On Tyranny, Expanded

 On Tyranny: Expanded Audio Edition, by Timothy Snyder

We all know I'm a Snyder fan and am trying to read/listen to as much of his output as I can.  I read the original of this book a few years ago; it's very short and an excellent book which I recommend.  After Russia's further invasion of Ukraine -- now almost a year ago -- Snyder decided to add to this small book.  This extra material is only available on the audiobook; I think he wanted to get it into the world right away.  

So after the original content, narrated several years ago in the standard professional manner, Snyder just comes in and starts talking in a slightly more personal tone.  He evidently just sat down, pounded out all his thoughts, and is now going to pour them into your ear practically without a break because this is all super-important to him.  He loves Ukraine, his dear friends are being bombed, and a bunch of them are on the front lines or suddenly displaced from their homes and lives -- or they're dead.

These twenty lessons are loosely tied to the originals; Snyder talks about how the Ukrainians are not obeying in advance, but resisting, and so on.  He also gives a lot of wonderful explanation about recent history, what Putin is doing and why, and what lessons Americans/the West can take from all this.  He points out that while we tend to think of Ukraine (if we thought of it at all before last year) as very far away and irrelevant to us, we're now pretty much neighbors with everyone, and Ukraine has already gone through all the stuff Putin is now trying to do to the whole West, especially America.  They have the experience and they can see some things that we tend to miss.  These two quotations that I put into my original On Tyranny post are even more apropos now:

To Ukrainians, Americans seemed comically slow to react to the obvious threats of cyberwar and fake news.

[On Americans' recent assumption that liberal democracy is inevitable and cannot be changed, and some critics' talk of need for a disruption]: When applied to politics, it again carries the implication that nothing can really change, that the chaos that excites us will eventually be absorbed by a self-regulating system.  The man who runs naked across a football field certainly disrupts, but he does not change the rules of the game.   The whole notion of disruption is adolescent.  It's assumed that after the teenagers make a mess, the adults will come and clean it up.  But there are no adults.  We own this mess.

This new, second section is much longer than the original very very short text.  And it's important material!  I highly recommend this to anyone willing to listen to audiobooks (I'm not an audiobook person myself but I sure made an exception in this case).  

Aside from the original print edition of On Tyranny, there is also a graphic novel edition illustrated by Nora Krug (she wrote Belonging).  Other things by Timothy Snyder that I recommend include Bloodlands, Black Earth, his recent lecture series at Yale on Ukrainian history, and his Substack.  I also recommend Anne Applebaum!  She's excellent!  And this guy!


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