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Thomas Cahill
Thomas Cahill, photo by Robin Holland
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November 9, 2007

Thomas Cahill is dedicated to discovering what makes a civilization, and what makes a civilization influential — for good or for ill. He has documented the golden age of Greece, the world of ancient Jews, and Irish monks of the Middle Ages. Cahill doesn't focus on the usual big names in history saying: "I'm not really interested in Alexander the Great or Napoleon. Every once in a while there's a general or political in one of my books. But he doesn't stay around for very long." Now Cahill has turned his attention to some of the most contentious issues contemporary American society:

"All societies have a dream and a nightmare. And our nightmare has been, I think, our racism. We practically committed genocide on the people who were here, the Native Americans. We enslaved another race of people, the Africans. And then we dropped the atom bomb on Asians. We would have never dropped that bomb in Europe in my view. And I think that's what proves the racism of it. That's the nightmare of America.

The dream is just the opposite. The dream is that there is no country on earth that has tried to actually embrace all the people that we have tried to embrace. All you have to do is walk through New York City to see that — or any of our cities and not a few of our countrysides at this point."-- Thomas Cahill

Thomas Cahill is the author of the best-selling books, HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF IRELAND'S HEROIC ROLE FROM THE FALL OF ROME TO THE RISE OF MEDIEVAL EUROPE; THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS: HOW A TRIBE OF DESERT NOMADS CHANGED THE WAY EVERYONE THINKS AND FEELS; DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS: THE WORLD BEFORE AND AFTER JESUS; SAILING THE WINE-DARK SEA: WHY THE GREEKS MATTER, AND MOST RECENTLY MYSTERIES OF THE MIDDLE AGES: THE RISE OF FEMINISM, SCIENCE, and ART FROM THE CULTS OF CATHOLIC EUROPE. These five books comprise Volumes I, II, III,IV, and V respectively of THE HINGES OF HISTORY, a prospective seven-volume series in which the author recounts formative moments in Western civilization.

In THE HINGES OF HISTORY, Thomas Cahill endeavors to retell the story of the Western world through little-known stories of individuals who had pivotal impacts on history and contributed immensely to Western culture and the evolution of Western sensibility, thus revealing how we have become the people we are and why we think and feel the way we do today.

Published on November 9, 2007

Guest photo by Robin Holland

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References and Reading:
Thomas Cahill: The Official Site
Thomas Cahill's official site from Random House contains a wealth of information: reading guides, a Q and A with the author, essays on some of the "hinges of history" and a photo essay from his most recent title, MYSTERIES OF THE MIDDLE AGES. You can also hear Cahill sing a medieval Christmas carol.

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Listen to a selection from Cahill's best-selling book read by Donal Donnelly.

Thomas Cahill, NEW YORK TIMES
Read op-eds by Cahill and reviews of all his books from this collection of articles from THE NEW YORK TIMES.

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David Gergen talks with Thomas Cahill about his book THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS.

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