Yale University Library News

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

March 17, 2017

All are welcome to join us on April 3 at 4:30 pm in the SML Lecture Hall for the latest talk in our Sterling Memorial Library book talk series, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, by Timothy Snyder, the Richard Levin Professor of History at Yale University.

The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, but our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

In just a matter of weeks, the United States has seen unprecedented changes to the fabric of its national and global identity. In On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Timothy Snyder offers today’s reader a guide to identifying and understanding the parallels that exist between our current reality and the reality faced by Europeans of the twentieth century. Through the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, democracies across Europe would yield to fascism, Nazism, and communism. Americans have always held tight to the belief that such regime change can’t happen here—but that is a dangerous illusion. Having spent his career examining the tragedies and atrocities of the twentieth century, Snyder has studied the ways in which shifts and changes, both large and small, have led to the failure of democratic principles and ideals. As he writes, “history does not repeat, but it does instruct”—and we must heed its warnings. But Snyder goes further, using history to show us how to effectively resist and bring about change.

On Tyranny offers invaluable ideas for how we can preserve our freedoms in the uncertain years to come through a series of twenty lessons.

Coffee and cookies will be offered at 4:00 pm before the presentation.