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The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Author: Wes Moore
Publisher: Published April 27th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2010)
ISBN: 9780385528191
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Two kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.   In December 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just Two kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.   In December 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper also ran a series of articles about four young men who had allegedly killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One was named Wes Moore.  Wes just couldn’t shake off the unsettling coincidence, or the inkling that the two shared much more than space in the same newspaper. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting him: Who are you? How did this happen? That letter led to a correspondence and relationship that have lasted for several years. Over dozens of letters and prison visits, Wes discovered that the other Wes had had a life not unlike his own: Both had grown up in similar neighborhoods and had had difficult childhoods, both were fatherless; they’d hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and both had run into trouble with the police. At each stage of their young lives they had come across similar moments of decision, yet their choices would lead them to astonishingly different destinies. Told in alternating dramatic narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

30 review for The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This book was disappointing. It's based on a flawed premise that the story of two guys with the same name in the same city is inherently interesting. But I thought this book was mundane and undiscerning. It never answered the question it asked, namely: Why did one of the guys named Wes end up in prison, and the other Wes end up with a college degree and a successful career? The author writes about his tough childhood, and eventually his family sent him to military school to straighten up. The exp This book was disappointing. It's based on a flawed premise that the story of two guys with the same name in the same city is inherently interesting. But I thought this book was mundane and undiscerning. It never answered the question it asked, namely: Why did one of the guys named Wes end up in prison, and the other Wes end up with a college degree and a successful career? The author writes about his tough childhood, and eventually his family sent him to military school to straighten up. The experience changed his life, giving him discipline, confidence, and respect. He later graduated from Johns Hopkins University, became a Rhodes scholar, and served in Afghanistan. In short, the author has an inspiring story and is a positive role model for troubled youth. But where the book doesn't work is when the author interviews the "other Wes Moore," the one in prison for an armed robbery in Baltimore that killed a police officer. The other Wes also had a tough childhood, and got caught up in a drug-dealing gang. The story skips around in time, hitting different low points for the other Wes. A significant problem is that Imprisoned Wes is not reflective and his terse quotes don't elucidate the narrative. At one point he claims he's innocent of the robbery charges, but no alternative explanation is given. I became very frustrated by this muddled book and almost abandoned it. I think this is another one of those stories that would have made a better magazine article, instead of being padded out to book length. I am sure that author Wes Moore will have a successful career as a public speaker, and more power to him. But his book was just OK. Inspiring Quote "When we're young, it sometimes seems as if the world doesn't exist outside our city, our block, our house, our room. We make decisions based on what we see in that limited world and follow the only models available. The most important thing that happened to me was not being physically transported — the moves from Baltimore to the Bronx to Valley Forge didn't change my way of thinking. What changed was that I found myself surrounded by people ... who kept pushing me to see more than what was directly in front of me, to see the boundless possibilities of the wider world and the unexplored possibilities within myself. People who taught me that no accident of birth — not being black or relatively poor, being from Baltimore or the Bronx or fatherless — would ever define or limit me."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I heard about this when it came out a couple years ago and was intrigued, and then the College of Education I work and go to graduate school in chose it for its "common read," so I read it. It would absolutely be a good discussion starter in undergraduate classes. (Although unfortunately for my College of Education, the "successful Wes Moore" ultimately gets on the right path when his mom enrolls him in a private military school, so it doesn't provide any intel on how public schools can engage a I heard about this when it came out a couple years ago and was intrigued, and then the College of Education I work and go to graduate school in chose it for its "common read," so I read it. It would absolutely be a good discussion starter in undergraduate classes. (Although unfortunately for my College of Education, the "successful Wes Moore" ultimately gets on the right path when his mom enrolls him in a private military school, so it doesn't provide any intel on how public schools can engage at-risk youth.) My main gripe with it--that it's 99% descriptive, with very little attempt to explain or explore why the lives of these two boys with the same name turned out so differently--could inspire assignments where students would look into some of the sociology and education research that tries to explain life outcomes, risk/protective factors, etc. and see whether those theories hold for the Wes Moores. But with just my reader hat on, not my teacher hat, it was unsatisfying. I expected more thought/analysis/interpretation/rumination from a Rhodes scholar. We all know that some kids succeed and some don't--what can the experiences of these two men teach us about how to help more of them succeed?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Holly Williams

