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Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West Paperback – March 28, 2000
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Despite setbacks, the economic "miracles" achieved by many Asian countries in the latter 20th century have been impressive. This entertaining and thoughtful book invites the reader to consider East Asia's other miracle: its dramatically low rates of crime, divorce, drug abuse, and other social ills. T.R. Reid, an NPR commentator and former Tokyo bureau chief for the Washington Post, lived in Japan for five years, and he draws on this experience to show how the countries of East Asia have built modern industrial societies characterized by the safest streets, the best schools, and the most stable families in the world.
Reid credits Asia's success to the ethical values of Chinese philosopher Confucius, born in 551 B.C., who taught the value of harmony and the importance of treating others decently. This is not a new perception--Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and others have rather heavy-handedly invoked it to claim moral superiority over the West--but the author's vivid anecdotes strengthen its relevance. Public messages constantly remind Asian citizens of their responsibilities to society. To enhance a sense of belonging, civic ceremonies encourage individuals' allegiance to a greater good; across Japan, for example, April 1 is Nyu-Sha-Shiki day, when corporations officially welcome new employees, most of whom remain loyal to their company for life. Citing Malaysia's ideas of a "reverse Peace Corps," Reid sees a case for Asians coming to teach the West in the same way that Westerners have evangelized in Asia for over four centuries. --John Stevenson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In this breezy homily, Reid, an NPR commentator who was the Washington Post's Tokyo bureau chief for five years, offers a look at what he calls Asia's "social miracle" (as opposed to its once vaunted economic growth). The nations of East Asia, he reports, have "the safest streets, the strongest families, and the best schools in the world." Along with their enviably low rates of crime, divorce, unwed motherhood and vandalism, countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand boast a burgeoning middle class, a general aura of civility and a more egalitarian distribution of wealth than the U.S. enjoys. Like many other Asia watchers, Reid attributes this social cohesiveness to a shared set of core values?discipline, loyalty, hard work, a focus on education, group harmony, etc.?that he traces back to the Confucian classics. Yet Reid, now the Post's London bureau chief, readily admits that the East Asian model of Confucian prosperity has glaring flaws: most cities he visited were drab and ugly; Singapore is a "self-righteous and thoroughly intolerant place controlled by a small clique." Reid, who transplanted his family of five from a small Colorado town to Tokyo, serves up amusing anecdotes and cross-cultural observations (his two daughters enrolled in a Japanese public school), but his report reads like one long radio spiel and covers well-trod terrain. After gently berating Westerners for more than 200 pages, he gets to eat his rice cake and have it, too: Confucian values and our own Judeo-Christian morality, he concludes, are basically the same, differing mainly in nuance. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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family lives in Japan and the next door little old man is "Confucius" Read it for fun. Read it for history lessons>
Reid became enchanted with Confucius, and my guess is that he had to have missed other factors that contribute to the Asian mind. He glosses over Taoism and Shinto in a few short paragrahs while spending and entire chapter on the history of Confucian thought. Nonetheless, the book managed to be a page turner.
T. R. Reid is a reporter for the Washington Post and a commentator for National Public Radio.