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How the Irish Saved Civilization Audiobook

How the Irish Saved Civilization

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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

3.7 (516 )
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3.9 (246 )
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3.7 (249 )
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Performance
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  •  
    K. Furr 08-06-15
    K. Furr 08-06-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Intolerable reading performance"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    This reader (Donnally) is absolutely atrocious. I just started the book today and I'm probably going to bail out. Wasted credit. He sounds like a parody of some 80-year old British schoolmaster you'd see in a 1980s music video. Truly awful and badly over-acted. Furthermore the sound quality sounds like you dug an overused vinyl record out of the landfill. A real shame because I've been wanting to read Cahill's book for a long time. I can't image what the producers were thinking hiring this guy.


    Any additional comments?

    I suggest, before you waste a credit you'd better listen hard to the sample to see if you can tolerate several hours of this knucklehead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Logical Paradox 07-29-15 Member Since 2009

    Irrational, but True

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    "Ireland in the Context of Western European History"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    H. G. Bedell 05-15-15

    HGBooks

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    "title is very misleading"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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,


    Would you ever listen to anything by Thomas Cahill again?

    not without more research to find out what the book was really about


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John White TN USA 03-19-15
    John White TN USA 03-19-15 Member Since 2014
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    "We're all Irish at heart"

    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.

    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.

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    "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 2016

    Booklover

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
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    "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 2016
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    "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
  •  
    frankie 03-13-13
    frankie 03-13-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How Cahill bored millions"
    What disappointed you about How the Irish Saved Civilization?

    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.


    What three words best describe Donal Donnelly’s performance?

    Okay. Many words not pronounced as American would. Many names of the ancient writes are not what Americans would recognize due to pronunciation.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from How the Irish Saved Civilization?

    All


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie 09-13-12
    Julie 09-13-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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

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