I don't read as many books as I would like to anymore so when I do, I like to make them count. Ditto for the recommendations.
The book I am recommending here is On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder. It's available in two editions. I went for the illustrated graphic edition because that's me and I just think it's very cool. The illustrations were done by Nora Krug.
But what about the substance of the book? I will let a couple of blurbs on the back cover do the description:
A more concise, profound, or essential book on the subject does not exist. Snyder's masterwork is a stunning reminder of the myriad, insidious forms oppression takes... On Tyranny is a bellwether for what we must be awake to, and fight against.
- J.J. Abrams, filmmaker
Timothy Snyder is brilliant. On Tyranny is a must read, a clear-eyed guidebook for anyone seeking to learn from history to help us understand the present. It is a manual for how to protect and preserve Democracy... filling us with the urgent imperative: act now, before it is too late.
- Ken Burns, filmmaker
On Tyranny is divided into 20 chapters. To give you a quick encapsulation, I will quote from some of them. See below.
From Chapter One:
Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts this way is teaching power what it can do.
From Chapter Three:
The parties that remade states and repressed rivals were not omnipotent from the start. They exploited a historic moment to make political life impossible for their opponents... Vote in local and state elections while you can.
From Chapter Four:
The symbols of today enable the reality of tomorrow. Notice the swastika and the other signs of hate. Do not look away, and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
From Chapter Five:
Authoritarians need obedient civil servants, and concentration camp directors seek businessmen interested in cheap labor.
From Chapter Six:
When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.
From Chapter Ten:
To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
I hope I have provided enough in the quotes above for you to be intrigued. Whether or not we are too far down the road, On Tyranny is a map of a way out. It's a powerful book, especially in the context of the new laws that Republican state legislatures across the country have been putting in place this year in their grand plan to move beyond just voter suppression and be able to negate the results of future elections by simply throwing out the votes cast for their opponents. Get this book... while it's still available.