cover image On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Timothy Snyder and Nora Krug. Ten Speed, $24 (128p) ISBN 978-1-984860-39-2

NBCC Award–winning artist Krug (Belonging) adapts Snyder’s 2017 bestseller into a graphic edition, with intricate, eerie collages that interpret historically informed “lessons” offered in response to the implicit “What can I do?” that followed the 2016 presidential election. Looking at Europe in the years leading up to and after the world wars, and the rise of Russian oligarchy in the 1990s, Snyder notes that “both fascism and communism were responses to globalization.” His advice occasionally reads as wishfully simplistic (do things you enjoy because it’s part of creating a civil society), but his analysis is prescient (“We are seduced by the notion of hidden realities and dark conspiracies that explain everything”). Krug manipulates photos, postcards, and commercial artwork to create an uncanny-valley effect alongside elegant pencil and watercolor work. To Snyder’s point that lazy media coverage removes context, a picture of a kitten is cut from a circus background and pasted on a postcard of a bleeding, dead deer. Snyder effectively argues that tyrannical regimes exploit fear and relies on complacency—with updated references to Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. Among the concluding images are photos of the Statue of Liberty under construction: large and delicate, built and maintained only by collective work. Cautioning against the “politics of inevitability,” this gorgeously illuminated edition is as hopeful as it is ominous. (Oct.)