A brilliant exploration of freedom—what it is, how it’s been misunderstood, and why it’s our only chance for survival—by the acclaimed Yale historian and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller On Tyranny

“Much like life itself, freedom needs to be defined and redefined. On Freedom offers fresh insight into essential aspects of human existence—the values and obligations inherent in every individual’s life.”—Ai Weiwei

Timothy Snyder has been called “the leading interpreter of our dark times.” As a historian, he has given us startling reinterpretations of political collapse and mass killing. As a public intellectual, he has turned that knowledge toward counsel and prediction, working against authoritarianism here and abroad. His book On Tyranny has inspired millions around the world to fight for freedom. Now, in this tour de force of political philosophy, he helps us see exactly what we’re fighting for.

Freedom is the great American commitment, but as Snyder argues, we have lost sight of what it means—and this is leading us into crisis. Too many of us look at freedom as the absence of state power: We think we're free if we can do and say as we please, and protect ourselves from government overreach. But true freedom isn’t so much freedom from as freedom to—the freedom to thrive, to take risks for futures we choose by working together. Freedom is the value that makes all other values possible.

On Freedom takes us on a thrilling intellectual journey. Drawing on the work of philosophers and political dissidents, conversations with contemporary thinkers, and his own experiences coming of age in a time of American exceptionalism, Snyder identifies the practices and attitudes—the habits of mind—that will allow us to design a government in which we and future generations can flourish. We come to appreciate the importance of traditions (championed by the right) but also the role of institutions (the purview of the left). Intimate yet ambitious, this book helps forge a new consensus rooted in a politics of abundance, generosity, and grace.
© Jiri Zerzon for Hospodarske noviny
Timothy Snyder is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History and Global Affairs at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. His books, which have been published in over forty languages, include Bloodlands, Black Earth, On Tyranny, Road to Unfreedom, Our Malady, and On Freedom. His work has inspired poster campaigns and exhibitions, sculptures, a punk rock song, a rap song, a play, and an opera, and he has appeared in over fifty films and documentaries. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut. View titles by Timothy Snyder
“Timothy Snyder is one of our most original and perceptive thinkers, on the history of Europe, on American politics, and now, on freedom. Everyone who cares about freedom—what it means and what it takes to preserve it—should read this book.”—Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy
 
“We hear of freedom, but do we grasp it? In these hard times for liberty, On Freedom offers a deep inquiry arising from a diversity of perspectives. It makes the case that freedom, once explored and understood, is the way forward to good government. We are all fortunate that Professor Snyder has shown us the way.”—President Volodymyr Zelens’kyi

“A great and daring book. In this magnificent meditation on the nature and meaning of humanity, Timothy Snyder rejects the idea that freedom is merely the absence of restraint, establishing instead that it is the presence of the conditions necessary for people to choose a better future. Above all, Snyder’s insightful and powerful work reminds us that freedom is about humanity, and that creating a better world is up to us.”—Heather Cox Richardson, author of Democracy Awakening

“A must-read. Timothy Snyder is one of the leading minds of our times. This new book draws from his work as an historian of central Europe, his traveling and moving encounters in Ukraine at war, and his thinking on how democracy, pluralism, and wealth inequality will look like in 2076 United States and the world at large.”—Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century

“Much like life itself, freedom needs to be defined and redefined. On Freedom offers fresh insight into essential aspects of human existence—the values and obligations inherent in every individual’s life.”—Ai Weiwei

“Fascinating. Part deeply personal memoir, part political manifesto, part philosophical poem, On Freedom captures the voice of one of today’s most important Western public intellectuals.”—Ivan Krastev, author of After Europe

“Years ago, inside a prison in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, a man asked if I’d ever felt free while incarcerated. Timothy Snyder’s On Freedom reminds me that sometimes, in those cells, I was as free as I’ll ever be, nurturing imaginative tomorrows, knowing the art of dreaming made those dreams more real than the handcuffs that then bound my wrists. What more can any of us want than a reminder that our freedom, in being the most powerful future tense we have, gives more deliberate meaning to our todays.”—Dwayne Betts, author of A Question of Freedom

“There’s nothing else like On Freedom. This time the acclaimed historian draws not just from global history but his own. The result is a wonderfully provocative and profoundly persuasive book. Snyder leads us away from our misconception that freedom is just the removal of what stands in our way and toward a project of liberty that, through active engagement and commitment to the common good, we can achieve together.”—J.J. Abrams

