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The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America

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4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,969 ratings  ·  473 reviews
With the end of the Cold War, the victory of liberal democracy was thought to be absolute. Observers declared the end of history, confident in a peaceful, globalized future. But we now know this to be premature. Authoritarianism first returned in Russia, as Putin developed a political system dedicated solely to the consolidation and exercise of power. In the last six ...more
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Tim Duggan Books
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Andrei Vylinski Ilyin was a rather obscure philosopher whose works, in fact, never reached a wider audience or attracted the attention of scholars. This limits the…moreIlyin was a rather obscure philosopher whose works, in fact, never reached a wider audience or attracted the attention of scholars. This limits the number of those who are interested in his works and could compile this entry to his far-right sympathizers, most of them Russian, and a few historians of ideas, like Snyder. As Snyder convincingly shows, Russian far-right activists hate being called fascist because they use this word exclusively to condemn whoever they happen to fight this week. No wonder that the entry about one of the important far-right Russian thinkers looks so smooth and harmless.(less)

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Michael Austin
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
The Road to Unfreedom was not the book I was expecting it to be, which is not necessarily a problem, since the thing it was is at least as good as the thing I thought it would be. What I was expecting was a sort of parallel history study of Russia, the European Union, and the United States, showing how various global trends have influenced each of these entities in similar ways. What I got was a very learned history of Modern Russia under Vladimir Putin and an clear explanation of how he has ...more
Esil
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
The Road to Unfreedom is written by Timothy Snyder, who also recently published On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. On Tyranny is short and brilliant. The Road to Unfreedom is also good, but it takes more work and concentration. But I highly recommend it to anyone trying to understand all the quickly moving pieces in Russia - US relations these days. If I had read this a few years ago, it would have sounded like the paranoid musings of a conspiracy theorist. Today, ...more
Henri
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
"All of the virtues depend upon truth, and truth depends upon them all. Final truth in this world is unattainable, but its pursuit leads the individual away from unfreedom. The temptation to believe what feels right assails us at all times from all directions. Authoritarianism begins when we can no longer tell the difference between the true and the appealing. The cynic who decides that there is no truth is the citizen who welcomes the tyrant."

Flipping brilliant. If you decide to read only one
...more
Julie
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
More information with links to my review coming soon- stay tuned!
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
This book puts together a story we have only had hints at behind events like Brexit and Trump's election. It starts with the neofascist ideology that Putin and the Russian oligarchs have adopted. it centers around the ideas of a Russian exile and fascist named Ilyin and has morphed into Russian grand strategy to destroy the west. The book is a lightning rod which shows a blow by blow account of the Russian attempts to export their authoritarian vision to other countries by using cyber warfare ...more
Jan Rice
Timothy Snyder has coined two terms to reflect political states of mind that are ahistorical. The first is inevitablilty, as in "the politics of inevitability;" the second is eternity, as in "the politics of eternity." Once defined, both will feel familiar to us.

The politics of inevitability is a childlike state in which we assume the way things are is inevitable, unchangeable, and meant to be, since we've gotten used to it and forgotten about alternatives. In the West, once the Berlin wall
...more
Bradley
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very focused investigation centered solely on Russia's more recent history since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it's becoming a pure Oligarchy, or rather: a Kleptocracy. What's more, we get some rather startling and almost unbelievable details into the nature of Putin's aim.

Let me be more clear: end aim is very clear. He's stated it about a million times. He's so confident in his power and methods that I can't see any truly viable method to stop him. And so he is open and honest about
...more
Graeme Roberts
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For the first time, The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America enabled me to see the relationship between the lies and fascism of Vladimir Putin, Russian interference in the politics of the United States and Europe, and the lies and fascism of Donald Trump. Seeing the big picture is no less depressing, but at least Timothy Snyder gives us a coherent sense of what is ailing us, and a chance to defeat these monsters. Everyone should hear his message before the United States embraces "the ...more
David
Jun 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book is astonishingly bad. Bloodlands, by this author, was a decent book. This one is confused in theory, biased in orientation, and paranoid in psychology.

Essentially, the book is a Russophobic rant, with Vladimir Putin at the center of a global web of evil, with Donald Trump at one of its outer nodes. Putin, in the authors narrative, pulls the strands connected to the Donald.