    The premise that these two men shared similar upbringings is barely tenable. I don't doubt that Mr. Moore's intentions were sincere, but beyond their mutual name, these men had very different mothers, fathers, family support systems, educational opportunities and friends. The similarities, by contrast, were far less impactive: a shared name and age, and brief stints living in Baltimore city proper. Furthermore, the commonality that they were both young African American men is much more complicat The premise that these two men shared similar upbringings is barely tenable. I don't doubt that Mr. Moore's intentions were sincere, but beyond their mutual name, these men had very different mothers, fathers, family support systems, educational opportunities and friends. The similarities, by contrast, were far less impactive: a shared name and age, and brief stints living in Baltimore city proper. Furthermore, the commonality that they were both young African American men is much more complicated than Mr. Moore bothers to explore. Coming from a family of Caribbean immigrants that achieved Bachelors degrees within one generation (both of the author's parents were first generation Americans that graduated from American University) is NOT EVEN CLOSE to the same as coming from from an African American family where the one present parent dropped out of college. As I said before, I do not doubt that the author's exploration of the two lives was sincere (if a little self indulgent). However, his effort to make a meaningful contribution is questionable. If he was in fact writing this book to help parents and young adults make better choices, one would think he would at least MINIMALLY acquaint himself with the considerable universe of academic research on educational attainment in low income minority groups. He did not, and his shallow reflections and easily drawn conclusions are a result. The one contribution the book made was the inclusion of a list of organizations that provide services to urban youth across the US. (This unfortunately came after a somewhat douche-y recount of all of the author's accomplishments and most exciting life moments, but it's a contribution nonetheless.) Bottom line: The book will likely disappoint or underwhelm those with a background in urban education.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Two Wes Moores diverged in a yellow wood (called Baltimore) And sorry he could not travel both And be one traveler, long Wes Moore the Rhodes Scholar stood And looked down one as far as he could By interviewing the other Wes Moore in Jessup Correctional Institution Where the path disappears in the undergrowth Of drug-dealing, robbery, and accomplice to murder. Wes took the other, as just as fair, Through military school, time in Afghanistan, and ultimately the business world, And having perhaps the bette Two Wes Moores diverged in a yellow wood (called Baltimore) And sorry he could not travel both And be one traveler, long Wes Moore the Rhodes Scholar stood And looked down one as far as he could By interviewing the other Wes Moore in Jessup Correctional Institution Where the path disappears in the undergrowth Of drug-dealing, robbery, and accomplice to murder. Wes took the other, as just as fair, Through military school, time in Afghanistan, and ultimately the business world, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for the passing there, he realized that many young black men Had worn them really about the same. And both stories in this book equally lay Like a newspaper feature collected and printed as a book, Thank God Wes the Author saved the first for no other day! Now knowing, after talking to the other Wes over many weeks, How way leads to sad way Until he doubted whether his life was just luck And wondered how he might save others from the clutches of the inner city With this book of hope and homilies on choices. You shall be reading this if cautionary tales are your thing Somewhere, somehow in future days Two Wes Moores diverged in a yellow wood (called Baltimore), and Wes – He took the one less traveled by, And that has made him an author Of dichotomies, decisions, fate, and cruel fortune, which together Have made all the difference.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    Disclaimer: I have met the author Wes Moore. He was a student worker in the Career Center when I worked at Johns Hopkins. I didn't know him well, but did interact with him. Even then, it was apparent that he was a pretty extraordinary person. I was excited to read this book because I felt like I "knew" the characters and setting a bit. I think my knowledge of the author colored my ability to see this book as a comparison of two boys with the "there but for the grace of God..." ideal that the desc Disclaimer: I have met the author Wes Moore. He was a student worker in the Career Center when I worked at Johns Hopkins. I didn't know him well, but did interact with him. Even then, it was apparent that he was a pretty extraordinary person. I was excited to read this book because I felt like I "knew" the characters and setting a bit. I think my knowledge of the author colored my ability to see this book as a comparison of two boys with the "there but for the grace of God..." ideal that the description implies. Could the author Wes Moore have become the criminal Wes Moore? Perhaps. We all make foolish choices in life, and those choices made in the context of the environment that Wes was in, could have been tragic. But could the criminal Wes Moore have become the author? That seems to me to be more unlikely, because author Wes has a gift of charisma that draws people to him. Whether it resulted from his life experience or was a factor in his gaining that life experience is a chicken-or-egg question, but it is rare and probably not a fair comparison for another person. Regardless of the strain of the comparison, the book definitely makes it clear that there were factors that existed in the author's life that didn't in the criminal's. One was the presence of an educated mother, and, in the author's case, one that was willing to do whatever it took to make sure her son went down the right path. The author's mother also had competent family support, something that the criminal's mother sadly lacked. Although both boys grew up fatherless, the circumstances of that fatherlessness were vastly different. It must have a different impact psychologically to know that you had a father that would have been there for you had he not tragically died, than to know that you have a living father that doesn't give a crap about you. I guess where I'm left is wondering what to do with this information. Yes, we know that having a strong support network makes success possible for kids, regardless of the economics of their birth. I'm left wondering how we give them that network. Can someone else make up for the lack of a strong family base? If so, how?

  6. 5 out of 5

    jv poore

    I received this as a thank-you gift from a student. It was my pleasure & privilege to visit her senior English class every month to talk about books! I'm thinking about you, Chyna. It seems so simple to become somewhat self-absorbed (or perhaps that's just me) that I can not help but marvel at those curious creatures that grasp an almost random thought and entirely think it through. Mr. Moore did that very thing, then generously shared the parallel stories in the most thought-provoking and em I received this as a thank-you gift from a student. It was my pleasure & privilege to visit her senior English class every month to talk about books! I'm thinking about you, Chyna. It seems so simple to become somewhat self-absorbed (or perhaps that's just me) that I can not help but marvel at those curious creatures that grasp an almost random thought and entirely think it through. Mr. Moore did that very thing, then generously shared the parallel stories in the most thought-provoking and empathy evoking, inspiring way possible.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jason Arias

    This thought provoking book, about two young men from similar backgrounds ultimately branching in two totally different directions, is a stark reminder that the shirking of personal accountability has historically been the downfall of many passionate men and women destined for greatness, yet shackled to self destruction. Moore writes with a delicate balance that makes the story human without distorting the facts with romanticism. By paralleling the lives of Moore (the author) and Moore (the pris This thought provoking book, about two young men from similar backgrounds ultimately branching in two totally different directions, is a stark reminder that the shirking of personal accountability has historically been the downfall of many passionate men and women destined for greatness, yet shackled to self destruction. Moore writes with a delicate balance that makes the story human without distorting the facts with romanticism. By paralleling the lives of Moore (the author) and Moore (the prisoner serving a life sentence), the reader is able to come to their own conclusions as to why each life took the turns it did. The beauty of this book is that it isn't a call to arms against some external unfairness, some ominous portrayal of The Man, but rather a reminder that anything is possible if you do not succumb to the environment you are in, anything achievable if you believe in the person you were meant to be, and anything surmountable in the face of adversity. It's time for each of us to take accountability for our shortcomings, get back up on that horse, and take back the reins of our dignity. I'm a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more of it I have.- Thomas Jefferson