About

A brilliant exploration of freedom—what it is, how it’s been misunderstood, and why it’s our only chance for survival—by the acclaimed Yale historian and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller On Tyranny

“Much like life itself, freedom needs to be defined and redefined. On Freedom offers fresh insight into essential aspects of human existence—the values and obligations inherent in every individual’s life.”—Ai Weiwei

Timothy Snyder has been called “the leading interpreter of our dark times.” As a historian, he has given us startling reinterpretations of political collapse and mass killing. As a public intellectual, he has turned that knowledge toward counsel and prediction, working against authoritarianism here and abroad. His book On Tyranny has inspired millions around the world to fight for freedom. Now, in this tour de force of political philosophy, he helps us see exactly what we’re fighting for.

Freedom is the great American commitment, but as Snyder argues, we have lost sight of what it means—and this is leading us into crisis. Too many of us look at freedom as the absence of state power: We think we're free if we can do and say as we please, and protect ourselves from government overreach. But true freedom isn’t so much freedom from as freedom to—the freedom to thrive, to take risks for futures we choose by working together. Freedom is the value that makes all other values possible.

On Freedom takes us on a thrilling intellectual journey. Drawing on the work of philosophers and political dissidents, conversations with contemporary thinkers, and his own experiences coming of age in a time of American exceptionalism, Snyder identifies the practices and attitudes—the habits of mind—that will allow us to design a government in which we and future generations can flourish. We come to appreciate the importance of traditions (championed by the right) but also the role of institutions (the purview of the left). Intimate yet ambitious, this book helps forge a new consensus rooted in a politics of abundance, generosity, and grace.

Author

© Jiri Zerzon for Hospodarske noviny
Timothy Snyder is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History and Global Affairs at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. His books, which have been published in over forty languages, include Bloodlands, Black Earth, On Tyranny, Road to Unfreedom, Our Malady, and On Freedom. His work has inspired poster campaigns and exhibitions, sculptures, a punk rock song, a rap song, a play, and an opera, and he has appeared in over fifty films and documentaries. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut. View titles by Timothy Snyder

Praise

“Timothy Snyder is one of our most original and perceptive thinkers, on the history of Europe, on American politics, and now, on freedom. Everyone who cares about freedom—what it means and what it takes to preserve it—should read this book.”—Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy
 
“We hear of freedom, but do we grasp it? In these hard times for liberty, On Freedom offers a deep inquiry arising from a diversity of perspectives. It makes the case that freedom, once explored and understood, is the way forward to good government. We are all fortunate that Professor Snyder has shown us the way.”—President Volodymyr Zelens’kyi

“A great and daring book. In this magnificent meditation on the nature and meaning of humanity, Timothy Snyder rejects the idea that freedom is merely the absence of restraint, establishing instead that it is the presence of the conditions necessary for people to choose a better future. Above all, Snyder’s insightful and powerful work reminds us that freedom is about humanity, and that creating a better world is up to us.”—Heather Cox Richardson, author of Democracy Awakening

“A must-read. Timothy Snyder is one of the leading minds of our times. This new book draws from his work as an historian of central Europe, his traveling and moving encounters in Ukraine at war, and his thinking on how democracy, pluralism, and wealth inequality will look like in 2076 United States and the world at large.”—Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century

“Much like life itself, freedom needs to be defined and redefined. On Freedom offers fresh insight into essential aspects of human existence—the values and obligations inherent in every individual’s life.”—Ai Weiwei

“Fascinating. Part deeply personal memoir, part political manifesto, part philosophical poem, On Freedom captures the voice of one of today’s most important Western public intellectuals.”—Ivan Krastev, author of After Europe

“Years ago, inside a prison in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, a man asked if I’d ever felt free while incarcerated. Timothy Snyder’s On Freedom reminds me that sometimes, in those cells, I was as free as I’ll ever be, nurturing imaginative tomorrows, knowing the art of dreaming made those dreams more real than the handcuffs that then bound my wrists. What more can any of us want than a reminder that our freedom, in being the most powerful future tense we have, gives more deliberate meaning to our todays.”—Dwayne Betts, author of A Question of Freedom

“There’s nothing else like On Freedom. This time the acclaimed historian draws not just from global history but his own. The result is a wonderfully provocative and profoundly persuasive book. Snyder leads us away from our misconception that freedom is just the removal of what stands in our way and toward a project of liberty that, through active engagement and commitment to the common good, we can achieve together.”—J.J. Abrams

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