Russia blamed for Amazon listing of anti-Trump book | Books

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Publishers believe that Russian individuals are behind the creation of an fake book parodying a self-styled manual for resisting US president Donald Trump and other populist leaders, with the author, historian Timothy Snyder, claiming the listing to be the latest attack in a series of efforts by Russians to undermine his work.

A non-existent colouring book by “Timothy Strauss” appeared as a listing on Amazon.co.uk with the same title as Snyder’s On Tyranny. The blurb for Strauss’s book said it contained “lessons to Make World Great Again” [sic] – a slogan used on pro-Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin posters that have appeared across the Russian Federation.

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Snyder, a Yale professor who specialises in European history and the Holocaust, said: “The idea of making the world great again appears, to my knowledge, only in Russian on pro-Trump posters in the Russian Federation.” He added: “The attack basically confirms several of the lessons in On Tyranny, such as [No] 14, on the importance of digital privacy.”

Snyder’s book is a distillation of insights he has gleaned from 20th-century history about how tyrants can be resisted and presents practical actions to take against repressive regimes. This week, his UK publisher Vintage marked the launch of the book with a poster installation in a London street featuring the entire book. It is believed to be the first time a book has been promoted in such a way.

A No 1 bestseller on Amazon, the professor said he thought the listing was inspired by publicity for the book, which has proved popular on both sides of the Atlantic – coupled with a bad week for Trump, whose attempts to quash Obamacare were defeated in Congress.

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“Russia has shown a tendency to jump in to help him at such times,” he said. Pointing to the fight for the White House last October, when Russian diplomacy criticised opposition to Trump’s pro-torture position, he added: “Perhaps someone who supports Mr Trump construed my book’s No 1 ranking on Amazon as a small part of his bad week.”

Snyder claimed there had been a pattern of Russian action to undermine another of his previous books – Bloodlands – which tackled Hitler and Stalin. “The Russian foreign ministry, in an annual list, claimed that the existence of Bloodlands somehow constituted a human rights violation – odd for a book … whose subject was the violation of human rights,” he said.

A Russian company also bought the rights to publish the book Bloodlands in Russian, Snyder said, but the translation never appeared.

Once alerted to the fake book listing, Vintage informed Amazon, which removed it immediately. An Amazon spokesman told the Guardian: “All authors must follow our guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The book in question is no longer available.”

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