History class tends to put me to sleep and so does historical fiction. That’s just the unfortunate truth and that’s why I was so surprised when I could not put this book down. Let me tell you, this Timothy Snyder says there are 20 lessons to be learned from the twentieth century, and he explains each lesson with a historical example. Now, I must confess that it took me awhile to get into it, but once I did, I just HAD to know what all twenty lessons were.
As always, let’s start with the good. The number one thing I felt made this book so impactful was the fact that the lessons were very relevant. Now, I don’t mean that all the lessons could be applied in everyday life, but they all evoked a sense of understanding in me that had not been there before. Not only that, the historical examples were easy to understand and demonstrated the lesson. Sometimes when using history to support a claim, you can pick an event that may seem like it supports what you are saying, but in reality, it just doesn’t. That was not at all a problem for Mr.Snyder; he obviously spent a lot of time and dedication into picking lessons and historical events that were relevant and got his point across clearly.
Now, onto the bad. I must confess that there is a reasonable explanation for the “bad” part of this book. There was only so much that happened in the twentieth century, so by lesson 10, the examples Snyder was using were getting repetitive. Most of the time, he used something or someone from World War II, and throughout the book, that something or someone was mentioned at least one more time. But, Snyder had a limited array of history to choose from, so the “bad” part couldn’t really have been avoided.
However, despite all the repetitiveness (yes, repetitiveness is a real word), this small book was packed full of powerful lessons. Even I, a person who despises history (because honestly, who cares? They are all dead anyway) will be re-reading this book. Congratulations Timothy Snyder, you have my seal of approval. Just kidding, I am sure he doesn’t care about one insignificant person. Seriously though, I highly recommend this book and it just hits the 130 page mark, so it really shouldn’t take that long to read.
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Until next time, let this following quote make you smile- “If lessons of history teach us anything it is that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us.”