Wednesday, 29 March 2017

On 05:10 by admin   No comments
Publishers believe that Russian hackers are behind an attack on the Amazon page for a self-styled manual for resisting US president Donald Trump and other populist leaders, with the author, historian Timothy Snyder, claiming the hack as just the latest in a series of efforts by Russians to undermine his work.

Images of Snyder’s On Tyranny were replaced on Amazon.co.uk with those for a non-existent colouring book by “Timothy Strauss”. 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.

The Yale professor, who specialises in European history and the Holocaust, said: “The idea of making the world great again, the slogan left by the hacker, appears, to my knowledge, only in Russian on pro-Trump posters in the Russian Federation.” He added: “The hack 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 hack 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.

“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 his previous books – Bloodlands and Black Earth – both of 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.

Film rights bought for Black Earth by a Russian firm never reached the screen, he added, although the nature of of such deals is that few adaptations ever make go into production.
Once alerted to the hack, Vintage informed Amazon, which has now restored the page for On Tyranny to normal.

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