April update and a book suggestion for turbulent times

Saturday 14 April 2018

This month sees the addition on the website of a new topic for the Americas region – Topic 12 The Great Depression (hopefully completed by the end of the month)

For the medievalists, the Fourth Crusade has also been added.

And as ever, we have been updating and improving existing pages.

Arguably, the study and understanding of history is becoming even more important in the current tense and unpredictable world that we are living in. Major powers are once again asserting their power economically, militarily and territorially. Diplomacy is faltering. Just this week UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said "The Cold War is back with a vengeance, but with a difference. The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present."

So it's perhaps timely to mention a recently published book by historian Timothy Snyder, ‘On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century’.  Snyder starts each chapter with a salient message or ‘lesson’ for today which is backed up with an analysis of a key moment/development/event from the last century.

As Snyder says in his introduction ‘History doesn’t repeat but it does instruct… We might be tempted to think that our democratic heritage automatically protects us from such threats. This is a misguided reflex. Our own tradition demands that we examine history to understand the deep sources of tyranny, and to consider the proper responses to it. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or communism in the twentieth century. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so’.

Snyder's lessons provide plenty of food for thought and stimulus for ToK discussions – thoroughly recommended!


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