Press Release: Lives of Confucius by Michael Nylan and Thomas Wilson

A Journey Through the Last 2,500 Years and the Life of One of the World’s Greatest Philosophers




By Michael Nylan and Thomas Wilson


Confucius’s influence is unrestrained by time or geography. One of the most significant leaders of all time, his teachings have resonated throughout Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese thought and life over the centuries, right up to the present day. For the general reader, there’s never been a telling of Confucius’s life and the evolution of his stature—until now. Written by two well-respected authorities on Chinese history, Michael Nylan and Thomas A. Wilson, LIVES OF CONFUCIUS: Civilization’s Greatest Sage Through the Ages (Doubleday Religion; On-Sale April 13, 2010; $25.00 Hardcover) is the new history of Confucius.

The single most important person in Chinese history, aside from Mao Zedong, Confucius must be viewed from several different perspectives in order to grasp the broad range of roles that he has played over the years. Based on archeological findings, especially those of the past twenty years, LIVES OF CONFUCIUS expertly paints these view points and becomes an evolving portrait of the philosopher. The many mysteries about Confucius’s historical life are answered, and fascinating details emerge about the progression of his teachings. Nylan and Wilson are rich in their interpretations, taking Confucian teaching through the millennia to the present day.

Confucius’s system of philosophy, Confucianism, emphasized personal and governmental morality, justice, and appropriateness in social situations. Throughout the world, the strength of his doctrine is as powerful as that of Jesus and Mohammad—perhaps even more so—and has gained prominence over Taoism and Buddhism. Although Confucius died almost 2,500 years ago, his teachings continue to hold relevance and insight. Modern China, for example, has reintegrated many of Confucius’s thoughts in the last fifty years—beginning under Mao’s influence and culminating in the more recent occurrence of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

The first encapsulation for general readers, LIVES OF CONFUCIUS is unique in the way it delivers the details of Confucius’s life and how his work and influence have been interpreted, reinvented, degenerated, extolled, and put to ever differing uses throughout Chinese history. It is a fresh perspective on one of China’s great teachers and is fascinating both for the individual portrait of Confucius himself and for the sweep of history it delivers.

#      #      #



Michael Nylan is a professor of early Chinese history at the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of Five Confucian Classics and coauthor of the forthcoming Cambridge History of China. Thomas A. Wilson is an associate professor of history at Hamilton College and is the author of On Sacred Grounds.



By Michael Nylan and Thomas Wilson

On Sale: April 13, 2010

Published by Doubleday Religion

Hardcover   w   ISBN: 978-0-385-51069-1  w  $25.00


Doubleday Religion logo


To schedule your interview with Michael Nylan or Thomas Wilson, please contact Emily Lyman in the Doubleday Religion publicity department at 212.782.8351 or

The Crown Publishing Group