On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Timothy Snyder, 2017

In this slim volume, Snyder, professor of history at Yale and the author of seminal histories of WWII and the Holocaust, cautions Americans against the creeping threat of authoritarian rule by Trump and his cronies. He doesn’t pull punches, not referring to Trump by name, but repeatedly using the phrase “the president’ (note the small case ‘p’) as he cites lessons from the rise of fascism and communism in the 20th C. His advice is as follows: 1)Do not obey in advance. 2)Defend institutions 3)Beware the one-party state 4)Take responsibility for the face of the world 5)Remember professional ethics 6)Be wary of paramilitaries 7)Be reflective if you must be armed 8)Stand out 9)Be kind to our language 10)Believe in truth 11)Investigate 12) Make eye contact and small talk 13)Practice corporeal politics 14)Establish a private life 15)Contribute to good causes 16)Learn from peers in other countries 17) Listen for dangerous words 18) Be calm when the unthinkable arrives 19) Be a patriot 20)Be as courageous as you can. The scary thing is that Snyder is not some alarmist or liberal cry-baby but a trained historian who has studied the failure of democracies in the 1930’s in Europe and who clearly sees trends in the US that are alarming. We would be wise to take his counsel.