Thursday, March 13, 2008

The latest book I finished is How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill, the first in a series he is calling "The Hinges of History".

How the Irish Saved Civilization, or HISC for short, is a well-written and engaging book but short on actual meat to back the argument. The synopsis is that after the fall of Rome, the monks in Ireland were an important group that preserved and copied a lot of classical manuscripts, allowing them to survive and to influence the societies that would follow.

There is not much argument in the book beyond that simple statement. In fact, the first 2/3rds of the book don't even get to this thesis - instead it describes what was at risk of being lost in the civilization of the Roman world, what the Celtic culture was like in Ireland before Patrick converted the island and how Patrick and the Irish monks that followed him converted Ireland and created a variant version of Catholicism that lasted until the Roman version spread to Ireland through Europe.

The section of the book dealing with the actual thesis is quite short and doesn't really give a lot of evidence or theories relating to the thesis. It just restates it and moves quickly to the close of the book.

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