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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] /

A history of the Dark Ages showing that as Europe was in an intellectual decline, Ireland became a haven for scholarship. Full description

Main Author:
Other Authors: Donnelly, Donal.
Format: CD
Language: English
Published: Random House Audio, 1999
Edition: Unabridged.
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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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Review by Booklist Review

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

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

An account of the pivotal role played by Irish monks in transcribing and preserving Classical civilization during the Dark Ages. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Ireland's shining moment in European history was in the Dark Ages, when it did yeoman labor for future generations. Preserving literacy, Latin, and Christianity while Western Europe was isolated and barbarian, Irish monks also returned Christianity to Europe with ideas like confession that are part of the modern Catholic Church. Cahill is director of religious publishing at Doubleday, and this is his second book on Ireland. His narrative-highly literate and affectionate, if somewhat rambling and indulgent-links literature, philosophy, history, and lots of legends as he describes the fall of Roman civilization and the lives of saints Patrick and Columba, especially how they established the monasteries critical to the preservation effort. As a freewheeling, witty popular history of Irish Christianity in the Dark Ages, this will amuse and enlighten your Irish kin, and the book is recommended for that audience. The title notwithstanding, there is no untold story here.-Robert C. Moore, DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. Information Svcs., N. Billerica, Mass. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Thomas Cahill is the author of a series of books detailing turning points in Western civilization and the impact of various cultural heritages. These books include How the Irish Save Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Rise of Medieval Europe and The Gift of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels.

Before embarking on his ambitious series, which will eventually include seven volumes, Cahill was the director of religious publishing at Doubleday.

(Bowker Author Biography) Thomas Cahill is the former director of religious publishing at Doubleday. He divides his time between Rome & New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)