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Editor reviews

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

Summary

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

Critic reviews

"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)

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  • Aneesah
  • 04-02-13

Insightful lesson in self-determination

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Demas
  • 25-06-18

Great story

We never know what separates the paths we live out. Fascinating book. The irony of a shared name heightens the story all the more.

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  • Daniela Sanchez
  • 11-06-18

Highly recommend!

This is a great book for teachers, mentors, or anyone who cares deeply about the youth in our country and helping them reach their full potential. One or two choices can completely change the trajectory of our lives, and this book helps us understand how and why. This book gave me a lot of hope for the kids facing difficult situations at home and in their neighborhoods.

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  • Olga B.
  • 21-05-18

He doesn't know what made the difference! Really?

I almost threw the book across the room when I got to the part where the author dats that he doesn't know what made the difference between him and the other Wes Moore! Are you serious? You literally wrote a book about it! YOUR MOTHER and YOUR ENVIRONMENT made the difference! If it wasn't for her pulling you out of the ghetto, and putting you into a respectable environment of the military school, you'd end up similar to the other Wes Moore. I hope to God, you thank your mother every day for it; and if you don't I hope she beats you with a slipper!

Are we sure the author went to John Hopkins? I watched an interview with him and he said the word "especially" like "eXpecially". That was it for me. I needed to eXscape the ignorance!

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  • Carson
  • 25-04-18

Enjoyed much more listening than reading

hard book to read and follow, easier when narrated. book jumped around is easier to understand on here

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  • Sarinab
  • 06-04-18

Great story for everyone !

this is a great story I highly recommend especially to young pople struggling to find themselves

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-03-18

So amazing!

This was an amazing book with such unique stories. The beat part is that Wes Moore does the narration. It makes it that much more enjoyable.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-03-18

Buy my book!

I liked the story for the majority but it seemed to me like it was just a book campaign throwing down the other Wes Moore saying that through perseverance he succeeded when in actually he didn’t really do all that much, he just had the components for him to succeed and all I hear from the book is “Buy my book because now I’m successful” I’m not a huge fan, I would have rather heard the story from the other Wes Moore’s perspective.

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  • lily
  • 11-03-18

5 stars

This is one of the best books I have ever read/listened to. It was so real. The experience of two people having similar but parallel lives. It’s a must read for any adolescent. Junior high and high school English teacher should really consider using this book in their curriculum. It’s thought provoking and makes a great class discussions that other wise young people wouldn’t have at home.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-02-18

loved it

loved it. very powerful story and a good reminder to all about the choices we make in life