How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe  From the fall of Rome to the rise of Charlemagne the dark ages learning, scholarship, and culture disappeared from the European continent The great heritage of western civilization from the Greek and Roman classics to Jewish and Christian works would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of unconquered Ireland 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 treasures With the return of stability in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning Thus the Irish not only were conservators of civilization, but became shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on western culture


About the Author: Thomas Cahill

Born in New York City to Irish American parents and raised in Queens and the Bronx, Cahill was educated by Jesuits and studied ancient Greek and Latin He continued his study of Greek and Latin literature, as well as medieval philosophy, scripture and theology, at Fordham University, where he completed a B.A in classical literature and philosophy in 1964, and a pontifical degree in philosophy in 1965 He went on to complete his M.F.A in film and dramatic literature at Columbia University in 1968.In anticipation of writing The Gifts of the Jews, Cahill studied scripture at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and spent two years as a Visiting Scholar at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he studied Hebrew and the Hebrew Bible He also reads French and Italian In 1999, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Alfred University in New York.Cahill 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 to write full time, he was the Director of Religious Publishing at Doubleday for six years He and his wife, Susan, also an author, divide their time between New York and Rome Wikipedia



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

  1. says:

    Mind numbingly written, building up to a nearly inconsequential conclusion on how Irish monks might have helped preserve some of Europe s classic literature I m descended from the Irish and was looking forward to a little nationalist pride, but this failed by underdelivering from its title and being nearly unreadable from the fir


  2. says:

    This was awful Many reviews say things like charming and pleasant, but I thought it was tedious and meandering Not all history has to be chronological there s interesting stuff in here but it s too long with details of Roman society Also, the author writes like a blow hard, and interjects things like Alas and Dear Reader and It is up to t


  3. says:

    This is the kind of book where the title really seems to over commit to an idea and overstate the reality of history I went into this book thinking that Cahill was surely using hyperbole to say that the Irish saved civilization He may be, but this is still a remarkable and relevant history This is a great, great book that deserves the wide readers


  4. says:

    Though not exactly news to anyone who went to school in Ireland Cahill seems to have an Irish American readership as his target audience, particularly given away by his repeated and annoying generalizations about the Irish Spirit and such like what does he mean, Jameson or Bushmills , this nevertheless has lots of good stuff in it and the overall argument


  5. says:

    I do get why this book on How the Irish Saved Civilization was a bestseller Not only is it the perfect gift for St Patrick s Day, it is entertaining and readable But I also found it superficial and not reliable It may be the contrast with some really fine histories and biographies I ve read lately, but several things in this book made it suspect to me Cahill isn t


  6. says:

    I ve noticed that history books on Goodreads are often given lower star ratings by people who are upset to find that the author was using information to present a cohesive thesis rather than providing an unbiased account Although it is right to bring up slant in evaluating the truth of a thesis, it s somewhat sad to see these complaints for Cahill s defense of pre Joycean I


  7. says:

    As the Roman Empire crumbled, so too did literacy and libraries suffer By the seventh century, however, Patrick had converted enough men into being Christians and scribes that many ancient Greek and Roman books were preserved in Ireland, even as the originals crumbled elsewhere The preservation of ancient texts is a fascinating theme upon which to relate a history, but alas, the maj


  8. says:

    I m Irish Don t let my last name Zimmerman fool you I m the proud son of a guy whose surname unfortunately obscures the fact that my mother of whom I m also a proud son is 100 percent Irish, so assuming my dad has a little Irish in him who doesn t I m at least 50 percent Not sure why that s so important to me, but it is There s a mystique to Irishness that simply isn t there with other count


  9. says:

    The title may be a slight exaggeration, but it s a good read for students of western history Lots of good Middle Ages as well as the expected Irish background.Multiple readings pull out a wealth of details and insights.


  10. says:

    Cahill may occasionally engage in exaggeration and speculation, but he increased my interest in history I have read the first four books in the Hinges of History series, starting book 1 almost 20 years ago, so my memory is not bright However, the books stuck with me fairly well Kudos to the author for that Since then, Cahill wrote twobooks, but I have not read them This is quasi history told in a fairly acces


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