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.
BONUS MATERIAL: This ebook edition includes an excerpt from Thomas Cahill's Heretics and Heroes.
An account of the pivotal role played by Irish monks in transcribing and preserving Classical civilization during the Dark Ages.
Customer ReviewsSee All
How did the Irish save civilization? Monks like Columella and Columbanus in the sixth century, as the Huns and Avars poured across the Rhine and Danube sacking all libraries and nascent monasteries in Western Europe, these Irish Christian monks were thoroughly but idiosyncratically preserving not only the Judeo-Christian texts and teachings in their monasteries but pagan or Greco-Roman learning as well and were sharing all texts with believers and non-believers; the Irish monasteries of the Early Middle Ages seemed like university towns or Buddhist retreats.
Once the barbarian raids had settled a monk like Columbanus is credited with starting perhaps as many as 60 monasteries in Gaul and Lombardy. Thr organization of these monasteries were far less hierarchic than later Benedictine ones like Monte Cassino were. In fact, Cahill argues that the Irish offered a different conception of Christianity.
This book wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive - or even overly serious - take on medieval history or the value of the Irish. Instead, it’s an author in love with his subject, whipping through the waning of the classical world. Does he overstate his case? Of course, but it’s still an entertaining read!
How the Irish Saved Civilization
This book has impacted me. It has helped me put context to my faith and to realize how little I am in the grand scheme of things and yet see how Christ can use me not inspire of that but purely because of that! Awesome book. MUST READ