Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Other Wes Moore ~ Wes Moore review

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Spiegel & Grau
April 27, 2010
256 pages
Buy @ Amazon

Summary: Some of us sometimes see someone somewhere--a newspaper article, a magazine story, a TV show, a character in a novel--with the same name as us and wonder what their life must be like . . . or how hat makes us different. Wes Moore's story started that way.

In 2000, in his last year at Johns Hopkins University and soon after being named a Rhodes Scholar, he read a newspaper article about another man named Wes Moore on his way to prison for killing an off duty police officer. But Moore had more in common with the young man than just their name. They were from the same area of Baltimore, around the same age, both had lost their fathers at a young age, and both raised by their mothers, but their lives turned out very differently.

In this memoir of two lives, the author Wes Moore looks at what made the difference in two youg mens' lives. What was it that led to him fighting with the 82 Airborne in Afghanistan, speaking at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and working for Condoleeza Rice while the other Wes Moore is spending his life in prison? How did one man from so similar a background and so similar an area become a Rhodes Scholar, an author and accomplish so much and the other is known as the 'Other' Wes Moore now?

A quest to discover the 'what' or the 'why' led student Wes to write to prisoner Wes, an exchange that led to visits that led to the book.

Review: Through alternating chapters that tell each of the men's stories from childhood into adulthood, Wes Moore shows just how much he and his counterpart had in common. It's easy to see the little things as well, though, that possibly made big differences--for both boys.

The book (and the fact that there is a book) works so well because there's not one place where you can point to and say 'well that's where someone chose to fail him ergo he's a criminal'. His motehr tried, as did author Wes Moore's mother. Each boy's neighborhood worked to lure them into selling drugs.

As much as this is a book about how important education is or how important opportunities are, I think it can really be summed up by saying it's a book about: what matters in your life, but also making your life matter.

This book was the first one in my Daily Show & Colbert Report Reading Challenge and I am so glad I made that one up (even if no one else is ): ) because I might not have read this book otherwise. Wes Moore was very engaging on The Colbert Report and really, really sold his story and that of this book. And there was even more in this book that I had expected and I liked it even more than I had expected.

I recommend it highly-even if you don't typically like nonfiction--and it's a fast read. There are also lots of pages in the back of organizations where you can volunteer or just to get information.

Rating: 10/10

Media: The Other Wes Moore author Wes Moore on the Colbert Report

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Wes Moore

Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News


  1. I read this book in January and really liked it. It is on the 2012 Eliot Rosewater list for books aimed at YA readers in the state of Indiana. 20 books from a variety of genres in YA are nominated each year by the Indiana Library Federation, and then schools and public libraries work together to promote the books as highly engaging books to be read for pleasure/entertainment. I'm glad it was chosen and really enjoyed it, although it did make me sad to see the hard circumstances that so many young people face each day.


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