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The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

29 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

A powerful and insightful look into what makes us tick and the role our families and influences play in our outcomes. Already an accomplished human being, Wes Moore is still on an upward track and a rising star. This is a must read book!

I had never heard of Wes Moore before I was lucky enough to be in the audience at the Oprah Winfrey Show when he was a guest (air date 04/27/10). As a parting gift, we received an advance copy of The Other Wes Moore. In the few minutes that this Wes Moore was on stage...
I had never heard of Wes Moore before I was lucky enough to be in the audience at the Oprah Winfrey Show when he was a guest (air date 04/27/10). As a parting gift, we received an advance copy of The Other Wes Moore. In the few minutes that this Wes Moore was on stage, I was immediately struck by his charisma, enthusiasm for life and belief in a brighter future for others who begin life as he did. I read the book from cover-to-cover the moment I returned home.

As I read, I was searching for the thought processes that made this Wes Moore, successful and upwardly mobile in life and the other Wes, headed for defeat and failure. I wanted to know what this Wes Moore was made of - whether innately there or implanted and nurtured by others. The book sheds light on this.

Our Wes Moore comments, "Young boys are more likely to believe in themselves if they know that there's someone, somewhere, who shares that belief. To carry the burden of belief alone is too much for most young shoulders." At crucial junctures when our Wes was unable to carry the burden, his mother, friends, grandparents and mentors helped shoulder it with him but he remained part of the mix.

By contrast, from prison, the other Wes Moore comments, "We take other's expectations of us and make them our own. The expectations that others place on us help us form our expectations of ourselves. We will do what others expect of us. If they expect us to graduate, we will graduate. If they expect us to get a job, we will get a job. If they expect us to go to jail, then that's where we will end up too. At some point you lose control." To that, our Wes Moore, adds, "True, but it's easy to lose control when you were never looking for it in the first place."

Both Wes Moores started out with the odds stacked against them and innately, I think, both wanted to succeed but there finally came a time when they each chose a different path for themselves. At a later point in his life when our Wes is firmly on the right path, he visits South Africa and speaks with a woman who survived apartheid. She states, "The common bond of humanity and decency that we share is stronger than any conflict, any adversity, and challenge. Fighting for your convictions is important but finding peace is paramount. Knowing when to fight and when to seek peace is wisdom." Also in South Africa, Wes meets a boy who is days away from going through the Xhosa adult circumcision ritual and when Wes asks if the boy is scared of the pain and the process, the boy replies, "It's not the process you should focus on; it's the joy you will feel after you go through the process."

That sums up the meaning of this book for me. Life is a process and the end result is the prize. Our Wes Moore is deserving of joy. He has earned it and he continues to pay it forward in his life.

I am now a fan of Wes Moore. I have no doubt that his name will become a household one once the Oprah show airs and his book hits newsstands. Pick up several copies, as I have, to give as gifts to those looking for inspiration. A local Boys and Girls Club or other families-helping-families type organization would benefit greatly from this book.

Ultimately, I think you are left with the realization that we are responsible for ourselves and for each other. These are not mutually exclusive events. Wes benefited from a loving, self-sacrificing family but he kept himself as part of the equation. The other Wes didn't.

posted by PM1968 on April 20, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

Over hyped book

I was very disappointed with this book. I first heard the "author" Wes Moore interviewed on NPR, he was on the Oprah show, and then I saw him on Steven Colbert's show. So I fell for all the hype and bought the book. I understand he is not a writer and this is his fir...
I was very disappointed with this book. I first heard the "author" Wes Moore interviewed on NPR, he was on the Oprah show, and then I saw him on Steven Colbert's show. So I fell for all the hype and bought the book. I understand he is not a writer and this is his first book but this book rambles on and jumps from one topic to another, I still don't see the point of the book. The only thing he has in common with the other Wes Moore is his name and the area where he once lived, many years earlier. What bothered me is that anyone can figure out the obvious, these two people are completely different. Just because you have the same last name and once lived in the same area does not mean anything. What is the purpose of this book? These two people could not have been raised more different, it's like comparing oranges to apples, there is no comparison. I just don't understand what the purpose of the book was? Two guys have the same name and one succeeded in life and one is in jail? I wonder why (sarcastic)? Another thing that really bothered me is, anyone knows that it's how you are raised, your family, your environment; he barely remarks on the other Wes Moore's environment. He quickly mentions the first time Wes smoked marijuana is when he found it in his mother's closet, the man she was living with was there when he came home high and laughed at him. He mentions that the other Wes Moore's mother was celebrating her baby's first birthday when she found out his own girlfriend was pregnant and his brother Tony already had a baby; apparently we guess his mother wasn't married, he sees his father on the couch of a relative's home and his dad asks who is he? The book jumps from one subject to the other with no explanation, with no reasoning, it's just very badly written. The "author's" life is completely different, his father passed away when he was only three, his one memory of his father was a fond memory. He knows his father loved him, his parents are educated, his grand parents are educated and accomplished in ministry, and he was surrounded by family and love. His mother did all she could to send him to the best private schools, even got him a lunch meeting with the Dean of Admissions at John Hopkins University and despite his weak SAT scores he miraculously got into John Hopkins. How and why he would compare his life with the other Wes Moore's life? We are all the product of our environment, we all have choices to make, some of us like the "author" Wes Moore got extremely lucky in life and in my opinion undeserving of acceptance into John Hopkins, much less a Rhode Scholarship, but ok he got one, good for him. He now has an over rated and over hyped book he somehow got people buying. There are so many better books out there that really explores the economic and social issues in a child's life and the difference a loving environment makes. I would have been more impressed if he was raised in an environment like the other Wes Moore and still made the right choices, that would have been an accomplishment. Does anyone need this book to tell you what statistics have already told us, a loving environment with family support, love and encouragement is better than an environment where your mom is on drugs, your father has abandoned you and your older brother you admire is a drug dealer? His life and this book is so over rated, God bless him for another amazing accomplishment.

