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Download How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Irelands Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe Audiobook, by Thomas Cahill Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00004962595363 out of 53.00004962595363 out of 53.00004962595363 out of 53.00004962595363 out of 53.00004962595363 out of 5 3.00 (13,501 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thomas Cahill Narrator: Donal Donnelly Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Hinges of History Series Release Date: July 2000 ISBN: 9780553750430
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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 Civilizationreconstructs 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Mr. Cahill's book will remain an entirely engaging, delectable voyage into th edistant past, a small treasure. N.Y. Times
  • Lovely and engrossing. L.A. Times
  • 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
  • Cahill's lively prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history. The Boston Globe

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julie | 1/28/2014

    " Christian bias, as is expected, a point about monks preserving roman texts that could have been made in one article. I did learn some from the book, and appreciate hearing about St. Patrick's anti-slavery stance. Still, would appreciate this book to be listed as Christian history, as that's what it seems to be. Esp. considering Cahill's other books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 1/28/2014

    " This book is a must read for anyone who loves books. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dolores | 1/23/2014

    " There might be a slight exageration of history here, but its a great read and left me in tears. My favorite part was when the Romans and the Irish meet... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meg Moseley | 1/15/2014

    " Even if you're not a history buff, you might enjoy this book. It's full of entertaining anecdotes about a fascinating time and place. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Micheal | 1/14/2014

    " This should at best have been an essay. Very disappointing drawn out and unconvincing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Stephanos | 1/8/2014

    " The first in Cahill's Hinges of History series, this book explores the little-known fact that Christian monks in Ireland preserved the great works of Greek and Roman literature in an era when much of the western Roman Empire had lapsed into illiteracy. Later, the books--which were stored in monasteries and libraries across Europe--became the foundation texts of what we now consider Western society. The book's light tone makes it a very easy and quick read, but anyone with a background in this subject area will be disappointed quickly by the book's multiple and egregious historical errors. Muslims and Jews in the East also preserved the books of antiquity, for instance, and who's to say that their copies had less of an influence on the development of "the West" than those of the Irish? Cahill also fundamentally misunderstands (or misrepresents) the relationship between Christianity and Roman society, claiming that Roman society was little changed by Christianity while Irish society was profoundly changed. This is simply not true. Nevertheless, the book is enjoyable and nicely highlights the contributions of Irish women (but not Roman!)--a subject that is perhaps worthy of much fuller exploration. Recommended but with reservations. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renee | 1/2/2014

    " She thinks: Ok, yet again I want to be Irish (no offense to my German, way back Russian?, Scottish & Swedish ancestors). Cahill's writing is very accessible and at times humorous. I got bogged down in the last 2 chapters, kind of lost my interest after Patrick's departure from the narrative. Kept wanting to skip to the conclusion. That was probably more my state of my mind than the quality of writing. Great book, looking forward to reading his others. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pat Donnelly | 12/23/2013

    " The Irish monks wrote everything down. A little tedious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annie | 12/1/2013

    " This was very interesting and enlightening. Toroughly enjoyed it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryan | 9/25/2013

    " st patrick and the monks copied books that help pull europe out of the dark ages (ironically imposed by the catholic church itself). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve St.Claire | 9/18/2013

    " This book is a classic. It is amazing. It makes me want to be Irish. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris Hoffman | 9/9/2013

    " A great discussion of how a small place removed from mainstream Europe was able to preserve some of antiquities most important ideas. And shows how awesome St. Patrick was. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris Whelan | 9/8/2013

    " every idiot with a shamrock tatoo and a 25% irish backround should be forced to read this book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stacy | 8/19/2013

    " My Irish heritage drew me to this book, but the quality of the writing, and the topic held my interest. The idea that Irish monasteries were the only place where many of the great works of history were preserved during the literary devastation of the middle ages. Well worth a read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mardel Fehrenbach | 6/1/2013

    " entertaining and a good, light, introduction to the subject. It served as a bit of a refresher course. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wsprag | 4/2/2013

    " A very good history on the Irish and how they saved civilization by keeping up with scrolls and language after the downfall of the Roman Empire. Very interesting history on an under-rated people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joni | 3/22/2013

    " I read this while in Ireland. It really helped me understand this historical time in Ireland and the history of the church. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julia Gallagher | 11/15/2012

    " I was really looking forward to reading this book. The title grabbed me immediately, and the premise of the book intrigued me. However, I found the execution to be very meandering. There was a lot of material in this popularized history book that seemed unnecessary to move along the topic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alford Wayman | 9/19/2012

    " Another excellent book by Cahill. Gives an overview on the transmission, copying, and preservation of sacred texts at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. Hats off to the Irish! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wilhelm Weber | 7/12/2012

    " Good and easy reading - nearly popular - about Augustine, the Church and Philosophy in the early MA and especially then looking at Ireland and its religious background and development of monasticism there - which was quite different from that of the Roman Church. Easy re "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandy Littell | 4/5/2012

    " Read this book when it first came out....and would happily read it again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel | 3/26/2012

    " This was the second time I read this and I enjoyed it even more this time than the first! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Madelyn | 10/31/2011

    " One of the best books I ever read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dana | 9/24/2011

    " Read my review of How the Irish Saved Civilization . "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bud Smith | 8/27/2011

    " Mythology, Saints, and good humor; this little history book has it all. It should be a prerequisit for anyone reading Angela's Ashes "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 5/4/2011

    " Very interesting book, wish it was longer. Some ideas in my opinion were exaggerated. It is a wonderfully written book, very interesting, very thought provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Okanagan | 4/26/2011

    " An easy non-fiction read about the history of the Irish. Starting with the breakdown of the Roman Empire and its culture, the author walks the reader through the events of the centuries before the onset of the Middle Ages. Informative, scholarly, yet entertaining to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelly | 4/22/2011

    " This is one of the best books I've ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katy Budget Books | 3/18/2011

    " Jonathan's pick.

    Cahill's book was a great insight into the reality of the Middle Ages and the importance of the much overlooked role of the Irish in the preservation of Classical material.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 3/17/2011

    " Listened to this one while commuting. An interesting read and eyeopening about a little know part of our cultural history. The Dark Ages were a scary time...my thanks go out to those Irish Monks for continuing with their craft and education during that period. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Phillip | 3/4/2011

    " Drawn out story that makes a grand conclusion based on scant evidence and even weaker argumentation. Helpful as an introduction to medieval history, I suppose. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mardel | 2/27/2011

    " entertaining and a good, light, introduction to the subject. It served as a bit of a refresher course. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristen | 2/25/2011

    " Fabulous read!! Very entertaining as well as educational. Anyone with an interest in Irish history, Ireland, Celtic peoples history in general will enjoy this read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 2/23/2011

    " awesome bit of church history that is often overlooked "

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About the Author
Author Thomas CahillTHOMAS CAHILL is the author of the best-selling books, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland 's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels, and Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus.  These books comprise the first three volumes of a prospective seven-volume series entitled "The Hinges of History," in which Cahill recounts formative moments in Western civilization. In "The Hinges of History," Thomas Cahill endeavors to retell the story of the Western World through little-known stories of the great gift-givers, people who contributed immensely to Western, culture and the evolution of Western sensibility, thus revealing how we have become the people we are and why we think and feel the way we do today.
About the Narrator

Donal Donnelly is an Irish-born film and stage actor who trained at Dublin’s Gate Theatre and later joined the world-famous Abbey Theatre. In addition to playing numerous roles on Broadway and in films, he has established himself as a first-rate narrator. Known for his inspired interpretations of James Joyce, his spirited, lyrical delivery has made him a favorite among listeners.