  8. 5 out of 5

    Felipe Cordoba

    Initially I wasn’t too sure about reading this book because of what it seemed to be advertising. From the moment I picked it up at the library and read the summary, Wes Moore struck me as one of the folks who particularly enjoys telling others of his success and makes it a point to demonstrate how another man by the same name is a failure. Although I do respect him for his accomplishments and look up to how he escaped the Baltimore projects, it was hard to imagine an author being very philosophi Initially I wasn’t too sure about reading this book because of what it seemed to be advertising. From the moment I picked it up at the library and read the summary, Wes Moore struck me as one of the folks who particularly enjoys telling others of his success and makes it a point to demonstrate how another man by the same name is a failure. Although I do respect him for his accomplishments and look up to how he escaped the Baltimore projects, it was hard to imagine an author being very philosophical when comparing himself to another. As I progressed through the book, I realized that Wes had a very profound way of looking at the different situations that both he and the “other” Wes Moore were in. Posing questions that ponder the sole moment or decisions that made their lives different is nearly impossible. Which is why, as Wes realizes, there is no single moment or answer but a collection of moments, memories, decisions and people that have all equally affected both Wes’s lives. This lack of a single answer is very interesting to me but makes me wonder if there really is any connection between the two besides their names and fatherless childhoods. I find it a little far-fetched to compare two different people at such a personal level because after all, no one person is the same as the next. The idea of the book is great and I feel as if I am looking at the same person in an alternate dimension, but in reality these are just two different men who made different decisions and ended up in different positions.

  9. 4 out of 5

    C

    This review is based on a set of advance proofs which I won in a Goodreads Giveaway. The Other Wes Moore is a fascinating look at the lives of two men, both named Wes Moore, both from low-income families, both from un-privileged urban backgrounds. One man sits in prison for life, convicted of participation in a robbery and the murder of a police officer, while the other went on to enjoy every success that a young man can enjoy. The author, the Wes Moore who went on to become a Rhodes Scholar and This review is based on a set of advance proofs which I won in a Goodreads Giveaway. The Other Wes Moore is a fascinating look at the lives of two men, both named Wes Moore, both from low-income families, both from un-privileged urban backgrounds. One man sits in prison for life, convicted of participation in a robbery and the murder of a police officer, while the other went on to enjoy every success that a young man can enjoy. The author, the Wes Moore who went on to become a Rhodes Scholar and White House Fellow, does not pretend to be able to explain the vagaries of life, of these two lives. He seeks the answer to "why" as much as the reader does: why did one Wes succeed where the other did not? Why was one Wes able to move out of the decayed neighborhoods of America's cities while the other could or would not? Wes Moore has written an excellent book. I recommend it for anyone who wants to be confronted with some of the most challenging questions today in the United States - how can we both help and encourage young people to make good choices, to rise about their circumstances? How can we change institutions to make sure that young people, like the other Wes Moore, don't fall through the cracks?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cflack

    I am reading this book during a very difficult time in the city where I live. This fall, and more specifically the last three weeks, there have been four shootings and three deaths of black males between the ages of 15 and 23. As someone who grew up in this community and has chosen to raise a family here, we as a community are grappling with these senseless deaths. I would not say that Wes Moore is a great writer, but he is an eloquent and impassioned writer on this subject which touches him ver I am reading this book during a very difficult time in the city where I live. This fall, and more specifically the last three weeks, there have been four shootings and three deaths of black males between the ages of 15 and 23. As someone who grew up in this community and has chosen to raise a family here, we as a community are grappling with these senseless deaths. I would not say that Wes Moore is a great writer, but he is an eloquent and impassioned writer on this subject which touches him very personally and deeply. He follows his path and that of the other Wes Moore which end up in very different places. It was a painful book to read, but also an important one, if for no other reasons than to start to grapple with very difficult questions about what we can do as a community to help others among us to find successful paths.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I was very excited for this book, only to be let down. Hugely. Wes Moore (the "successful" one) spends a lot of the book describing WHAT happens, without exploring WHY things might have transpired the way that they did. The fact is, the Wes Moore in prison never, ever could have had the same story as the "successful" Wes Moore, and it is very unlikely that the "successful" Wes Moore could have ended up in prison like the "unsuccessful" Wes Moore. Why not? The author came from a family with two suc I was very excited for this book, only to be let down. Hugely. Wes Moore (the "successful" one) spends a lot of the book describing WHAT happens, without exploring WHY things might have transpired the way that they did. The fact is, the Wes Moore in prison never, ever could have had the same story as the "successful" Wes Moore, and it is very unlikely that the "successful" Wes Moore could have ended up in prison like the "unsuccessful" Wes Moore. Why not? The author came from a family with two successful, college educated parents. His mother became as single mother, but it was because his father died, not because he left the family. While they didn't have a lot of money, there were a lot of other social forces in play that prevented him from taking the path of the "Other Wes Moore," whose mother was uneducated. This was largely in part because of Reaganomics- it would have been really interesting for the author to research into this topic some more, maybe add an opinion in there, instead of treating it as something that she should have been able to "overcome." He also ignored how the connections he made in his rich schools could have helped him achieve some of his accomplishments- not to take away from them, but it really showed that it's not what you know, it's who you know. Who did the Other Wes Moore know? His older brother who is now also in prison with him. Mostly, this book seemed like a way to 1. give the author street cred- I know I'm a super successful financial adviser, but listen! I'm from the hood! I tagged a building once! Barf. 2. brag about his accomplishments. Decent book but if you've read the inside cover, you've basically read the book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Sam

