Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thomas Cahill's 'How the Irish Saved Civilization': an Amazon review

"This book came out in 1995. And I've avoided it since then.

I was wrong.

I'd been told the book is superficial. It is: any book of this length that tries to cover a subject of the length and breadth here is sure to be superficial.

And perhaps superficial is too harsh. "A good overview" might be a better way of describing it.

But this is an engaging, entertaining read. I found myself drawn into a subject I knew little about, the history, people, culture and faith of Ireland and the Celts. For those wanting more background, Cahill provides a useful bibliography at the end. Those wishing for more than this overview can find years of study in the books recommended in the bibliography.

An overview gets us started. It's not where we should stop, but it provides a means of seeing the big picture, and understanding how to fit in the necessary minutiae of history. This book is that good beginning for understand how the Irish were the bookmeisters at the end of the Roman empire."

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