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How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas…
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How the Irish Saved Civilization (1995)

by Thomas Cahill

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hinges of History (1)

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4,865701,418 (3.7)94
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» See also 94 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
Just glancing quickly through the reviews here at Librarything is pretty amusing. It seems like Cahill managed to find a sweet spot where his critics say completely contradictory things. I think it's a good book, and you can learn a lot from it. The presentation is easy, and the assertions that annoyed some of the critics are transparent and enjoyably open to challenge. It would still probably make a fine book club selection so everyone could argue that he's too scholarly and not scholarly enough, too Christian, or a vile pagan who should burn in hell with Gibbon. Page 161 in my edition. "Or, to recall the most characteristic of all Irish responses when faced with the demand for a plain, unequivocal answer: "Well, it is, and it isn't". ( )
  rsairs | Sep 20, 2018 |
Great book about the middle ages and how the monks transcribed western history...
  Kevin.Bokay | Aug 5, 2018 |
This reads like breezy fiction; the style is annoying; the book is full of assumptions that are presented as fact. Thomas Cahill is NOT a scholar! Where did he go to school? The book raises many questions about the thoroughness of Cahill's research. Like a bedtime story, this is fabulous--as in mythical, not as in wonderful. ( )
  deckla | May 25, 2018 |
so i would say its a good history lesson on the Irish and their contribution to mankind, but was slow ( )
  longhorndaniel | Jul 19, 2017 |
Deeply satisfying book about how the Irish were last to get Christianity, via Patrick, their ex-slave, and then discovered learning just as it was being wiped out all over the rest of Europe. They were sheltered from the invaders long enough to reseed Europe with Latin learning in the Dark ages, before succumbing to the Vikings themselves. Describes the attractive nature of their faith and takes time to tell a lot of the story of Western learning in the course of the story. ( )
  oataker | Apr 15, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cahill, Thomasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Donnelly, DonalReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graaf, Renée deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however, virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. -- Reinhold Niebuhr
Dedication
To Susie ...
first and fairest ... best and dearest:
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love, and Pleasure.

(spelling is authors)
First words
On the last, cold day of December in the dying year we count as 406, the river Rhine froze solid, providing the natural bridge that hundreds of thousands of hungry men, women, and children had been waiting for.
Quotations
So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban my cat and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.
Wherever they went the Irish brought with them their books, many unseen in Europe for centuries and tied to their waists as signs of triumph, just as Irish heroes had once tied to their waists their enemies' head. Wherever they went they brought their love of learning and their skills in bookmaking. In the bays and valleys of their exile, they reestablished literacy and breathed new life into the exhausted literary culture of Europe.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385418493, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:59 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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