The idea of reliving youth is a common fantasy, but who among us is actually courageous enough to try it? After surviving a deadly cancer against tremendous odds, college president Roger H. Martin did just that—he enrolled at St. John's College, the Great Books school in Annapolis, Maryland, as a sixty-one-year-old freshman. This engaging, often humorous memoir of his semester at St. John's tells of his journey of discovery as he falls in love again with Plato, Socrates, and Homer, improbably joins the college crew team, and negotiates friendships across generational divides. Along the way, Martin ponders one of the most pressing questions facing education today: do the liberal arts still have a role to play in a society that seems to value professional, vocational, and career training above all else? Elegantly weaving together the themes of the great works he reads with events that transpire on the water, in the coffee shop, and in the classroom, Martin finds that a liberal arts education may be more vital today than ever before. This is the moving story of a man who faces his fears, fully embraces his second chance, and in turn rediscovers the gifts of life and learning.
1. Orientation (Four Years Later)
4. Dysfunctional Families
6. Old Farts
Roger H. Martin is Professor of History Emeritus and past president at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.
“I think this is a very good book indeed: extremely readable with a very human story to tell (about the author's journey to rediscover himself and education after facing imminent death) and a message to send (about the role of the liberal arts in our lives as well as our education). Martin employs compelling references to and quotations from the classical texts he read in the St. John's freshman seminar: this is not heavy-handed 'you should read Aeschylus if you want to call yourself educated' stuff, but rather the humble confession of a humanist who knows one is never too old, educated, or experienced to learn something new or again. And that is a message that will always be valuable.”—Loren J. Samons II, author of What's Wrong with Democracy: From Athenian Practice to American Worship
"Roger Martin has created a riveting narrative of his confrontation with mortality, and, in that encounter, a testimonial to the enduring value of liberal education."—Douglas W. Foard, Executive Secretary (ret.) of Phi Beta Kappa