Born Again
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"Born Again" Summary

By Charles W. Colson

biography | 351 pages | Published in NaN

Born Again is the autobiography of one of the most influential men of our time. It is not only a remarkable story of one man's redemption in Christ, but a fascinating look inside the events of one of our generation's most riveting sagas. In 1974 Charles W. Colson pleaded guilty to Watergate-related offenses and, after a tumultuous investigation, served seven months in prison. In his search for meaning and purpose in the face of the Watergate scandal, Colson penned Born Again. This unforgettable memoir shows a man who, seeking fulfillment in success and power, found it, paradoxically, in national disgrace and prison. In the decades since its initial publication, Born Again has brought hope and encouragement to millions. This remarkable story of new life continues to influence lives around the world through a dozen foreign editions.


Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

A powerful memoir of political insider turned prison minister Charles Colson's journey from Watergate conspirator to devoted Christian.


In "Born Again," Charles W. Colson takes readers on a riveting journey through his personal transformation from a powerful political operative to a convicted felon to a committed follower of Jesus Christ. This memoir, published in 1976, provides a captivating account of Colson's life, including his involvement in the Watergate scandal and his subsequent spiritual awakening. With honesty and humility, Colson shares his struggles, insights, and ultimate redemption, offering readers a powerful testament to the transforming power of faith.

Brief Synopsis

Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous political landscape of the 1970s, "Born Again" recounts the life of Charles Colson, a high-ranking White House advisor to President Richard Nixon. The story begins with Colson's ambitious rise to power and influence in Washington D.C., where he is known for his tough and often ruthless approach to politics. However, his life takes a dramatic turn when he becomes entangled in the Watergate scandal, leading to his conviction for obstruction of justice.

While serving his prison sentence, Colson experiences a profound spiritual awakening. Through the influence of a friend and a series of encounters with Christian literature, Colson begins to question his values and beliefs. Eventually, he surrenders his life to Christ, and this transformative experience shapes the rest of his life.

Main Characters

Charles ColsonThe author and protagonist of the memoir, a former White House advisor and convicted felon
Richard NixonThe 37th President of the United States, under whose administration the Watergate scandal occurred
Tom PhillipsA close friend and colleague of Colson, who introduces him to Christian literature and plays a significant role in his spiritual journey
Martha ColsonCharles Colson's wife, who supports him throughout his personal and spiritual transformation
E. Howard HuntA former CIA officer and one of the key figures in the Watergate scandal

Summary of Story Points

Chapter 1: From the White House to the Jailhouse

In this chapter, Colson provides an overview of his rise to power in Washington D.C. and his role as special counsel to President Nixon. He also introduces the events that led to the Watergate scandal and his subsequent arrest and conviction.

Chapter 2: The Collapse

Colson delves deeper into the Watergate scandal, detailing his involvement in the cover-up and the subsequent unraveling of the Nixon administration. He reflects on the moral compromises he made during this time and the consequences that followed.

Chapter 3: The Dark Night of the Soul

Imprisoned and facing the reality of life behind bars, Colson experiences a crisis of faith. He wrestles with guilt, shame, and a sense of hopelessness. It is during this dark period that he begins to question his own values and the meaning of life.

Chapter 4: Light Shines in the Darkness

A chance encounter with Tom Phillips, a former colleague, leads Colson to explore Christianity. Through reading C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" and engaging in conversations with Phillips, Colson starts to see the possibility of a new life and a personal relationship with Christ.

Chapter 5: A New Beginning

Colson's encounter with Jesus Christ leads to a radical transformation. He experiences forgiveness, begins to embrace a life of service, and seeks to make amends for his past wrongdoings. Colson starts a prison ministry and eventually founds Prison Fellowship, an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of prisoners.

Main Events

  1. Colson's rise to power and his role in the Nixon administration.
  2. The Watergate scandal and Colson's involvement in the cover-up.
  3. Colson's arrest, conviction, and imprisonment.
  4. Colson's crisis of faith and search for meaning while in prison.
  5. Colson's encounter with Christianity through Tom Phillips and C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity."
  6. Colson's transformation and commitment to a life of faith and service.
  7. The founding of Prison Fellowship and Colson's advocacy for prison reform.

Themes and Insights

  • The power of redemption and second chances: Colson's journey from a convicted felon to a committed Christian highlights the transformative power of faith and the possibility of redemption, regardless of one's past actions.
  • The dangers of moral compromise: Colson's involvement in the Watergate scandal serves as a cautionary tale, emphasizing the importance of maintaining integrity and ethical principles, even in the face of political power.
  • The significance of personal responsibility: Colson's willingness to take responsibility for his actions and seek forgiveness demonstrates the importance of owning up to one's mistakes and working towards reconciliation.
  • The role of faith in personal transformation: Colson's spiritual awakening serves as a powerful example of how faith can bring about profound change and provide meaning and purpose in life.

Reader's Takeaway

"Born Again" is a compelling memoir that offers readers a unique perspective on the Watergate scandal and its aftermath. Through Colson's personal journey, readers are reminded of the power of redemption and the transformative nature of faith. This gripping account encourages self-reflection and challenges readers to consider the role of ethics, personal responsibility, and spirituality in their own lives.


"Born Again" is Charles W. Colson's captivating memoir, chronicling his journey from a powerful political operative to a convicted felon to a committed Christian. Against the backdrop of the Watergate scandal and his subsequent spiritual awakening, Colson's story serves as a testament to the transformative power of faith and the possibility of redemption. Through his honest and introspective narrative, Colson invites readers to reflect on their own values, choices, and the role of faith in personal transformation.

Born Again FAQ

  1. What is 'Born Again' about?

    'Born Again' is a memoir written by Charles W. Colson, where he shares his personal journey from being a powerful political figure to becoming a committed Christian.

  2. Who is Charles W. Colson?

    Charles W. Colson was a former special counsel to President Richard Nixon and a central figure in the Watergate scandal. After his conversion to Christianity, he founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to helping prisoners and their families.

  3. What inspired Charles W. Colson to write 'Born Again'?

    Charles W. Colson was inspired to write 'Born Again' to share his experience of spiritual transformation and to encourage others to consider the transformative power of faith.

  4. Is 'Born Again' a religious book?

    Yes, 'Born Again' is a religious book. It explores Charles W. Colson's journey of faith and his perspective on the importance of spiritual transformation.

  5. Is 'Born Again' only for Christians?

    While 'Born Again' is written from a Christian perspective, it can be appreciated by readers of different faith backgrounds or those interested in personal transformation stories.

  6. Are there any other books by Charles W. Colson?

    Yes, Charles W. Colson has written several other books, including 'Loving God,' 'The Good Life,' and 'How Now Shall We Live?'

  7. Can 'Born Again' be helpful for someone going through a difficult time?

    Yes, 'Born Again' can be helpful for someone going through a difficult time as it offers insights into finding hope, purpose, and redemption in challenging circumstances.

  8. Is 'Born Again' a best-selling book?

    Yes, 'Born Again' became a best-selling book and has had a significant impact on many readers since its publication.

  9. Can I find 'Born Again' in ebook format?

    Yes, 'Born Again' is available in ebook format, allowing readers to access it digitally on various devices.

  10. Is there a movie adaptation of 'Born Again'?

    No, there is no movie adaptation of 'Born Again' at this time.