Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West

Posted by nliakos on June 27, 2008

by T. R. Reid.  Random House, 1999.

I might have rephrased the subtitle of this fascinating book as “What Living in the East Teaches Us in the West About Living.”  Reid’s thesis is that the teachings of Kung Fu-Tzu (Confucius, or “the Master Kung”) still permeate the societies of Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, and to some extent other nations in the area; that Confucius’ theories about how to create and maintain a civil society are actively taught to the citizens of these countries; that they explain the “social miracle” of low crime rates, stellar schools and stable families; and that Confucian values are in essence not different from Western values.  We are taught the same thing, but we don’t seem to learn the lessons very well, or apply them in our daily lives.

T. R. Reid, the Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tokyo for five years, is said to be fluent in Japanese and is a keen observer of Japanese society and culture (as well as the cultures of many of the other Asian countries he writes about–but since his expertise is in Japan, most of his examples are Japanese).  The book is a good read, well-organized (but slightly repetitious) and easy to understand.  It would be an excellent choice for Asian EFL/ESL students and would give anyone much food for thought.


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