“Wherever they went the Irish brought with them their books, many unseen in Europe for centuries …”
When Rome fell, the world was on the verge of losing more than just a stable civilization – it was about to lose knowledge. Books were casualties of war. Yet, a few key events helped keep the stories preserved for future generations and it is mostly thank to the people of Ireland and the spread of Christianity. For a brief but important part of history, Ireland was the hope of mankind and literature.
I try to read non-fiction and history books after reading a few fiction books. I love reading for reading, but I also love learning while I read. A friend of mine recommended Thomas Cahill, so I went to see what was available at the library. How the Irish Saved Civilization sounded very interesting and it’s his first in a series called the Hinges of History. I only had to wait a few weeks for the ebook to become available through Overdrive.
When St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, the conversions happened without martyrs. Many combined their Celtic beliefs with their new Christian beliefs. It was a peaceful time. A “green martyrdom” happened where people would go off and become monks and live by themselves, except for gathering for prayers. These monks would copy books when they weren’t praying and wrote down many of Irish and Roman stories. Ireland was eventually attacked by Vikings, who destroyed many books, but before that monks from Ireland traveled throughout the rest of Europe with their books, giving the world access to what had been lost at the fall of Rome.
Lovers of history will really enjoy this book. I learned things I had never heard of before regarding this time period. Cahill’s writing style is full of facts, but not dry. While middle schoolers might have a hard time staying interested, high school readers and older would be able to stay focused on the history presented in this book. I plan to read the rest of the books in the series during the next year or two.