How the Irish Saved Civilization
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publication Date: February 1, 1996
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The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe
During the Dark Ages, learning, scholarship, and culture disappeared from the European continent. The great heritage of Western civilization would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of the unconquered Ireland. This delightful and illuminating book takes readers to the "island of saints and scholars" and shows how the Irish put their unique stamp on Western culture. 30 illustrations.
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.
"Charming and poetic...an entirely engaging, delectable voyage into th edistant past, a small treasure." -- The New York Times
"A lovely and engrossing tale . . . Graceful and instructive." -- Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
"Cahill's lively prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history." -- The Boston Globe