Roosevelt Montás with Dan-el Padilla Peralta at The StrandRescuing Socrates


Join us for an in-person event with author and senior lecturer Roosevelt Montás for the launch of his new book Rescuing Socrates.

About this event

Join us for an in-person event with author and senior lecturer at Columbia University Roosevelt Montás for the launch of his new book Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation. Joining Roosevelt in conversation will be associate professor at Princeton University Dan-el Padilla Peralta. This event will be hosted in the Strand Book Store’s 3rd floor Rare Book Room at 828 Broadway on 12th Street.

Can’t make the event? Purchase a signed copy of the book here.



In-person events will be presented to a fully vaccinated audience. All patrons over the age of sixteen will be required to show proof* of having completed the COVID-19 vaccination series at least 14 days prior to the date of the event. New York State has now clarified that a child up to the age of 16 who is unvaccinated and accompanied by a vaccinated adult may, in fact, attend events that otherwise are open only to people who are vaccinated. In such an event, the child will not need to be socially distanced, but they will need to wear masks at all times while attending the event.

*Proof of vaccination will be defined as either an original vaccination card or an Excelsior Pass. We will be checking to ensure compliance with the 14 day waiting period post-vaccination.

For contact tracing purposes, buyers must submit the following information at checkout for each attendee in the attending pod: Full Name, Address, Date of Birth, Email Address, and Phone Number. Registration will be required online. No tickets for entry will be sold at the door


A Dominican-born academic tells the story of how the Great Books transformed his life—and why they have the power to speak to people of all backgrounds

What is the value of a liberal education? Traditionally characterized by a rigorous engagement with the classics of Western thought and literature, this approach to education is all but extinct in American universities, replaced by flexible distribution requirements and ever-narrower academic specialization. Many academics attack the very idea of a Western canon as chauvinistic, while the general public increasingly doubts the value of the humanities. In Rescuing Socrates, Dominican-born American academic Roosevelt Montás tells the story of how a liberal education transformed his life, and offers an intimate account of the relevance of the Great Books today, especially to members of historically marginalized communities.

Montás emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Queens, New York, when he was twelve and encountered the Western classics as an undergraduate in Columbia University’s renowned Core Curriculum, one of America’s last remaining Great Books programs. The experience changed his life and determined his career—he went on to earn a PhD in English and comparative literature, serve as director of Columbia’s Center for the Core Curriculum, and start a Great Books program for low-income high school students who aspire to be the first in their families to attend college.

Weaving together memoir and literary reflection, Rescuing Socrates describes how four authors—Plato, Augustine, Freud, and Gandhi—had a profound impact on Montás’ life. In doing so, the book drives home what it’s like to experience a liberal education—and why it can still remake lives.

Roosevelt Montás is the author of Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation (Princeton UP, 2021), and senior lecturer at Columbia University’s Center for American Studies and director of its Freedom and Citizenship Program, which introduces low-income high school students to the Western political tradition through the study of foundational texts. From 2008 to 2018, he was director of Columbia’s Center for the Core Curriculum. He lives in New York City.

Dan-el Padilla Peralta is associate professor of classics at Princeton University. He is the author of Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League (Penguin Random House, 2015) and Divine Institutions: Religions and Community in the Middle Roman Republic (Princeton UP, 2020), and the coeditor of Rome, Empire of Plunder: The Dynamics of Cultural Appropriation (Cambridge UP, 2017).