

            6. Be kind to our language.

            7. Stand out.

            8. Believe in truth.

            9. Investigate.

            10. Practice corporeal politics.

            11. Make eye contact and small talk.

            12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.

            13. Hinder the one-party state.

            14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.

            15. Establish a private life.

            16. Learn from others in other countries.

            17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.

            18. Be reflective if you must be armed.

            19. Be as courageous as you can.

            20. Be a patriot.

Nancy Flynn
Follow me
Latest posts by Nancy Flynn (see all)