    I literally finished this book cover-to-cover in less than 24hrs. My pending book club meeting this weekend played a role in my desire to finish quickly *smile*, but this was definitely a page turner. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives and struggles of people growing up in difficult neighborhoods, and under less than favorable circumstances. Maybe that is my sheltered naiveté shining through, who knows. Throughout the book, my goal was to find the ‘turning point’ – the decision, scenario, o I literally finished this book cover-to-cover in less than 24hrs. My pending book club meeting this weekend played a role in my desire to finish quickly *smile*, but this was definitely a page turner. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives and struggles of people growing up in difficult neighborhoods, and under less than favorable circumstances. Maybe that is my sheltered naiveté shining through, who knows. Throughout the book, my goal was to find the ‘turning point’ – the decision, scenario, opportunity that accounted for the difference between the life paths of these two young men. I failed. There wasn’t one certain event that stood out as the deciding factor. Instead, I was able to see all the benefits of family, support, exposure, and shared knowledge once placed in the hands of someone who determines to take advantage of it. I don’t know if it’s pregnancy hormones or what, but I got really emotional thinking about the responsibility ‘the village’ has on our young people, and my responsibility as a soon to be parent. I pray God shows me how to be the best parent, and a mentor to anyone He brings along my path. But more importantly, I pray that we find a way to give as many young people as we can options in life, so that when they are ready to make long term decisions about their life, they have something concrete to refer to. Loved the presentation of this book and the journey it took me through. It is pretty powerful because of how it made me think, reflect, and challenge myself after reading it. Two thumbs up!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Walter

    Maybe my expectations were too high for this book: I had seen its author on Tavis Smiley's television show and read a couple of (very) positive reviews of it, so I really expected to be blown away by The Other Wes Moore. In a word, I was not. It's an interesting story of two men who share a name and a background who choose very different paths. This is a good beginning; unfortunately, the execution thereafter leaves something to be desired. The author, the "good" Wes Moore, begins life in a tough Maybe my expectations were too high for this book: I had seen its author on Tavis Smiley's television show and read a couple of (very) positive reviews of it, so I really expected to be blown away by The Other Wes Moore. In a word, I was not. It's an interesting story of two men who share a name and a background who choose very different paths. This is a good beginning; unfortunately, the execution thereafter leaves something to be desired. The author, the "good" Wes Moore, begins life in a tough Baltimore neighborhood and ends up a Rhodes Scholar, Wall Streeter, White House Fellow, etc. The "bad" one starts in the same place and ends up in prison for life. The point of the book is to examine why these two men ended up taking such wildly divergent paths and, ostensibly, how to encourage more people to emulate the good one. Except that the parallels in their stories aren't quite as compelling as they may appear initially. For example, the good Wes Moore spends a number of his formative years living in the Bronx, NY, whereas his namesake never leaves Baltimore and its suburbs. Though the good one is shipped off to military school (after his antisocial behavior in a privileged private school), his educational path is decidely better than his namesake's because of his mother's ambition. The other doesn't have this much support or as much "push" from home, although his mother was encouraging of his positive development. Further, the bad Wes Moore has an older brother who in trying to dissuade him from pursuing his own example of a life in the streets ends up encouraging him to do just that, whereas the author has no such close relation or relationship dragging him down. Still, all of this would be minor were it not for the reality that the author is far more adept at relaying his namesake's historical story than at penetrating the latter's world in the present, especially the part that begins after he is convicted of perpetrating a life-changing crime. The bad Wes Moore never quite comes to life as vividly as does the author, so he is not a particulary compelling figure with whom to compare and contrast. As such, then, this weakens the impact of the book significantly. This being said, there is an incredibly compelling story of the author's being influenced by a mentor to explore the Rhodes opportunity and then of his travel to South Africa for study during one of his collegiate years. Simply put, this passage near the end of the book comprised for me the most compelling ten pages in it. It is because of this moving section of the book that I recommend that it be read. Simply put, this excerpt is so powerfully and movingly relayed that it makes reading the rest of the book worth it (or, just read these ten pages and be amazed by their profundity and meaning). (The same could also be said of a section early in the book in which the author describes his father and the influence that he has early in his son's life.) In summary, then, I liked The Other Wes Moore but was disappointed because I expected to love it after having read about it and seen it previewed on TV. Perhaps if I hadn't had as much exposure to it before reading it I would have a different reaction to it, so I encourage others to keep this in mind as they consider reading it. Wes Moore is an interesting young man whom you cannot help but admire, so his contribution of this book is meaningful. I wish that he had been able to bring his namesake's essence to the fore as powerfully, but I would nonetheless recommend this book to others.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Parks

