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How the Irish Saved Civilization | [Thomas Cahill]

How the Irish Saved Civilization

Thanks to Thomas Cahill, the pivotal era called the "dark ages" is brought back to vibrant life, its personages portrayed in all their seemingly contemporary humanity, its issues simply and compellingly spelled out. How the Irish Saved Civilization will change forever the way we look at our past, and ourselves.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

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. With the return of stability in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning. Thus the Irish not only were conservators of civilization, but became shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western culture.

Thanks to Thomas Cahill, this pivotal era is brought back to vibrant life, its personages portrayed in all their seemingly contemporary humanity, its issues simply and compellingly spelled out. How the Irish Saved Civilization will change forever the way we look at our past, and ourselves.

©1995 Thomas Cahill; (P)1999 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, a Division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Cahill's lovely prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history." (The Los Angeles Times)
"Charming and poetic...an entirely engaging, delectable voyage into the distant past, a small treasure." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (373 )
5 star
 (105)
4 star
 (102)
3 star
 (92)
2 star
 (39)
1 star
 (35)
Overall
3.8 (120 )
5 star
 (43)
4 star
 (36)
3 star
 (27)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (7)
Story
3.6 (126 )
5 star
 (42)
4 star
 (23)
3 star
 (38)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (11)
Performance
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  •  
    Marie Forest Hills, NY, United States 01-27-15
    Marie Forest Hills, NY, United States 01-27-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    160
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    137
    30
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    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "Dragging"

    I gave up. The Romans got to me. Everything you read, or will read, on the Roman Chapters is true. Bring us the Irish for crying out loud. The Roman section could have been summarized. It in deed necessary to establish the fall the Empire and the role of the Irish, but the author is clearly indulging himself with little consideration for his readers.
    The slow pace of the reading doesn't help. I had it on fast speed (x 2) and still I dozed off a few times.
    I may take it up again if I find where the Irish enter the stage.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renee Spokane, WA, United States 03-27-14
    Renee Spokane, WA, United States 03-27-14 Member Since 2015

    Artist, farmer, avid reader. I am interested in all sorts of things; history, religions, psychology, cultures, travel, politics and more.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
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    38
    2
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    Story
    "I tried...really I did"
    Would you try another book from Thomas Cahill and/or Donal Donnelly?

    Maybe


    Would you ever listen to anything by Thomas Cahill again?

    maybe


    What didn’t you like about Donal Donnelly’s performance?

    the performance was stiff and slow


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment- I was so looking forward to more history for my course of study


    Any additional comments?

    Listening to "How the Irish Saved Civilization" or watching paint dry?...tough choice

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Card RAMONA, CA, US 01-27-14
    Linda Card RAMONA, CA, US 01-27-14 Member Since 2013

    Booklover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    9
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "Narrator was hard to listen to"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    Has How the Irish Saved Civilization turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No. I just wish that I could preview the narrator before buying.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Both the dramatic and clipped diction and the timbre of his voice were distracting from teh story. This fellow is not a storyteller.


    What character would you cut from How the Irish Saved Civilization?

    Didn't get far enough into it to hear a character.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary WASHINGTONVILLE, NY, United States 12-28-13
    Mary WASHINGTONVILLE, NY, United States 12-28-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Possibly The Worst Book Ever Written"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The Great Courses series never disappoints.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The audio quality was poor.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Annoyance, disappointment.


    Any additional comments?

    DO NOT PURCHASE.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Dunedin, FL, United States 06-24-13
    John Dunedin, FL, United States 06-24-13 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story, distracting narration"
    Would you try another book from Thomas Cahill and/or Donal Donnelly?

    Maybe


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Augustine


    Would you be willing to try another one of Donal Donnelly’s performances?

    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.


    Could you see How the Irish Saved Civilization being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    It would have been nice to have the chapters of the book match the chapters in Audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie 09-13-12
    Julie 09-13-12 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Difficult to enjoy"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Donal Donnelly?

    no


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil Washington, Dc, United States 01-28-12
    Phil Washington, Dc, United States 01-28-12

    Dr. Phil

    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    "Comical performance, arcane subject matter"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia 01-02-12
    Julia 01-02-12 Member Since 2013

    I listen to a lot of audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    93
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    4
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    "Narrator has Marbles in his Mouth?"
    What did you love best about How the Irish Saved Civilization?

    I love this book and have read it before. I thought I would download it to listen to while I'm at work since I enjoyed it so much. The narrator is awful. He reads with a strange slowness and sounds like he has marbles in his mouth, or something...I keep picture him foaming at the mouth. yuk.

    Have Derek Jacobi read this and I'll buy it again.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" Raeford, NC, United States 09-14-11
    "unknown" Raeford, NC, United States 09-14-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Story
    "WHY READ IT"

    I had to read this book for school (UNCP). I think they should sale this at the bookstore.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 01-29-11
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 01-29-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    311
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    Overall
    "Still not sure how they did it"

    The book was an interesting exploration of Roman literature, the life of St Patrick, and monastic life in Ireland, but I am still at a loss as to how exactly he reckons that the Irish saved civilization. Although he stresses that Irish monks travelled widely through Europe in the Dark Ages, the are no concrete examples of texts that are traced from the ancient world through Ireland back to the mainland. There should be dozens of good expamples if his thesis is correct.

    Having also read "Sailing the Wine Dark Sea" it seems like the author's style is very airy and authoritative. He tells you what he thinks about an idea and doesn't feel the need to provide references or detailed proofs. I suppose he is correct about much of what he says, but I can't just take his word for it.

    The writing is interesting and funny, but I also found the narration a bit "Masterpiece Theater" as other reviewers have pointed out.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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