How the Irish Saved Civilization

  • by Thomas Cahill
  • Narrated by Liam Neeson
  • 3 hrs and 4 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"Liam Neeson's rich, smooth voice delineates each element of political, religious, and cultural alliance." (AudioFile)
"Cahill's lovely prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history." (The Los Angeles Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Audio Quality So Bad I Can't Listen

What disappointed you about How the Irish Saved Civilization?

I love Liam Neeson; I love Thomas Cahill's writing. But the audio was SO distracting I could not listen past the first 20 minutes. I thought it might improve, but it did not. It sounded as though Neilsen was rocking back and forth, toward the mic and away from it, as if he were stoned or high. I assume that's not the case because the sound engineers would have compensated for that.


What was one of the most memorable moments of How the Irish Saved Civilization?

I don't know; I couldn't stand to finish it. I will read the paperback I have tucked away in my bedside table.


What does Liam Neeson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He's Irish.


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I won't know until I READ it so I won't have to abide this horrid audio quality. It's an affront to Neeson and Cahill.


Any additional comments?

I am returning this book.

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- Coffeeiv

Great story...too bad you couldn't hear it clearly

What disappointed you about How the Irish Saved Civilization?

I love the book, love the history, love the story, and of course, love the narrator (Liam Neeson)... but the audio quality of the recording was so horrible!!! Very difficult to understand, especially when played over my car's speakers through the AUX. Other audible selections have no problems whatsoever with that. But this one was ghastly. I spent so much time trying to make the audio understandable, I missed half the telling of it. What a shame. :-(


Would you be willing to try another one of Liam Neeson’s performances?

YES! But ONLY on a better quality recording!!!


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration... that I could not hear it clearly.


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- Kimmie Mc

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-22-2001
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio