In The Other Wes Moore, author Wes Moore narrates his memoir of two little boys who become very different men. Both African American, fatherless, exposed to crime at an early age, Wes Moore, the author, and Wes Moore, the other, share both a name and a history, but live very different lives today. This book is an examination of why, as well as a call to action.
Moore narrates his book and his voice is solid and rich tones deepened by the streets, and consonants and vowels shaped and buffed by a good education. Proud, but never boastful, Moore tells his story of education, military service, and leadership. And, in a somber and respectful voice, he tells a parallel story: one of crime, broken families, and incarceration the life of the other Wes Moore.
The memoir is part self-examination and part anthropological and sociological study of inner-city America. Throughout, Moore searches for the answer to the question: “What made the difference?” Why did he become a White House fellow and serve his country in Afghanistan while the other Wes Moore was charged with killing a police officer and now serves a life sentence?
The author offers no pat answers, no quaint life lessons just hard truths. He is neither sympathetic nor judgmental he makes no excuses for the tragic loss of Sergeant Bruce Prothero, the police officer the other Wes Moore was eventually convicted of killing. He also shows us the other side of his doppelganger poignantly describing the other Moore’s careful work during shop class at trade school on a playhouse for his daughter.
Wes Moore speaks from the perspective of someone who has known fear and disillusionment, but also with a voice that has said, “Yes, sir,” and “Will you marry me?” and “Thank you.” This is the voice that calls the listener to want to make a difference in the lives of young people in this country. Sarah Evans Hogeboom
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 has 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.
©2010 Wes Moore (P)2010 Random House
"Moore writes with subtlety and insight about the plight of ghetto youth, viewing it from inside and out; he probes beneath the pathologies to reveal the pressures—poverty, a lack of prospects, the need to respond to violence with greater violence—that propelled the other Wes to his doom. The result is a moving exploration of roads not taken." (Publishers Weekly)
If you enjoy reading biographies of contemporary people, you might also enjoy The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba, or Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, by Karen Blumenthal, or Aung San Suu Kyi, by Sherry O'Keefe.
The author Wes Moore had a challenging childhood. His father died when he was very young, his mom had to work multiple jobs to support their family after his death, and they had to live in neighborhoods plagued with drugs and gangs.
Moore survived his turbulent youth, however, and went on to become a decorated war veteran, college graduate, and Rhodes scholar. It was when he was in South Africa on his Rhodes fellowship that his mother told him about another young man, about his age, and from his home town, who had just been arrested for robbing a jewelry store; the robbers had killed a security guard. This young man’s name was also Wes Moore, and this Wes Moore was convicted to a life sentence in prison.
The shock that there could be another person, with his identical name, growing up in a very similar situation who ended up in such a different place made the author want to understand the other Wes Moore, and how their lives had diverged so significantly. This is the biography and autobiography of the two Wes Moores.
I found this an interesting theme which provided a fair and balanced perspective of what went wrong and right in the life of two young men. It avoids cliches and tells it like it is. It provided hope and at the same time created sadness. I listened while driving which is not the best way to evaluate editing but my assessment is that it lacked substantially at times. Mr. Moore did his story a disservice by reading the book himself. His reading style was short and truncated, pausing frequently mid-sentence like he was out of breath. In my listening this was serious enough flaw that it substantially reduced the enjoyment of the book. I would rate the story favorably, but the other elements were enough of a distraction that I would not recomment it.
Wes Moore candidly describes the right questions that challenges the answers we all seem to have. How can be best serve those who need it the most and When is the right time to intervene in the life of a young person?
The premise of the book is very interesting---the juxtaposition of two individuals, who happen to share the same name and several other characteristics, who have dramatically different outcomes.
For as much thought as the author gave to what set the two apart, the author seemed to undervalue the tremendous opportunity/change in his course that came from attending military school.
Page Turner, Avid Listener, Life-long Student.
Such an interesting story of two men of similar background whose lives go in entirely different directions. Moore's careful recounting of key moments in each man's life and how their decisions within and handling of those moments effected their future breeds introspection from the reader. It certainly made me think on what moments and decisions could have changed my own course in life. I was impressed that Moore sought to be truthful and plain in the telling rather than stir emotions and thoughts in the reader to support his own suppositions.
I have recommended this already to my friends. It is a great story that brings home to cold hard truth about the decisions we all made.
When Wes's mom told him she was not going to take him out of military school. It was a painful decision for her as a mom I am sure, but one that needed to be made for the sake of her child.
Every choice has a consequence.
Interesting true story about how life choices affect lives. Open view of what could have happened to a life "wasted" and a life "gained" from family support and expectations.
If you ever thought your life was written out in the stars, or that you were dealt a bad hand at birth due various reasons, reading this book should change your mind. You can be anything or anyone you want to be, with people around you who believe in you. That might be the most important part, that not only is your fate not written in stone at birth, but you have to listen to the role models around you in order to succeed. You might have to leave your present neighborhood because too many people do not have an interest in seeing you succeed. As a matter of fact, to the contrary, they might want to see you fail because "misery loves company." The same idea of writing your own ticket with your own self-adopted mentors is also described in the autobiography, I Beat the Odds by Michael Oher. It is a fabulous book written by an amazingly reflective young man. These two books should be required high school reading (especially in inner city or rural schools) along with the 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens, and The Four Agreements.
Never read the printed edition.
Both men during their youth.
This book really makes you understand the meaning of "there but for the grace of God go I."
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