    When I student taught last year at Pattonville, one of my students told me that he was reading The Other Wes Moore, and it was the best book he’d ever read. Now, usually I’m excited to hear any of my students say they loved reading a certain book, but this was an especially big deal. This was a student who was born a crack baby, didn’t get past page 2 of The Great Gatsby because it was “just that boring,” couldn’t sit still, and was hardcore failing my class. Yet he was genuinely enjoying a book When I student taught last year at Pattonville, one of my students told me that he was reading The Other Wes Moore, and it was the best book he’d ever read. Now, usually I’m excited to hear any of my students say they loved reading a certain book, but this was an especially big deal. This was a student who was born a crack baby, didn’t get past page 2 of The Great Gatsby because it was “just that boring,” couldn’t sit still, and was hardcore failing my class. Yet he was genuinely enjoying a book. As a teacher, I constantly strive to make what goes on in my classroom relevant to my students’ outside lives and interests. So, I picked up the book with the intentions of seeing if this is a book worth teaching to my students. The Other Wes Moore is a true story that examines what really makes the difference between people growing up in similar circumstances: is it quality of education, parental support, the friends we chose for ourselves, self-esteem, differing life experiences? Two different men, strangers to each other, grow up without a father, in same neighborhood in inner-city Baltimore, and share the same name: Wes Moore. We Moore (the author) goes to college, becomes a Rhodes Scholar, attends Oxford, studies abroad in South Africa, serves in the military, befriends some of the most influential people in the nation, and has a bright future ahead of him. The other Wes Moore drops out of school, deals drugs, fathers children with different mothers, and ends up in prison for life. The author, Wes Moore, was in college when he heard a news report about this man with the same man imprisoned for manslaughter, and he haunted Wes’s thoughts for two years. Finally, Wes wrote to the other Wes in prison requesting an interview, and the book took off from there. The book’s narrative jumps between the two Wes’s lives in sort of a parallel structure, which is quite interesting to read: in fact, I finished the book so quickly that I found myself asking, “Wait—it’s over already?!” While the two Wes’s lives are quite similar when they are very young, their lives diverge drastically when the author Wes is sent off to military school by his Mom (who has a college education and an excellent family and friend support system) after he becomes a discipline problem at his school. The author Wes’s Mom had to sacrifice a lot to send her son to military school, but that sort of left me wondering about the options that concerned inner-city parents really have if they have no money. And surely military school isn’t the only fix for children who have disciplinary problems. What seemed to make the biggest difference between the two Wes’s, though, wasn’t just the decisions of their mothers, but I think the support systems that they and their families chose for themselves. The author Wes’s Mom moved in with her parents after her husband died, and she had a strong network of friends that was able to recommend military school to her. In contrast, the other Wes’s Mom hung with the wrong crowd, just as the other Wes himself did. There is one bright spot in the book for the other Wes, though, and I thought things were going to finally turn around: when he leaves home for several months for the Job Corps, in which he lived in an area like a college campus, was taught useful job skills, and was surrounded by positive influence. However, once he moved back home, there were simply no permanent jobs paying more than $9 an hour for his skill set and he was left without the support he had at Job Corps, so he gave in to his past ways of making money so he could support his family. That was the saddest part of the story for me. Just like my student at Pattonville, I strongly recommend this book. I don’t think only people with some sort of a connection to the city will enjoy the book, because many of the struggles and temptations that both Wes Moores go through are everywhere: drugs, teenage pregnancy, stealing, fighting, living with poverty. Really, I think that anyone who is a teenager, or who works with teenagers, or anyone interested in the human experience, will benefit from reading this fascinating, fast-paced book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Deka

    the story of two wes moores that ended very differently though the author doesnt pinpoint an exact reason. i dont think he should. it's impossible to say definitively what would or would not have improved one's life. but, to me this book illustrates the importance of asking for help when you need it, the importance of education and a supportive family, the weight of accountability and responsibility, the variance of human nature, and how a seemingly small decision can change your life.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Catherine ♡

    I think the premise for this was super interesting, and it had a lot of potential to be a really heartfelt read, because I quite liked some of the scenes, but in the long run the book fell a little flat for me. It was a lot of "tell", not "show", and it started to feel like a timeline of life events that I think could have been improved with more emotional emphasis. I also really loved the bits about South Africa and apartheid, and having just finished reading Trevor Noah's Born a Crime: Stories I think the premise for this was super interesting, and it had a lot of potential to be a really heartfelt read, because I quite liked some of the scenes, but in the long run the book fell a little flat for me. It was a lot of "tell", not "show", and it started to feel like a timeline of life events that I think could have been improved with more emotional emphasis. I also really loved the bits about South Africa and apartheid, and having just finished reading Trevor Noah's Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood, it was really interesting to read more about it from a different perspective.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beth Sammons

