How the Irish Saved Civilization


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How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill

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This is the paperback edition.

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hardcover

audio-cassette (unabridged)

 

Book Description

How the Irish Saved Civilization is the first of a projected 7 volume series by Thomas Cahill called Hinges of History. The second, third and fourth, volumes, also bestsellers, are Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels, The Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus and Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter.

In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little known "hinge" of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the "island of saints and scholars," the Ireland of St. Patrick and the Book of Kells. Here, far from the barbaric wars that plagued the European continent, Ireland's monks and scribes laboriously and lovingly preserved the written treasury of the West. Many great pieces of Greek and Roman literature, almost sure to be lost in the chaos of the Middle Ages, were saved by the monks of Ireland. This brilliant audio edition of the bestselling book is read by acclaimed actor Liam Neeson. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

About the Author

THOMAS CAHILL is the author of the best-selling books, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland 's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels, and Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus. These books comprise the first three volumes of a prospective seven-volume series entitled "The Hinges of History," in which Cahill recounts formative moments in Western civilization. In "The Hinges of History," Thomas Cahill endeavors to retell the story of the Western World through little-known stories of the great gift-givers, people who contributed immensely to Western, culture and the evolution of Western sensibility, thus revealing how we have become the people we are and why we think and feel the way we do today.

Thomas Cahill is best known, in his books and lectures, for taking on a broad scope of complex history and distilling it into accessible, instructive, and entertaining narrative. His lively, engaging writing animates cultures that existed up to five millennia ago, revealing the lives of his principal characters with refreshing insight and joy. He writes history, not in its usual terms of war and catastrophe, but as "narratives of grace, the recountings of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required by circumstance." Unlike all too many history lessons, a Thomas Cahill history book or speech is impossible to forget.

He has taught at Queens College, Fordham University and Seton Hall University, served as the North American education correspondent for the Times of London, and was for many years a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Prior to retiring recently to write full-time, he was director of religious publishing at Doubleday for six years. He and his wife, Susan, also an author, founded the now legendary Cahill & Company Catalogue, much beloved by readers. They divide their time between New York and Rome. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Back Cover

"A lovely and engrossing tale . . . Graceful and instructive."--Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"Cahill's lively prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history."--The Boston Globe

From the Publisher
The perfect St. Patrick's Day gift, and a book in the best tradition of popular history -- the untold story of Ireland's role in maintaining Western culture while the Dark Ages settled on Europe. Every year millions of Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but they may not be aware of how great an influence St. Patrick was on the subsequent history of civilization. Not only did he bring Christianity to Ireland, he instilled a sense of literacy and learning that would create the conditions that allowed Ireland to become "the isle of saints and scholars" -- and thus preserve Western culture while Europe was being overrun by barbarians. In this entertaining and compelling narrative, Thomas Cahill tells the story of how Europe evolved front the classical age of Rome to the medieval era. Without Ireland, the transition could not have taken place. Not only did Irish monks and scribes maintain the very record of Western civilization -- copying manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, while libraries and learning on the continent were forever lost -- they brought their uniquely Irish world-view to the task. As Cahill delightfully illustrates, so much of the liveliness we associate with medieval culture has its roots in Ireland. When the seeds of culture were replanted on the European continent, it was from Ireland that they were germinated. In the tradition of Barbara Tuchmail's A Distant Mirror, How The Irish Saved Civilization reconstructs an era that few know about but which is central to understanding our past and our cultural heritage. But it conveys its knowledge with a winking wit that aptly captures the sensibility of the unsung Irish who relaunched civilization.

Editorial Reviews

World History Books

From Publishers Weekly
An account of the pivotal role played by Irish monks in transcribing and preserving Classical civilization during the Dark Ages.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
We usually associate the preservation of Greek and Roman learning with the Muslim world, but here Cahill brings to light the vital role also played by Irish monks and scribes during the time of St. Patrick and the Book of Kells.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The Los Angeles Times
Cahill's lovely prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history.

From AudioFile
This interesting view of Irish history at the time of the Dark Ages begins after the fall of Rome. Cahill's work will particularly interest medievalists and students of Irish culture while the casual listener may be bogged down in post-Roman events and shifts of power. Liam Neeson's rich, smooth voice delineates each element of political, religious and cultural alliance. He adds appropriate emphasis to details and gives context and scale to the narration. The cadence and softened consonants of his speech make appealing and pleasant listening. Though recording this work makes it accessible to an audience who might not otherwise read Cahill's work, the density and detail of this history demand studied listening. R.F.W. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Amazon.com
In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little-known "hinge" of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the "island of saints and scholars," the Ireland of St. Patrick and the Book of Kells. Here, far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes laboriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the West's written treasury. When stability returned in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning, becoming not only the conservators of civilization, but also the shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western culture.

From Booklist
Cahill's absolutely fascinating narrative details the pivotal role the Irish played in preserving and transmitting the classical literature of both Greece and Rome. As the once vast and mighty Roman Empire disintegrated into chaos and ruin during the course of the fifth century, illiteracy became the standard, all the great continental libraries vanished, and scholarship ceased to exist. Operating on the fringe of Europe, the newly literate Irish scribal scholars began the monumental task of copying every piece of Western literature they could uncover. In addition to transcribing this profound cultural legacy, Irish monks in exile, inspired by the legendary St. Patrick, reestablished literacy on the continent, providing a critical bridge between ancient Rome and medieval Europe. An utterly absorbing and entertaining chronicle of a virtually neglected episode in the annals of Western civilization. Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Midwest Book Review
The holy men and women of Ireland play a key role in preserving European Western civilization's heritage: they remain unconquered when Rome fell and preserved the bulk of western social and literary heritage. Passages gleaned from historical writings compliment a fine history which often reads like a novel. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Ingram
Bringing readers to the Ireland of St. Patrick and the Book of Kells, a historical examination of Ireland's role in the rise of medieval Europe cites the work of countless monks and scribes in the preservation of the West's written treasury. Reprint. Tour. K. AB.

"A lovely and engrossing tale . . . Graceful and instructive."--Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"Cahill's lively prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history."--The Boston Globe

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