Elderberrywine's Reviews > How the Irish Saved Civilization

How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
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's review
Jun 21, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: library

I am very much enjoying this series by Cahill - the second one is on its way to me now. Cahill's premise is that most histories are written as a series of wars and catastrophes, but he would rather look for:
the narratives of grace, the recountings of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required by circumstance.

These are what he calls the "hinges of history" and this book, the first of the series, is the story of the extraordinary circumstances under which a group of monks, in relatively peaceful Ireland, become infatuated by the copying of texts as the old Roman Empire falls. Since they were not allied with the powerful local secular interests (there really weren't any to speak of), they were less concerned with judging the validity of the texts, and rather just laid their hands on everything (Christian and pre-Christian Latin, Greek, some Hebrew, and their own vernacular lays and poems). A fascinating tale, written in a lively manner. The pictures and side comments on some of these texts are just delightful. I might add that the author might be a wee bit biased, but forgivably so.

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