    An eye opening book especially for a 40ish sheltered white woman. The prevailing question of the book:why why why... Well to be honest it doesn't take a rocket scientist... 1. There is a difference in a father dying and the other walking away... 2. There is a difference of education for the parents and grandparents... 3. There is a difference in support system 4. One mother mortgages her life to remove her child from a bad situation, the other shrugs and lights a joint... 5. There is a difference in l An eye opening book especially for a 40ish sheltered white woman. The prevailing question of the book:why why why... Well to be honest it doesn't take a rocket scientist... 1. There is a difference in a father dying and the other walking away... 2. There is a difference of education for the parents and grandparents... 3. There is a difference in support system 4. One mother mortgages her life to remove her child from a bad situation, the other shrugs and lights a joint... 5. There is a difference in lifestyle, one waits until marriage to have children 6. There is a difference in religious background 7. One family immigrated, they were the family that stuck together, had higher education as a high priority and many other factors that show that 2nd, third generation families have higher expectations (recommended read Thomas sowell a black economists who has an amazing prospective on this topic) Many might say I am viewing this through the shades of white privilege... But you can not deny the facts listed above. Many have said author is bragging about his accomplishments, hmm he earned it! He busted his butt in military school, service to country, took advantage of opportunities presented to him AND he appears to be working toward mentoring others -the call to action at the end is very inspiring to others to spend their time or treasures to help others from going down the wrong path. I have passed this book onto a coworker for her 12 year old grandson to read. I hope it gets passed on further to inspire others!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    I was skeptical in even choosing this book to read. I didn't know what Moore's politics were going to be like. Was this going to be another "I-made-it-so-you-can-too" book? I mean, where can you go when you're comparing yourself to someone who "didn't make it"? Thankfully, I think it digs deeper than that, but not as deeply as I think it could have. Certainly Moore recognizes that many people were influential in his success--one glance at his acknowledgments shows that-- but what about the money I was skeptical in even choosing this book to read. I didn't know what Moore's politics were going to be like. Was this going to be another "I-made-it-so-you-can-too" book? I mean, where can you go when you're comparing yourself to someone who "didn't make it"? Thankfully, I think it digs deeper than that, but not as deeply as I think it could have. Certainly Moore recognizes that many people were influential in his success--one glance at his acknowledgments shows that-- but what about the money? Moore's mother struggles, but accomplishes to send him to elite private schools. Is this the answer? He says that it isn't... but does it come back to money? What about the other Wes Moore, whose mother clearly cared about him as well? The other Wes Moore who had a brother who knew the drug game and tried to keep him out of it? Does it come back to being able to physically remove your children from a bad situation? I don't know. I think the book brings up more questions than answers. And this is good. This is great in fact! I believe this should be required reading on many, many syllabi for exactly that reason. It raises questions that we, as a society, need to answer and answer soon. The lives of our nation, our cities, ourselves are literally at stake.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    I'm not one who usually reads "uplifting" true stories with words like "hope" prominently featured in the title or subtitle, but I gave this one a chance for three reasons. First of all, some of it takes place in neighboring Baltimore in the mid-'90s, which is interesting to anyone, like me, who loved the HBO series The Wire. Secondly, at lot of the kids who come into the library I work at are in the same position as the two young Wes Moores described in the book -- they might succumb to the cal I'm not one who usually reads "uplifting" true stories with words like "hope" prominently featured in the title or subtitle, but I gave this one a chance for three reasons. First of all, some of it takes place in neighboring Baltimore in the mid-'90s, which is interesting to anyone, like me, who loved the HBO series The Wire. Secondly, at lot of the kids who come into the library I work at are in the same position as the two young Wes Moores described in the book -- they might succumb to the call of the street, or they might not. Finally, it's short and quick -- if I'm going to read a book like this, I don't want it to be padded out to reach 300 page ideal (note that the final 80 pages of the book are a list of organizations across the country that work to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth). The premise of the book is that two young black men with the same name, coming up in roughly the same area, ended up in very different places in life. One is serving a life sentence for his role in a jewelry store heist in which a guard was killed, and the other ended up Rhodes Scholar and White House Fellow. The book came out of the latter one's desire to trace their histories and try and figure out why his life has worked out, while the other Wes's hasn't. He tells their life stories chronologically, alternating from himself to the incarcerated Wes, laying out the choices they made, and the context for those choices. He does this efficiently and fairly evocatively, managing to convey what goes on inside the heads of boys and young men without being overly analytical or judgemental. However, at the end, I was rather shocked to see him write the following of his grand investigation: "What made the difference?...The truth is that I don't know." Well, any reader of the book could tell him -- the difference is class. Both his parents were college educated, his mother was more involved in his life and had vastly greater financial resources to devote to him, and he had high-achieving siblings. That's pretty much it. When the eventually-successful Wes made some poor decisions as a kid, his mom was able to ask her parents for the money to put him first in private school, and eventually in an elite military academy. Once he prospered in that environment, doors started opening for him, as the network of connections started helping him up the ladder. The other Wes's mother had no financial or familial support to draw upon, and eventually lost control of her son, who main male role model was his drug-dealing half-brother. So, ultimately, there's not much of a lesson here, nor any kind of revelatory strategy for helping young black men. But it is a very instructive case study on how class mechanisms work in America, and what they mean in a tangible, concrete sense.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sera

    How do two boys with the same name who live within the same community end up with lives on two completely different paths? After reading this book, my answer is "I'm not sure". The author, Moore, states that it's the result of multiple factors, including luck, and I don't disagree but if this analysis is at the center of this book's premise, then I'm afraid that Moore failed to meet his objective here (and adding a Call to Action by Tavis Smiley at the end of the book didn't solve this problem). How do two boys with the same name who live within the same community end up with lives on two completely different paths? After reading this book, my answer is "I'm not sure". The author, Moore, states that it's the result of multiple factors, including luck, and I don't disagree but if this analysis is at the center of this book's premise, then I'm afraid that Moore failed to meet his objective here (and adding a Call to Action by Tavis Smiley at the end of the book didn't solve this problem). I really wanted to like this book, because I found the subject matter to be intriguing and important, but I found the writing to be choppy, stilted and frankly, amateurish. I listened to this book on audio and the author read his own work, which was a big mistake, because his flat tone only casts a spotlight on the weakness of the writing. Moreover, it fails to cast the other Wes Moore in the light that I believe the author intended, which is one of understanding and perhaps empathy/sympathy. I like Wes Moore the author, and I'm happy for his successes. But, it's like I told my girlfriends, there is a reason why many people avoid writing their memoirs and hire someone else to do it so that it becomes a biography instead.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

    This thoughtful and accessible book is part cautionary tale, part memoir, part sociological case study. Author Wes Moore recounts his story of growing up poor, black, and male in Baltimore, and juxtaposes it with the story of the other Wes Moore, another young, black Baltimore boy with a similar background and age but whose choices --and their consequences-- diverged widely from the author's. Well worth the listen! #diversereads #BlackLivesMatter #LitsyAtoZ #LetterO