I have many quarrels with this book. I will list them until I run out of wrath and gas.

First: As a conceit to
...more
H.M. Ada
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Early on in the Mueller investigation and the TrumpRussia scandal, Steve Doocy of Fox & Friends looked into the camera and asked rhetorically, Do you even care?, seemingly asking a question, but really, telling his audience how they should think. This book explains why everyone should care about Trump-Russia.

First, it explains who Putin is, what he believes, and what he wants. Spoiler alert: Putin is not a communist holdover trying rebuild the old U.S.S.R. Rather, he is influenced by
...more
Paul
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Inheritors of an order we did not build, we are now witnesses to a decline we did not foresee.

So begins the epilogue of Timothy Snyders sobering contemporary history of the malign influence of Russia on Western democracies. The post-war order, built on free-market capitalism and democratic republicanism now seems far more fragile than it did at the turn of the century, and Snyder wrote The Road to Unfreedom in an effort to explain why.

Snyder is an insightful and enlightening historian. He builds
...more
Radiantflux
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: usa, trump, russia
41st book for 2018.

This book is a slow burn, systematically laying down the case for the rise of fascism in Russia, it's war in the Ukraine, and it's systematic attacks on the West (including Brexit), leading up to the final chapter that assesses Trump's presidency and his obvious ties to Russia.

While at times I found Synder's writing style a little irritating, I also found his ability to call a spade a spade very refreshing. The content is first rate, and this is a MUST read for anyone wanting
...more
B. Rule
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it
You can basically feel the seams in this one where Snyder decided he wasn't just writing a recent history of Ukraine and Russia, but an indictment of Russia's role in the rise of authoritarianism in the U.S. Like his shorter, pithier book "On Tyranny", Snyder often styles himself as a prophet speaking against power. Frankly, that's what he's best at doing. The parts where he speaks broadly about what authoritarianism looks like in practice, the steps it takes to get there, what institutions need ...more
Yonis Gure
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
The only good portion of this book was Snyder's breakdown of the Russian war against Ukraine. Acute, historically-grounded, elegantly written. Every single Far-Right and Far-Left talking point on Ukraine is dispelled one point at a time with such precision that I don't think it could've been bettered.

Unfortunately, everything else in the book is really not worth anyone's time. He subscribes to a Cold-War ideological framework of an evil East and a Freedom-loving West; that if it doesn't get
...more
Caren
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
I actually listened to this book, read by the author, then got a copy of the physical book, in order to return to some sections and read them thoughtfully, marking sections to which I'd like to return. With anything I read, I want to know the source, the author's creds. This author is a professor of history at Yale who has won awards for his writing. The publisher is a division of Penguin Random House, a mainstream publisher. I preface my remarks with these points because the information in the ...more
Jeremy
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most effective history books in our time rely on presenting and explicating a huge volume of data to make their case. I have to give Snyder points for taking a different approach, and writing something that is more philosophical, at times almost aphoristic.

The Road to Unfreedom purports to tell the story of how right wing ideology developed in Russia following the soviet breakup, and how Putin and his propagandists were able to weaponize and export it, first to Europe and then (most alarmingly)
...more
Faith
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
Although I relish anything that bashes Trump, and I completely believe that Russia influenced elections in the US and elsewhere, I thought that the author verged on paranoia in this book. Russia really can't be completely responsible for the current crisis of character in the US (or for Brexit for that matter). We are perfectly capable of bad behavior without any foreign intervention. I would have found this book more credible had it been more balanced. I listened to the audiobook and the author ...more
Marks54
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you get a chance to see Timothy Snyder give a talk, you should take advantage of the opportunity and go see him. He is a powerful speaker and an intense person. You need to pay attention in considering his work, but in my opinion the effort necessary to do so will be highly rewarded. Snyder gained attention for his work on mass murder in the lands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union from 1930 to 1945. He makes sharp arguments, provides lots of support for them, and follows his work out ...more
Conor Ahern
Keep making the world a shittier place, and you will ensure a constituency of angry, easily manipulable folks in perpetuity. Russia perfected the art, pivoting from failing communist state to kleptocratic oligarchy during the post-perestroika Russia by scapegoating the United States and Europe for Russia's immiseration, harkening back to a false but rosier picture of Soviet Union under Stalin, at its apogee in WWII. Russia, purveyors of a negative-sum politics in which everyone is worse off for ...more
J.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
The basic line of Russian foreign policy through 2011 was not that the European Union and the United States were threats. It was that they should cooperate with Russia, as an equal ... [but] what had been an oligarchy of contending clans in the 1990s was transformed into a kleptocracy, in which the state itself became the single oligarchical clan. Rather than monopolizing law, the Russian state under Putin monopolized corruption.
In matters of peace and war, Moscow also took actions that made it
...more
Mike
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it

