Isle of the Saints recreates the harsh yet richly spiritual world of medieval Irish monks on the Christian frontier of barbarian Europe. Lisa Bitel draws on accounts of saints' lives written between 800 and 1200 to explain, from the monks' own perspective, the social networks that bound them to one another and to their secular neighbors.
"Bitel's book is exceptionally well researched and very well written. It sums up a huge amount of work done on Irish monasticism over the past fifty years."—Commonweal
Presents a richly woven account of the first Irish Christians by combining the hard facts of social analysis drawn from history, anthropology, and archaeology, with the vivid imagery and incidental detail drawn from the saints' lives written centuries later. Emphasizes the economic, social, and political role of the monasteries in 5th to 11th century Irish culture. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)