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    What if your life had taken a different path? How would you be different? How would your life be different? That is the premise of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, a book I heard about when it first came out and which I have watched over the last several years. Wes Moore (the author) is a kid from Baltimore whose father died when he was three. His family moved to Brooklyn to live with his grandparents. He got into trouble, was arrested (and let off), and sent to military school by his l What if your life had taken a different path? How would you be different? How would your life be different? That is the premise of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, a book I heard about when it first came out and which I have watched over the last several years. Wes Moore (the author) is a kid from Baltimore whose father died when he was three. His family moved to Brooklyn to live with his grandparents. He got into trouble, was arrested (and let off), and sent to military school by his loving and hard-working mother. After attempting to run away, he rose to the top, was admitted to Johns Hopkins with sub-par SATs, studied in South Africa, and became an unlikely Rhodes Scholar. The other Wes Moore grew up nearby. He was raised by his single mother, sold drugs and got in trouble and more trouble, had four children by three women as a teenager (one woman a drug addict), robbed a jewelry store and shot an off-duty officer. He is now in prison without parole. The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his. What made the difference between the two Wes Moores? In the hardcover version of The Other Wes Moore, the author was unable to identify why. I'm glad that I didn't read the first release of this book, as I would have been royally annoyed that he had been unable to handle this softball. The author had opportunities, considerable social support and social capitol, and mentors. People stepped in every time he stumbled. The other Wes Moore had none of these. The author acknowledged all of these in this edition, but he also pointed to the power of stories in changing the current of our lives.By establishing himself as the protagonist of his own story, [Colin Powell's memoir] inspired me and countless other young people to see ourselves as capable of taking control of our own destinies, and to realize how each decision we make determines the course of our life stories.Yes, the opportunities, considerable social support and social resources, and mentors made it easier to tell a good story that would take the author around the world. The lack of these made it easy for the other Wes Moore to conclude that his future was grim and hopeless, that he didn't matter. Let's help each other tell good stories.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shayne Bauer

    I like the premise of this book more than the book itself. Two boys born at nearly the same time in nearly the same neighborhood end up leading very different lives: one a tremendous success with various titles, the other a convicted felon with a life sentence for murder. The big takeaway is that there is not one single event or choice that determines a person's fate. We are not defined by our circumstances or our environments. The most significant influence is the guidance that surrounds us. We I like the premise of this book more than the book itself. Two boys born at nearly the same time in nearly the same neighborhood end up leading very different lives: one a tremendous success with various titles, the other a convicted felon with a life sentence for murder. The big takeaway is that there is not one single event or choice that determines a person's fate. We are not defined by our circumstances or our environments. The most significant influence is the guidance that surrounds us. We must provide children with positive mentors to guide them toward their potential. While this book certainly helps the reader to understand just how much is working against some people without perhaps anyone ever knowing, I personally found it difficult to relate to. There is much crime, violence, and drug use.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    I enjoy reading Memoirs that are interesting and this was no exception. Even though it's no big deal that there are two people with the same name ( think of how many Mary Smith's there must be in the world) I enjoyed the description of each of the Wes Moore's life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Kennedy

    In 2000, a Baltimore newspaper ran a story with the headline, "Local Graduate Named Rhodes Scholar." It was a story about the author, Wes Moore, a young black man who rose from the drug, crime and poverty-stricken streets of the city to attain this prestigious academic honor. Several months earlier, in the same paper, Mr. Moore had noticed a series of articles about two young black men who killed a Baltimore policeman while robbing a jewelry store. The name of one of the killers struck him: his n In 2000, a Baltimore newspaper ran a story with the headline, "Local Graduate Named Rhodes Scholar." It was a story about the author, Wes Moore, a young black man who rose from the drug, crime and poverty-stricken streets of the city to attain this prestigious academic honor. Several months earlier, in the same paper, Mr. Moore had noticed a series of articles about two young black men who killed a Baltimore policeman while robbing a jewelry store. The name of one of the killers struck him: his name was Wes Moore. This coincidence prompts the author to seek out "the other Wes Moore." He contacts Wes in prison. "How did this happen?" he asks. The question jumpstarts the story of these two young men whose life paths diverged, one into triumph, the other into tragedy. The author comes to realize that this seemingly complicated story, a too-familiar story that is freighted with societal, economic and racial impact, comes down to a few simple moments in time. "These forks in the road can happen so fast for young boys," he says. "Within months or even weeks, their journeys can take a decisive and possibly irrevocable turn." I would more specifically pin the divergence on the boys' mothers. The author is born into a two-parent home, both parents college educated, but his father dies when Wes is just three. His mother moves to the Bronx, so that her parents can help provide a stable home life. She works multiple jobs so that she can put her boys in private school. When the author starts to feel the pull of the streets, she packs him off to military school. The other Wes Moore grows up in a single-parent household of starkly different character. His father is absent and his mother frequently dumps him on friends and family so she can go out clubbing. Although she'd been attending community college, she loses her Pell Grant and simply gives up. Disagreements in the home are handled with beatings. The older brother gets into the drug trade, and all three of them, mother and two sons, bring babies into the world without the stability of marriage. It's no surprise when the other Wes Moore's run-ins with the law begin. This is a compelling story told with passion and understanding. While the author is compassionate, he also makes clear that he is in no way excusing the other Wes Moore for his heinous deed. Even so, I imagine this is a tough book for the family of the slain policeman to read. If you want another great story of a young black man from Baltimore who succeeds thanks to his determined mother, read Byron Pitts's Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anna O'connell