I admit that at first I was a bit skeptical about the idea that the ghost of an esoteric Russian fascist (fascistic Russian esotericist?) of the Silver Age is influencing events in our world from beyond the grave. Ivan Ilyin was born in 1883, about ten years after Lenin, and in his ideological maturity- the last 30 or so years of his life, while he was living in exile from the Soviet Union, which he regarded as a Judeobolshevik imposition upon Russia- he wrote things like the world of empirical
...more
Joseph Stieb
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brand new and absolutely outstanding analysis of the new Russian menace and the authoritarian wave that is sweeping Western politics from an excellent historian. Snyder's chapters go year-by-year since Putin's return to official, permanent power in 2012, each chapter covering developments in Russia, EU, and the US in each year. The focus, however, is definitely on Russia, which Snyder portrays as in the thrall of a new fascism. He does a deep dive into the intellectual grounding of the regime, ...more
Bruce Knotts
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book must be read before its too late. Our future depends on equality, the rule of law and respect for the fact-based analysis. Read this book to understand whats happening to our country and to Europe. This book connects all the dots. Probably the most important book you can read during these dangerous times. ...more
Whitney Milam
"To experience its destruction is to see a world for the first time. Inheritors of an order we did not build, we are now witnesses to a decline we did not foresee."
Ailith Twinning
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
You know what hypothetical book I'd really love to see? One co-authored between Snyder, Stiglitz and Chomsky. A few years of them combining their perspectives and knowledge could produce something fantastic.

Meanwhile, in the real world, this is a solid book.In fact, it's easily the single best commentary on what the Russian thing means -- but just read the book, my personality will probably undermine the point.
Liviu
May 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
just propaganda and bad propaganda at that
Honouria
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read subsequent to "On Tyranny." It has been some time since my philosophy minor, but grateful for it, as the first three of six chapters have heavy philosophical underpinnings. A bit of a challenge as Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin (19th century origins), and cohorts thereafter, present an ethos fairly antithetical to the western democratic mindset. Chapters four and five demonstrate how the application of that philosophy elucidates (or is manipulated to justify) Russia's activities in the ...more
Lysergius
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Reading this book is an experience, in the sense that one can feel the scales falling away from one's eyes and all the apparently contradictory pieces of information falling into place to produce a coherent and powerfully explantatory narrative.

There is a wonderful clarity about the way in which Snyder approaches this most complex issue - modern history - the history of the last few years of the decade. Particularly impressive is his use of the terms "politics of inevitability" and "politics of
...more
Roz DeKett
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Forensically researched account of the history and recent years leading to Russia's engineering of the rise of populism in the West, the British vote to leave the EU, and the election of Donald Trump: all Russian goals, all targeted to de-stabilize America, the European Union, and democracy itself. It explains why and how people fall for huge lies; why and how Russia is running its campaign of information warfare. A staggering work that only gets more jaw-dropping as fact after fact after fact ...more
Luba
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is a must-read book about the genesis of fake news, Russian propaganda and inter-connectivity of the world. The Russias occupation of the part of Ukraine might seem marginal and obscure to the rest of the world. Yet, there is where the Russia's propaganda muscles were tested first to later be applied to the US and European elections. After learning who among US and European politicians and opinion makers are paid directly or indirectly by Kremlin, it is easier to read the news and understand ...more
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Timothy Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. He has held fellowships in Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard.

His most recent book is Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning,
...more

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“Authoritarianism begins when we can no longer tell the difference between the true and the appealing. At the same time, the cynic who decides that there is no truth at all is the citizen who welcomes the tyrant.” 9 likes
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