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The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  23,644 Ratings  ·  3,213 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2010)
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Deb M. For both of the Wes Moores first it is the death of their father.
Second for both is having strong mothers.
Third for both is seeing their peers thrive…more
For both of the Wes Moores first it is the death of their father.
Second for both is having strong mothers.
Third for both is seeing their peers thrive with ill-gotten gains.
Fourth for Wes the Author was the move into grandparents home.
Fourth for Wes the Prisoner was seeing his brother and his life.
Fifth for Wes the Author was sluffing off in school and mother not tolerating it.
Fifth for Wes the Prisoner was his mother believing his BS about where his new found wealth came from.
Sixth for Wes the Author was his mother sending him off to military boarding school.
Sixth for Wes the Prisoner was seeing the futility of the criminal life and joining Job Corp.
Seventh for Wes the Author was the strong influence of good role models.
Seventh for Wes the Prisoner was not being able to find a decent job after the Job Corp. (less)

Community Reviews

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Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Holly Williams
Oct 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
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 ...more
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
May 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Felipe Cordoba
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Dec 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Apr 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, first-reads
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
Apr 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
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 ...more
Tamara Sam
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club, my-ebooks
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
Richard Derus
Oct 15, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud!
Ms. Parks
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 02, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
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.
Apr 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Beth Sammons
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 14, 2010 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sera by: Shelia
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). ...more
jv poore
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.

******** ******* ******* ******* ******* *********
I just received this as a thank-you gift from a student, but I've been the receiver, not the gi
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nancy Kennedy
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Anna O'connell
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it
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 ...more
P.J. O'Brien
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-in-2017
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
Nov 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
I chose this book on a whim last night when I was looking for a new 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 ...more
Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Anne Hershewe
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating story about how two people with the same name, born into very similar environments and circumstances, end up in completely different places. There are so many points where you see how one Wes's life could have taken a turn and gone in an entirely different direction such that he would have shared the same fate as the other Wes. Though it would usually frustrate me, I kind of appreciated that the author Wes didn't really know what to tell readers to take away from this stor ...more
Apr 29, 2010 rated it liked it
After hearing the author being interviewed on NPR, I immediately put this book on hold at the library. This young man took an intriguing concept and turned it into a well-written, interesting book.

The author grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, with his mom and two sisters. His dad died when he was young, and his mom struggled to keep him on the straight and narrow given all the urban pressures of growing up black in the city. She scrimps and saves to get him into private school, but he chafes as he
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Wes Moore is a youth advocate, Army combat veteran, promising business leader and author.

Wes graduated Phi Theta Kappa as a commissioned officer from Valley Forge Military College in 1998 and Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations. At Johns Hopkins he was honored by the Maryland College Football Hall of Fame. He completed an MLitt i
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“The choices we make about the lives we live determine the kinds of legacies we leave.” 67 likes
“When it is time for you to leave this school, leave your job, or even leave this earth, you make sure you have worked hard to make sure it mattered you were even here.” 43 likes
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