    I liked this book. It's interesting to try and discern which specific attributes of someone's upbringing end up setting them incredibly far apart from others with similar childhoods. Although I found the "successful" Wes Moore arrogant and irritating in his assumption that his success is entirely due to his hard work and intellect, I respected his story. While I agree that the two Wes Moore's did have very similar childhoods, I don't think the difference in their current lives are at all surpris I liked this book. It's interesting to try and discern which specific attributes of someone's upbringing end up setting them incredibly far apart from others with similar childhoods. Although I found the "successful" Wes Moore arrogant and irritating in his assumption that his success is entirely due to his hard work and intellect, I respected his story. While I agree that the two Wes Moore's did have very similar childhoods, I don't think the difference in their current lives are at all surprising. I place a lot of significance on the mothers and immediate families of the boys/men. One of the boys had a mother who had already been through raising a child who insisted upon getting into the drug business and seemed exasperated with it, and thus gave up on her Wes much more quickly than the other mother, who had enough determination and energy to attempt house moves and school transfers for her son. The "unsuccessful" Wes' mother did not seem to have a bevvy of encouraging and helpful family members, and thus was somewhat alone, while the "successful" one's mother had parents who supported her completely and even blew their plan of moving after retirement to keep her and her children safe. Military school was a major defining characteristic as well: the Wes put in it tried to run away multiple times- so taking credit for his success within the program I think is bogus. He was essentially forced to stay, and in such a strict environment, who wouldn't "straighten out"? The other Wes' mother did not have the funds to send her son away. Although in both instances, the fathers were absent, I think the conditions under which they were absent play a large role as well. One father died, and before his death openly expressed his love for his children. The other father abandoned his children. There is already a complex that you are unloved when you believe your father didn't care enough to raise you. The other Wes mentioned this, but the "good" Wes didn't seem to pay much mind to its significance. All in all, I don't think it is fair to call the two similar totally- and I definitely don't think it's fair for the one out of jail to be overly proud.

  28. 5 out of 5

    P.J. O'Brien

    This was an interesting glimpse into the lives of two men facing challenging circumstances in life. More than anything, I think it illustrates the difference that a strong support system, encouragement, and socio-economic opportunity can make in overcoming overwhelming odds. Even though personality traits and the choices individuals make surely have a large role to play, the book really doesn't delve far into their exploration. In fact, I felt the most important part of both men's lives was missi This was an interesting glimpse into the lives of two men facing challenging circumstances in life. More than anything, I think it illustrates the difference that a strong support system, encouragement, and socio-economic opportunity can make in overcoming overwhelming odds. Even though personality traits and the choices individuals make surely have a large role to play, the book really doesn't delve far into their exploration. In fact, I felt the most important part of both men's lives was missing from the work. I wish the formative teen years in the military school for the author had been described more closely. The memories of the first days, and the race-based harassment incident in town years later gave good insight, but it would have been good to learn more about the daily life or the cascading epiphanies that led him to change the trajectory of his life. I do think his overall point was well-taken that being given support and opportunity once he made his choices was key to his success and well-being. The other Wes might have had a better outcome if he'd also had a good support network when successfully completing the Job Corps program, and the opportunity to work using his new skills and be compensated at a level to support his family.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    I chose this book on a whim last night when I was looking for a new title...to my surprise I finished the book in one night! The book starts out with the author Wes Moore describing how he read about a man, with the same name & from the same city, who was found guilty of participating in armed robbery (which culminated in the death of a police officer) and sentenced to life in prison. The author began visiting this man and they began discussing their lives, their background and most importan I chose this book on a whim last night when I was looking for a new title...to my surprise I finished the book in one night! The book starts out with the author Wes Moore describing how he read about a man, with the same name & from the same city, who was found guilty of participating in armed robbery (which culminated in the death of a police officer) and sentenced to life in prison. The author began visiting this man and they began discussing their lives, their background and most importantly, the differences between them that led one down the path of success and the other down the path to destruction. I found it to be a pretty simple read and at times, I felt like Wes Moore glossed over some of the more significant differences (they were both raised by single mothers, but his was very tuned in to him needing to get out of the neighborhood, whereas the other just seemed resigned) and seemed a little too idealistic in his own journey, which I found to be a little annoying. On the other hand, I felt like this was a really important book for the males in my classroom to read. I think they will find it interesting to hear about when each Wes made decisions about their lives and how each one handled things like peer pressure, jobs, school etc. I also enjoyed the layout of the book and found it engaging and interesting to read. The only other thing that really bothered me at the end was that Mr. Moore provided a list of organizations that people could get involved in to support urban youth, particularly black males, but the only national education organizations he mentioned were charter school networks. Mr. Moore, have you been paying attention to the national conversation?! Overall, solid book, but not sure if I would read another by this author

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Three stars are more for the idea than the execution. The writing was something of a distraction - and not in a good way. More like a police report than a story about the lives of two young men...I winced more than once at the choice of words. I think it helped to listen to the book because the narrator is the author, and his enthusiasm and determination are clear in his reading. Its worth a listen. The idea was intriguing and it was an interesting "read" after reading Homicide and The Corner, an Three stars are more for the idea than the execution. The writing was something of a distraction - and not in a good way. More like a police report than a story about the lives of two young men...I winced more than once at the choice of words. I think it helped to listen to the book because the narrator is the author, and his enthusiasm and determination are clear in his reading. Its worth a listen. The idea was intriguing and it was an interesting "read" after reading Homicide and The Corner, and watching The Wire - all tales of street life in Baltimore. There were so many destroyed lives in those books and episodes. Both Wes Moores are from Baltimore, both experienced the streets, both were raised by single mothers - but their lives are completely different. One is a Rhodes Scholar, graduate of John Hopkins, with a bright future in pretty much whatever he wants; the other is in prison for life, after a police officer was killed during a jewelry store robbery. Why did one rise above, the other drown? The author does not definitively answer the question, but highlights some things that probably helped. His mother worked as many hours as the other Wes', but she had family to lean on and when her son started to flounder she took some very drastic measures. The other Wes did try to turn his life around, but had no support system that kept it on track. The author has no real answers for the problems he explored, and at times his story is a bit self-congratulatory - I don't think it was intentional, and it did highlight the idea of choice. His choices led him to an ever-broadening list of choices, while his counterparts led to none at all.

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