The Other Wes Moore : One Name, Two Fates
by Wes Moore

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Two kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city.  Read more...

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More About The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

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.

  • ISBN-13: 9780385528191
  • ISBN-10: 0385528191
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
  • Publish Date: April 2010
  • Page Count: 256

Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Cultural Heritage
Books > Social Science > Ethnic Studies - African American Studies - General
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Personal Memoirs

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 46.
  • Review Date: 2010-03-08
  • Reviewer: Staff

Two hauntingly similar boys take starkly different paths in this searing tale of the ghetto. Moore, an investment banker, Rhodes scholar, and former aide to Condoleezza Rice, was intrigued when he learned that another Wes Moore, his age and from the same area of Greater Baltimore, was wanted for killing a cop. Meeting his double and delving into his life reveals deeper likenesses: raised in fatherless families and poor black neighborhoods, both felt the lure of the money and status to be gained from dealing drugs. That the author resisted the criminal underworld while the other Wes drifted into it is chalked up less to character than to the influence of relatives, mentors, and expectations that pushed against his own delinquent impulses, to the point of exiling him to military school. 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. (May 4)

BookPage Reviews

Two men, one name

Wes Moore—Rhodes scholar, army officer and one-time Special Assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—discovered one day in a newspaper article that he shared a name with someone whose life had taken a far different turn. Though they were born only a year apart in the same Baltimore neighborhood, the other Wes Moore was now doomed to spend the rest of his life in prison after committing a robbery that culminated in the death of a police officer. Determined to discover how two people from such similar backgrounds could wind up in vastly different circumstances, one Wes Moore decided to research the other.

The Other Wes Moore shows there are no easy explanations. Moore the author makes no attempt to justify the imprisoned Moore’s actions, even while detailing a familiar litany of neglect, absence of male role models and bad choices. The successful Wes Moore also shows he was far from perfect in his youth, but thanks to his loving family’s insistence that he fulfill his potential, he excelled in academics and forged a satisfying career. Through hundreds of interviews, not only with his namesake, but with police, social workers and others, Moore’s book reaffirms the impact that even one tough parent can have on a child’s ultimate success or failure.

It also dispels some myths, most notably the contention that everyone who grows up in the mean streets eventually either emulates the negative behavior surrounding them or is overcome by it. Writer and journalist Moore emphatically says the other Wes Moore is not a victim. But he does see him as another person who fell through the cracks. Their one-on-one discussions crackle with intensity, as the two men frequently disagree. Still, the author continually wrestles with  the reality that they aren’t nearly as different as their social positions indicate.

While in prison, Moore has acknowledged his guilt, converted to Islam, become a grandfather and accepted the fact that he’ll probably never be released. The two Moores share the priority of keeping other young men, especially black kids, from mimicking his behavior and making the same mistakes. The Other Wes Moore contains a detailed resource guide, providing parents with the names of organizations that can help them in times of need and offer counsel before problematic cases degenerate into hopeless outcomes. He knows he can’t save everyone, but Wes Moore is determined to do whatever he can to prevent the emergence of more “other Wes Moore” situations.

BAM Customer Reviews