Racing Odysseus: A College President Becomes a Freshman Again / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.85
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 83%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $3.85   
  • New (5) from $17.10   
  • Used (6) from $3.85   


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.

About the Author
ROGER H. MARTIN is Professor of History Emeritus and past president at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Alternately amusing and poignant, Martin's personal epic offers a much-needed perspective on cultural dilemmas both ancient and modern.
Library Journal

In his engaging memoir, Martin (history, emeritus, former president, Randolph-Macon Coll.) examines a number of experiences uncommon to 61-year-old college presidents. On a sabbatical after horrific treatments for cancer, he enrolled as a freshman at St. John's College in Maryland, studied classics, joined the crew team, prepared for a major race, and learned to connect with his 18-year-old classmates. He notes the follies of the students, as well as his own, and offers perceptive and affectionate insights into the challenges of growing up in today's complicated world. Education is his profession, and as he carefully observes the impact of the Great Books curriculum at St. John's, he sees the relevance of the Greek classics to our own time, from family relations, to the arrogance of leaders in wartime, to the value of truth and justice. He reaffirms his conviction that the liberal arts and sciences, with their emphasis on learning how to reason logically and morally, to think analytically, and to live as good citizens, are the most effective preparation for life as well as for multiple careers. In leaving his comfortable life as a successful college president, he shows that it is possible even in one's sixties to learn something new and to envision the future. Highly recommended for general libraries.
—Elizabeth R. Hayford

Times Literary Supplement (TLS) - Peter Green
“An extraordinary memoir.”
Booklist - Bryce Christensen
“Alternately amusing and poignant, Martin’s personal epic offers a much-needed perspective on cultural dilemmas both ancient and modern.”
Providence Journal - Luther Spoehr
“An understated, engaging memoir.”
Change Magazine - Mary Taylor Huber
“Racing Odysseus is not your typical college president’s memoir.”
The Australian
“An extraordinary memoir. . . . An enthusiastic, breathless and oddly innocent narrative. . . . A welcome reminder of what real Western education . . . is about.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520265875
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 1/18/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger H. Martin is Professor of History Emeritus and past president at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1 Orientation (Four Years Later) 4

2 Hubris 32

3 Homesickness 58

4 Dysfunctional Families 92

5 Navy 130

6 Old Farts 169

7 Community 194

8 Victory 230

Epilogue 252

Bibliography 261

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)