Confucius: The Golden Rule

by Russell Freedman

Other authorsFrederic Clement (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2002



Call number

921 CON

Call number

921 CON

Local notes

921 CON




Arthur A. Levine Books (2002), Edition: 1, 48 pages


Tells the life history of philosopher Confucius who lived 2,500 years ago. His words of wisdom are still alive and influential today. Born in China in 551 B.C., Confucius rose from poverty to the heights of his country's ruling class. But then he quit his high post for the life of an itinerant philosopher. "The Analects" collects his teachings on education and government, the definition of nobility, the equality of man, and the right way and purpose of living - ideas that eventually spread to the West and influenced the great thinkers of the Enlightenment. And five centuries before Christ, Confucius set forth his own Golden Rule: "Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself."


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

48 p.; 10.29 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member perihan
I think the author, Russell Freedman, wrote this book to let his audience know that Confucius was more than a man that is portrayed in the Western world. He was a man of vision and humanity, he was the man we modeled our ideals after, but he was not a crazy man. Confucius was Russell Freedman’s
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first Asian subject that he wrote about. He visited China and the places where Confucius left his philosophy behind even 2,500 years after his death, and he grew great respect for his subject of his book.
The name Confucius was given to him when Jesuit missionaries visited China in the 16th century, but his real name was Kong Qiu. His father died when he was three years old. He was poor growing up. At the age of twenty-one he got married and had two children. He loved to read books and he would spent time searching for books in literature and history during his visits to larger cities. Confucius did not like how China was ruled. It was not the same peaceful and unified land that it once was, but now it was only the rich who had the power to rule China. Voting was not even thought of at that time, which bothered Confucius greatly. He wanted people to have a choice on who will run their land. He wanted to work for the government to make changes. He never had the opportunity to advance in higher positions except for small government jobs where he had no influence. He traveled everywhere and talked to people about living life to its fullest potentials and about the unfair ruling of the government. He became a teacher to many and was not afraid to speak his mind. He had many people listen to what he had to say everywhere he went. His philosophy was well respected and shared by many. He died when he was seventy-two years old. His teachings still continues today and influences our way of life. One of my favorite Confucius sayings is, “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself”. This saying has passed through many generations and continents, and still continues as one of the most important slogans of our time.
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LibraryThing member Chandra672
This book is definitely a bit on the long side, and might be too long for elementary students to read on their own for doing a biography assignment on Confucius. However, I think that there is definitely some information that is useful in this book if the teacher were to read it to the students.
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This book has some nuggets of information that might be powerful to students.
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LibraryThing member Ms.Penniman
Retelling: Over 2,500 years ago, before the invention of paper, a man named Confucius became the inspiration for Chinese Legends about his teachings. The closest resource we have to knowing the truth about his story is his own collection of conversations that in English is called the Analects. His
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conversations with students of all sorts are filled with humor, wit, and wisdom.

Thoughts and Feelings: There are a lot of quotes in this book that I'd like to remember, but the two that stand out to me personally are these:

"Study as if you never know enough, as if you're afraid of losing what you've already gained."

"Young people should not be taken lightly. How do you know that they will not one day be better than you?"

I admire how he welcomed criticism and invited argument.
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LibraryThing member ALelliott
This short, illustrated work depicts Confucius's life mostly as a series of conversations between Confucius and his scholar-disciples. It is not very descriptive, but it provides a lot of historical context to Confucius's teachings. The books does explain in the introduction that not much is known
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of Confucius's life, and what we do know mostly comes from The Aspects of Confucius, his scholar's writings, and oral history. Still, the lack of action made this a not-so-interesting entry.

The book is fairly linear, from Confucius's humble birth to his death to his influence after his death, but there is a large section about Confucius's version of the golden rule: “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself." It would be interesting for kids to analyze the ideas and philosophies found in the book, and compare them to their own beliefs. The author describes how many of his ideas were quite revolutionary for their time, but many children would recognize in them the founding ideas of modern democracies.

For ages 9-13.
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LibraryThing member cjohn64
This book on Confucius was also a good introduction to his life like the book on Socrates but this book is shorter than and not as detailed as Socrates’. This mostly seems due to the audience this books panders to which is a little younger than the other one. The book gives a lot of his analects
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as the story progresses through his life. I read this book mostly to get an introduction to him and his analects so I could use the information in a civics or law studies class like for Socrates. The book tells a good chronological account of his life. The book gives a lot of quotes and reflections by his pupils on the man’s actions through his life. What is interesting is that both of them lived around the same time and both were very similar and somewhat different. I think this book and the one on Socrates would be a great addition to classes on government.
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LibraryThing member laurlou
This is the story is about the life and history of Confucius. The tale covers his lifespan, his beliefs and teachings.
LibraryThing member raizel
Nice, basic introduction to the life of Confucius, who lived about 2,500 years ago. Some of his sayings are shown on the inside covers of the book. (Confucius is the Latin name the Jesuits gave to Kongfuzi, or Master Kong.)
He had ideas about how government should work, but could not find anyone in
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China willing to implement them. ("What is the purpose of government? It is to promote the welfare and happiness of the people --- all the people." [p.15]) He did succeed in introducing civil service exams for aspiring government officials. And his ideas about rulers requiring "the consent of the governed"---Thomas Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence---influenced people in Europe and America when the Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century translated Confucius's sayings into The Analects of Confucius.
When asked for a "single word to guide a person's entire life ... Confucius replied, 'Perhaps it is shu,' a word that means 'compassion,' 'open-heartedness,' or 'caring for others.' Then he went on to explain: 'Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.' Five centuries later, Jesus taught the Golden Rule with similar words: 'In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.'" [p. 30] But of course, these two Golden Rules are not the same.
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(14 ratings; 4.1)
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