Saturday, March 17, 2007
A St. Patrick's Day Book Selection: How the Irish Saved Civilization
Because I have a little Irish in my blood (my maternal Grandfather was Irish), I thought I would pull a book off my library shelf that has contributed to my knowledge of the Celtic culture. It is entitled How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. This book is not fresh in my mind~~I read it several years back, but I still remember the horrific description of the fall of Rome. And along with that fall came the endangerment of Greek and Roman learning. Cahill's premise is that the Irish monks "saved" civilization by obtaining, preserving, and copying many precious and irreplaceable historical documents. The book has been accused of being "light" on history, but I enjoyed reading it. The premise that the Irish actually saved civilization is probably overstated; no doubt there were many other people groups who also contributed greatly to the preservation of knowledge. But I thought Cahill did a good job of humanizing the monks and giving them some of the credit for reintroducing culture and literacy back to the main continent. If you like to take little side trips into history, this one is is anything but boring.