THE BOOK OF KELLS: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College Dublin by Bernard Meehan (Thames & Hudson: $19.95; 96 pp.). One of the treasures of Medieval civilization, the Book of Kells was created between 7th and 9th centuries, the apex of Irish monastic culture. The text seems to swim in a dazzlingly intricate sea of knots, swirls and symbolic animals. The unmatched beauty of these complex illuminations led the 11th-Century author of the Annals of Ulster to describe the manuscript as primh-mind iarthair domain, "the most precious object in the western world." The learned text and elegant reproductions offer modern readers an introduction to this exceptional work of art.