How the Irish Saved Civilization
People of the Past lecture by Thomas Cahill at AUC
Author of The New York Times bestseller How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill lectured on the AUC campus on Close Encounters with the People of the Past. Cahill is the author of 10 books, including his most recent publications, Mysteries of the Middle Ages: And the Beginning of the Modern World and A Saint on Death Row.
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.