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

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

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Overview

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, Donal Donnelly

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 from 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 Tuchman'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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780739309650
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/15/2003
Series: The Hinges of History Series
Edition description: Unabridged, 7 CDs, 8 hrs.
Sales rank: 582,597
Product dimensions: 5.06(w) x 5.93(h) x 1.05(d)

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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How the Irish Saved Civilization 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If there is one unexcusable thing in the world, it is a dull history book. Too many historians go at their task with no flair. NOT SO of Mr. Cahill. He writes history with color, with beauty, with feeling. He integrates his history with other facets of the human experience--pulling in theology and philosophy. 'How the Irish Save Civilization' is a great book. It makes me proud to be part Irish.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I enjoyed Cahill's thesis, even though I thought he could have spent more time elaborating more on it. I have read all of the HINGES OF HISTORY series except The Gifts of the Jews. I'm hoping to get to it shortly. His chapters on Patrick are good and I really enjoyed all the education on Irish literature, etc. His early chapters are good too. Cahill is very good at giving the reader a context for where he is going to go. I was also pleased that there were less references to sex in this book than some of the others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was very good. It is a book that will make you think and recall facts learnt long ago in history class. It was very intriging and very informative. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Irish history.
Francesca-Marie More than 1 year ago
How the Irish Saved Civilization was ultimately a fascinating and enlightening read. There is nothing more enjoyable than a book that will provoke thought, and this book did just that, and beautifully so. While the undue bias against paganism was more than a bit off-putting at times, the book overall was enjoyable. The style is engaging and accessible without feeling too “dumbed down,” which is refreshing and pleasant, as such a balance is difficult to find. Even without considering the writing style, it would not be an exaggeration to say that this book had a deep personal impact on me. It was a factor in my renewed interest in my Irish heritage, as well as in my reconsideration of my view of the Catholic Church. Saint Patrick’s faith, as it is portrayed in this book, as well as the faith of his followers, is far different from harshness I perceived during my Roman Catholic education in my youth. Had it been shown to me then as I saw it in this book—warm, hopeful, accepting—I may not have wished as strongly as I did for some time to disassociate myself from any aspect of it. But I digress. Thomas Cahill’s book is a thorough and thoughtful investigation of the oft overlooked impact made by the Irish on the course of Western Civilization’s history. I feel it is not only interesting, but certainly a must-read for anyone looking to really understand the period. It provides such a wealth of information that is not often presented elsewhere. Once one is able to move past the anti-pagan bias, the book is truly a captivating and inspiring piece. I would certainly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great book. really helped me to understand what happened in the dark ages and the irish contribution to recivilizing europe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To think my Irish ancestors had saved civilization! Okay, Kenneth Clark in his book Civilisation attributes the deed to Charlemagne while Cahill, in his lovely tale, credits the Irish. Who cares? The thing was saved, and Cahill's book is a most charming read. Cormac Keegan, author of IRISH FIRST, EUROPEAN SECOND
Guest More than 1 year ago
You will be disappointed if you read this book as a history text. Instead, its value is in the colorful way in which Cahill dramatizes the remarkable contributions of St. Patrick and the Medieval Irish monks. Cahill is a very insightful writer. His description of the many parallels between the falling Roman Empire of the early fifth century and the United States of the early twenty-first century is alone worth the price of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book offers a summary of the transformation from the Roman Era through the dark ages to the dawn of the Middle Ages. Most of the summary is well covered in many other books but the material about St. Patrick and the Irish Monks involvement in preserving civilation is nicely summarized.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book appears to fall in the new genre of "creative non-fiction". If one accepts this and an occasional leap in faith, it is an entertaining read.
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I enjoyed listening to How the Irish Saved Civilization on my commutes. The Whys and Hows of History and Civilizations during the Dark Ages are thought provoking and stimulating. I read Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea after How the Irish Saved Civilization, and have Cahill's other books from his Hinges of History on my to-read list.
CandaceU More than 1 year ago
How the Irish saved Civilization was an interesting read. This book provided a look into the role of the Irish in civilization, which is often overlooked. This book also provide interesting details into history for example, Thomas Cahill explained how the Romans feared the Irish because they would show up to battle with crazy hair only wearing a torc (neck ornament) around their neck. Cahill tied their appearance during battle to their strong and stubborn mentality. I also enjoyed how the author used literature from ancient western civilization to provide an in depth understanding to the moral before, during, and after the fall of Rome, and of how the Irish transformed and saved civilization by saving books.
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