posted by SophiaGirl on July 7, 2010

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  • Posted July 7, 2010

    Over hyped book

    I was very disappointed with this book. I first heard the "author" Wes Moore interviewed on NPR, he was on the Oprah show, and then I saw him on Steven Colbert's show. So I fell for all the hype and bought the book. I understand he is not a writer and this is his first book but this book rambles on and jumps from one topic to another, I still don't see the point of the book. The only thing he has in common with the other Wes Moore is his name and the area where he once lived, many years earlier. What bothered me is that anyone can figure out the obvious, these two people are completely different. Just because you have the same last name and once lived in the same area does not mean anything. What is the purpose of this book? These two people could not have been raised more different, it's like comparing oranges to apples, there is no comparison. I just don't understand what the purpose of the book was? Two guys have the same name and one succeeded in life and one is in jail? I wonder why (sarcastic)? Another thing that really bothered me is, anyone knows that it's how you are raised, your family, your environment; he barely remarks on the other Wes Moore's environment. He quickly mentions the first time Wes smoked marijuana is when he found it in his mother's closet, the man she was living with was there when he came home high and laughed at him. He mentions that the other Wes Moore's mother was celebrating her baby's first birthday when she found out his own girlfriend was pregnant and his brother Tony already had a baby; apparently we guess his mother wasn't married, he sees his father on the couch of a relative's home and his dad asks who is he? The book jumps from one subject to the other with no explanation, with no reasoning, it's just very badly written. The "author's" life is completely different, his father passed away when he was only three, his one memory of his father was a fond memory. He knows his father loved him, his parents are educated, his grand parents are educated and accomplished in ministry, and he was surrounded by family and love. His mother did all she could to send him to the best private schools, even got him a lunch meeting with the Dean of Admissions at John Hopkins University and despite his weak SAT scores he miraculously got into John Hopkins. How and why he would compare his life with the other Wes Moore's life? We are all the product of our environment, we all have choices to make, some of us like the "author" Wes Moore got extremely lucky in life and in my opinion undeserving of acceptance into John Hopkins, much less a Rhode Scholarship, but ok he got one, good for him. He now has an over rated and over hyped book he somehow got people buying. There are so many better books out there that really explores the economic and social issues in a child's life and the difference a loving environment makes. I would have been more impressed if he was raised in an environment like the other Wes Moore and still made the right choices, that would have been an accomplishment. Does anyone need this book to tell you what statistics have already told us, a loving environment with family support, love and encouragement is better than an environment where your mom is on drugs, your father has abandoned you and your older brother you admire is a drug dealer? His life and this book is so over rated, God bless him for another amazing accomplishment.

    10 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2012

    Leafkit

    Yes? (Gtg ed bbl.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2012

    Icekit

    Icekit limped around. She broke her hind leg.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 11, 2011

    Overrated

    There are many things in this book to be valued. It goes without saying that one of the overall messages - the danger of urban decay - is more topical than ever in some urban districts around the US.

    However, the book itself was very erratic. Although all the woven stories were completed by the end, Moore jumped back and forth far too often than was needed to compare the two main characters, and delved into many unnecessary tangents.
    He often interrupts the flow of things with statistics and facts about the environment.

    While the occasional barrage of dates and studies gives some parts of the book a well-founded feel, as if it's a documentary, at the same time there are other parts that make it feel more like an over-dramatized work of fiction. Broad generalizations about troubled children, for instance, and descriptive tangents driven by emotions of other characters besides the protagonist, which, in reality, the author would have no way of knowing these real people were feeling. I think he got carried away with these emotional descriptions on many, many occasions. I think in the long run the story would have been a lot more powerful without this blend of dramatization and documentary-style statistics and facts. If he had just chosen one or the other.

    Another theme I thought was rather presumptuously explored by Moore was that of the environment's role in a person's choices, versus free will. At one point, the convict Wes Moore tells the author that he wholeheartedly blames the environment for the decisions he made, for becoming a murderer and being put in jail. The author Wes Moore wholeheartedly disagrees. He seemed almost disgusted at the convict's remarks, that the convict wouldn't take responsibility for what he did and for all the people he harmed. Because the author Wes Moore takes responsibility for EVERYTHING that's happened to him in his life. After all, WHY WOULDN'T HE? He rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, spoke in front of tens of thousands at INVESCO Field in Denver, JUST HOURS before Obama accepted the nomination and forty-five years TO THE DAY of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. he's climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, fought for his country, graduated an elite school college, helped troubled middle-school kids in Baltimore - this man thinks that everybody should aspire to life like his, and, through his "troubled" past, he wants his story to be that of a victorious enterprising. No matter how big of a role his DIFFERENT environment played.

    Sure, they might have been born in the same city, they might have both grown up without a father, dealt with drugs (likes the hundreds of thousands of other people in the US at the time) but other than them sharing the same name, there isn't much at all similar about their environments, or them. The author had positive influences in his life. He was sent to military school, which was possibly best thing that could have happened to him, and it was done so AGAINST HIS WILL. To say that the other Wes Moore was presented with the same opportunities as the author is extremely presumptuous and on the verge of a downright lie. And even if the other Wes Moore was presented with the same opportunities, they weren't described very well in this book.

    Read The Other Wes Moore if you want to help boost the author's overhyped ego.

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