Irrational, but True
I enjoyed this work, if for no other reason than for it brings to light the history of a people (and a nation) of whom I'm quite ignorant.
Thomas Cahill's sweeping endeavor wrapps Irish culture and history into the wider context of Europe's widest trajectories, from early celtic civilization, to the role it played in the dynamics of Britain during the Roman conquest and eventual fall of the empire. In the dark ages to come, and in the medieval period to follow, Irish scribes, and indeed Irish cultural morays, had a much more pivotal role in setting the tone than I myself previously realized.
I think the book's title may take this notion a bit far. Plenty of the greco-roman works were preserved and retransmitted to the west, not from Ireland, but from the east... via Byzantium and Islamic influence in Spain, Sicily, Italy, and during the crusades. Yet, Ireland does seem to have played a very important, if not exclusive or even vital, role in the process. The book's main argument holds enough water to be worth reading for any fan of history.
What I think is this book's best asset, however, is the examination of Irish culture, mythology, paradigms, and traditions, and how those values and ideas influenced the wider world of the dark and early middle ages. I've not known of many of these heroes and stories, and the author recounts them in a light that brings them richness, texture, and humanity. We hear of Irish epics, Irish lore, a deeper exploration of Irish personalities such as Saint Patrick, and a wide array of Irish poetry and prose. The Irish are presented to us as a people with great creative energy, and values with which we today can empathize, such as a value for the written word and for ideas that caused Irish scribes to translate and copy even books they couldn't fully grasp or which they outright found to be folly. In particular, I found the verses and quotations to be memorable, full of heart and sensibility, and often recounted at length in this work, rather than in small snippets.
I guess I should have read the dust jacket first - but this book was not really about how the Irish saved history, but the development of early literature. I kept waiting to hear about the work of the Irish abbeys and the production of the great works produced at Lindisfarne and Iona - but these were covered almost as an after thought. People who want to find out about early greek and roman literature might enjoy this book,
not without more research to find out what the book was really about
Great book to read if you're of Irish heritage. Great book to read if you didn't know you were Irish. Excellent wrap up of the fall of Rome, and the rise of Ireland.
Artist, farmer, avid reader. I am interested in all sorts of things; history, religions, psychology, cultures, travel, politics and more.
the performance was stiff and slow
disappointment- I was so looking forward to more history for my course of study
Listening to "How the Irish Saved Civilization" or watching paint dry?...tough choice
Diction teacher. His pronunciation was so clipped that it took away any enjoyment of hearing the story. No conversation quality at all. It was a story, so relax and tell the story. His voice was so distracting, I stopped listening to it and moved on to another book.
No. I just wish that I could preview the narrator before buying.
Both the dramatic and clipped diction and the timbre of his voice were distracting from teh story. This fellow is not a storyteller.
Didn't get far enough into it to hear a character.
This book seems not to know what it was supposed to be about. It rambles pointlessly. I've suffered through half of this book. I can't stand to listen to any more of it so I'll never know if it gets any better. I want those wasted hours of my life returned.
The Great Courses series never disappoints.
The audio quality was poor.
DO NOT PURCHASE.
No. The cadence and parsing didn't seem to fit many of the sentences. I found it helped to turn the speed up to 1.25x, but that was mostly to get through it.
It would have been nice to have the chapters of the book match the chapters in Audible.
Love history but this book is too philosophical to satisfy my tastes. Cahill writes extensive passages about the works of some ancient writers, but the argument he tries to make get lost.
I thought this would be a book I'd rave about. You almost need cliff notes to understand what Cahill is means. He use Latin, Greek, Gallic to no effect. He also dives into the Toine which has about as much meaning to me as Beowulf.
That said there are sections of the book I found intriguing but many chapters that could serve as melatonin.
Okay. Many words not pronounced as American would. Many names of the ancient writes are not what Americans would recognize due to pronunciation.
I would not recommend this version -- the reader is overly dramatic and the author too self indulgent. The story is interesting and deserves a good editor and better reader.
I like long books, so I chose the 8 hour version and regretted it the first day. Still, in the long slog thru this there are fascinating facts and perspectives.
I'm Irish, and this book is dreadful. First, the performance is utterly comical and becomes very tiring to listen to after a while. Second, this is really a book about the classics of western literature, not a history book. That is, this a book about literature which will be difficult to engage or enjoy for anybody not already well versed in the major works of the western cannon such as The Confessions of St. Augustine. Finally, so much time is spent on figures such as Saint Augustine of Hippo (North Africa) that one cannot even really say How the Irish Saved Civilization is a book about Ireland. Rather, this feels like a book by a professor who knows more than you do and wants to show it off. It's title is magnificent and was probably the major driver of sales. I suspect that few readers will make it to the end of this book, however.