Thomas Cahill

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Thomas Cahill (born 1940 in New York City) is an American scholar and writer. He is best known for The Hinges of History series, a prospective seven-volume series in which the author recounts formative moments in Western civilization.


Born in New York City to Irish-American parents and raised in Queens and the Bronx Cahill studied ancient Greek and Latin at Regis High School in Manhattan.[1] He continued his study of Greek and Latin literature, as well as medieval philosophy, scripture, and theology, at Fordham University, where he completed a B.A. in classical literature and philosophy in 1964, and a pontifical degree in philosophy in 1965. He went on to complete his M.F.A. in film and dramatic literature at Columbia University in 1968.

In anticipation of writing The Gifts of the Jews, Cahill studied scripture at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and spent two years as a Visiting Scholar at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where he studied Hebrew and the Hebrew Bible. He also reads French and Italian. In 1999, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Alfred University in New York. Cahill has been a contributor to Irish America magazine.

Cahill has taught at Queens College, Fordham University, and Seton Hall University; served as the North American education correspondent for the Times of London, and was for many years a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Prior to retiring to writing full-time, he was the director of religious publishing at Doubleday for six years. He and his wife, Susan, also an author, divide their time between New York and Rome.

Cahill's book, A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green, is a departure from The Hinges of History series. It is both the story of Dominique Green, a young man from Houston who was on Death Row in Texas, and of the effect that knowing him had on Cahill. Arrested at age eighteen in the fatal shooting of a man during a robbery outside a Houston convenience store, Green acknowledged he took part in the robbery but insisted he did not pull the trigger. Cahill first heard about Green from Judge Sheila Murphy who was working on the appeal of the case. She requested that he visit Green, which he did in December 2003. So impressed was Cahill with Green that he joined the ultimately-unsuccessful fight for Green's life, even enlisting Green's hero, Desmond Tutu, to make a historic visit to Dominique and to plead publicly for mercy. Green was executed at the age of 30 on October 26, 2004, after spending twelve years on Death Row.[2] Green made a final statement before his execution: "There was a lot of people that got me to this point and I can't thank them all. But thank you for your love and support. They have allowed me to do a lot more than I could have on my own. I have overcome a lot. I am not angry but I am disappointed that I was denied justice. But I am happy that I was afforded you all as family and friends. I love you all. Please just keep the struggle going. I am just sorry and I am not as strong as I thought I was going to be. But I guess it only hurts for a little while. You are all my family. Please keep my memory alive."[3]


  • Big City Stories by Modern American Writers, with Susan Cahill, Bantam, 1971
  • A Literary Guide to Ireland, with Susan Cahill, Scribner, 1973
  • Looking for Books: How to Find Hard-to-Find Books, Ampersand, 1988
  • Jesus' Little Instruction Book, Bantam, 1994
  • Pope John XXIII, Viking, 2002
  • A Saint on Death Row, from Nan A. Talese/Random House, March 2009
The Hinges of History Series
  • How the Irish Saved Civilization, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1995
  • The Gifts of the Jews, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1998
  • Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 1999
  • Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2003
  • Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2006; some printings are called Mysteries of the Middle Ages: And the Beginnings of the Modern World
  • Heretics and Heroes: Ego in the Renaissance and the Reformation (2013)


  1. ^ Bernstein, Elizabeth (March 16, 1998). "Thomas Cahill: Saving History, Book by Book". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  2. ^ "A Conversation with Thomas Cahill, author of A SAINT ON DEATH ROW: The Story of Dominique Green". Random House. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  3. ^ "Dominique Jerome Green". Retrieved 29 July 2016.

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