A landmark work of contemporary history and a wake-up call that aims to restore our understanding of the basis of our way of life, from the author of international bestseller On Tyranny.
The past is another country, the old saying goes. The same might be said of the future. But which country? For Europeans and Americans today, the answer is Russia.
Today's Russia is an oligarchy propped up by illusions and repression. But it also represents the fulfilment of tendencies already present in the West. And if Moscow's drive to dissolve Western states and values succeeds, this could become our reality too.
In this visionary work of contemporary history, Timothy Snyder shows how Russia works within the West to destroy the West; by supporting the far right in Europe, invading Ukraine in 2014, and waging a cyberwar during the 2016 presidential campaign and the EU referendum. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the creation of Donald Trump, an American failure deployed as a Russian weapon.
But this threat presents an opportunity to better understand the pillars of our freedoms, confront our own complacency and seek renewal. History never ends, and this new challenge forces us to face the choices that will determine the future: equality or oligarchy, individualism or totalitarianism, truth or lies.
The Road to Unfreedom helps us to see our world as if for the first time. It is necessary reading for any citizen of a democracy.
About the Author
Timothy Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale University, and has written and edited a number of critically acclaimed and prize-winning books about twentieth-century European history: his most recent book, On Tyranny, was an international bestseller. Previous books include Black Earth, which was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the annual prize of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee; and Bloodlands, which won the Hannah Arendt Prize, the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award in the Humanities and the literature award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Snyder is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement. He is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a permanent fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences, and sits on the advisory council of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research.
"A brilliant and disturbing analysis, which should be read by anyone wishing to understand the political crisis currently engulfing the world." - Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus
"This story of how Russia dismantled democracy, and the man who set its template for fake news, is chilling and persuasive... unignorable... a disturbing and persuasive insight... Snyder's forensic examination of, for example the news cycle that followed the shooting down of flight MH17 makes essential reading... Meticulously researched and footnoted." - Tim Adams, Observer
"Snyder's central thesis is a strong one... Vividly and insightfully told." - Edward Lucas, The Times
"A rollercoaster world calls for a news editor's skills in processing facts and a philosopher's ability to dissect ideologies. He has both." - The Economist
"The Road to Unfreedom is a sprawling epic that veers from Dark Ages Kiev to modern day Washington and back again." - Oliver Bullough, Prospect
“Combining topical reporting with delvings into the history of ideas and some political-philosophical musing in the author’s own voice, this relatively short book covers a vast canvas... A roller-coaster world calls for a news editor’s skill in processing facts and a philosopher’s ability to dissect ideologies. Snyder has both.” - The Economist
“The Road to Unfreedom offers a brief, potent and carefully documented history of Vladimir Putin’s consolidation of power in Russia, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” - The Chicago Tribune
“We are living in dangerous times, Timothy Snyder argues forcefully and eloquently in his new book... To understand Putin, Snyder argues persuasively, you must understand his ideas... The Road to Unfreedom is a good wake-up call.” - Margaret MacMillan, The New York Times Book Review
“Deluged by ugly headlines, readers need books that force us to pause, step back and understand how America arrived at this chaotic moment. One of the best such books this year is historian Timothy Snyder’s essential, penetrating look at how toxic ideas, autocratic power and fake news spread from Russia into Ukraine, Western Europe and now to the White House. At a time when the politics of apocalypse haunt American democracy, Snyder helps unpack how we got here - and, maybe, how we can get out.” - Lucas Wittmann, TIME
"Snyder’s horror at what has happened in Russia - and at the risks to the US and Europe - gives his writing energy and passion. He is unsparing in his indictment of Putin’s Russia... But he is also clear-eyed about the weaknesses of American society that have made the US vulnerable to Russian intervention and domestic populism." - Gideon Rachman, The Financial Times
"Essential reading... Chilling and unignorable." - The Guardian
“Of all the books that seek to explain the current crisis of Western liberal democracy, none is more eloquent or frightening than Snyder’s The Road to Unfreedom.” - Foreign Affairs
“Brilliant... Bleak and eloquent... Snyder’s account of the Trump ascendancy, and the many helping hands given from Russia, is vividly and insightfully told.” - Edward Lucas, The Times