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The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  38,726 ratings  ·  4,523 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
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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)

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jv poore
I received this as a thank-you gift from a student. It was my pleasure & privilege to visit her senior English class every month to talk about books! I'm thinking about you, Chyna.

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 empath
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
Diane S ☔
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nfr-2020
Two young men of color, same name, different fates. This book really makes one think about the divisions one makes throughout their lives. What goes into these decisions, what effects the outcome. Lack of opportunity, pressure to make money, a mother that is overwhelmed, wanting to fit in, young prenthood, so many red flags. How to break the cycle without the means to do so. Even when given a second chance, outside pressure often dooms the person before he can take full advantage.

So, what is the
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
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
I used to think I had a unique name. In school I was the only one with my name, so, by default, teachers and acquaintances used to think that it was a typo for something else. This lead to some embarrassing moments but I have lived to tell the tale. Wes Moore of Baltimore, Maryland does not have a unique first or last name. While Westley is not all that common, Moore is a surname found throughout the United States, so by the law of averages a name has to recur eventually. When he was about to re ...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
Tracy Miller
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
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
Karl Jorgenson
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Two young men growing up in Baltimore have similar circumstances: poverty, loss of their father, access to gangs and drugs. Coincidentally, they share a name. One serves in the military and goes on to success; the other goes to prison.
The reason to read the book seemed to be a chance to see where bad Wes went wrong or good Wes went right. It turns out to be more simple and less certain than one would hope: good Wes had mentors who kept steering him to productive society, bad Wes had mainly his b
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was cool... something new, different, and such an intriguing concept! I've really been into nonfiction lately, and this one was no exception. The men in this book are named Wes Moore and Wes Moore. Two kids with the same name, similar ages, and living in the same city. Both had difficult childhoods, missing fathers, police run ins, similar types of friends, etc, etc. The author has ended up with a successful life - Rhodes Scholar and Veteran. The other Wes Moore is living the rest of h ...more
Jason Arias
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
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
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
Yes, Sir!! This book is a great way to spend time - considering on the consequences of choices we make all throughout our days, every day as the choser, and as the influencer of choices. We operate in so many different roles - leader, follower, parent, child, teacher, student, stranger, neighbor, hero, villan, friend, enemy, advocate, persecutor. . . .choices and roles interchange and tangle up within each of us every single day. Who are we going to be in this minute, in this class, in this day ...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
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
3 Stars for The Other Wes Moore (audiobook) by Wes Moore and Tavis Smiley read by Wes Moore. The author seemed to have trouble explaining the point to this story. It’s kind of interesting to see how two young men’s lives could start out so similar and then end up so different. But I was most fascinated by the achievements of the author. His story is really inspirational. There just wasn’t enough of it.
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, perhaps more so as I listened to the audio version, narrated by the author. The book is based on the true story of two young Black boys, growing up in 1980’s Baltimore under similar circumstances, both with the same name, Wes Moore, and realizing completely different outcomes to their lives. Wes Moore, the author, rises above the fray, graduating from military school as a high schooler, then going on to graduate from Johns Hopkins and Oxford, and becoming a Rhodes scholar. The ...more
Tamara Sam
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-ebooks, book-club
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
Kym Moore
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
~Choices and accountability made at the crossroads of which path to follow~

This book tells the compelling story of the contrast between the lives of two kids named Wes Moore, living in the same city, different neighborhoods, grew up for different reasons in single-parent homes while both did some stupid things that led to getting in trouble with the police. Sometimes rational thought while trying to function in a dysfunctional world is thrown out the window when confronted by circumstances tussl
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
catherine ♡
I think the premise for this was super interesting, and it had a lot of potential to be a really heartfelt read, because I quite liked some of the scenes, but in the long run the book fell a little flat for me. It was a lot of "tell", not "show", and it started to feel like a timeline of life events that I think could have been improved with more emotional emphasis. I also really loved the bits about South Africa and apartheid, and having just finished reading Trevor Noah's Born a Crime: Stories ...more
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. ...more
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
Richard Derus
Oct 15, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud! ...more
Miss Murder
Jun 19, 2020 rated it liked it
"Having an advocate on the inside...had obviously helped. It made me think deeply about the way privilege and preference work in the world, and how many kids who didn't have "luck" like mine in this instance would find themselves forever outside this ring of power and prestige. So many opportunities in this country are apportioned in this arbitrary and miserly way, distributed to those who already have the benefit of a privileged legacy."

Wes Moore & Wes Moore are two young black boys growing up
I gained very little, if anything, from this book. It is quite possible I would have gotten more had I read it in middle or even grade school, as it seems certain users on this site were made to do, but as it stands, this work is little more than a cog in society's efforts to force the individual to internalize social problems rather than recognize that the fault lies in larger social mechanics. There's also the matter that this work is far shorter than I was led to believe, and while I'm certai ...more
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
What if your life had taken a different path? How would you be different? How would your life be different?

That is the premise of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, a book I heard about when it first came out and which I have watched over the last several years. Wes Moore (the author) is a kid from Baltimore whose father died when he was three. His family moved to Brooklyn to live with his grandparents. He got into trouble, was arrested (and let off), and sent to military school by his 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
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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

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