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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 January 2, 2012

    Great book; Outlines the realities the lives of people living in a poverty stricken community and shows how one's decisions can lead to their success or failure.

    Great book; at first glance this book looks interesting, but once you start it, you will soon see it is even more than that. The lives of two men with the same name but completely different fates is shown in this novel in a way that parallels them both in order to show their similarities and differences. As author Wes Moore slowly but surely matured, he began to understand the realities of life and worked hard to become an educated and successful man. The other Wes Moore seemed to know deep down the realities of becoming involved with the drug business but had no one to truly guide him given his father's absence and his mother struggling to make ends meet in a poverty stricken community. However, his affiliation with the drug game soon "snowballed" from a business in order to make ends meet to a violent and hate-filled life. When this lifestyle seemed to take him over, his life worsened as he spent time in and out of jail for various crimes. The reality is that either of these men could have had the other's life had they chosen their decisions in a different manner. The author does a good job of revealing this to the audience and leaves them with this idea to think about: how would things have been different if one of the two decided to act differently? While growing up, author Wes Moore saw the realities of the drug game and could have ended up in the same shoes as the other Wes Moore had it not been for the guidance of his mother. Similarly, the other Wes Moore could have just as easily turned his life around had he spent more time to think of how becoming involved in the drug game would affect his life. In reality our decisions are what make us who we are, and decide our fate in life. The only negative part of this book are the early parts of the book where the author describes the stories of each characters' families and how they ended up in the city that they did. But overall, this is a well-written book that does a great job of showing the importance of one's decisions and how anyone can change their life by thinking how their actions will influence where they end up in life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2014

    A very good read about the dynamics of family structure and step

    A very good read about the dynamics of family structure and stepping in to help your child's fate will really get them past the points of no returns.I like how it just gave us a parallel timeline into the lives of two young men and shows how actions and decisions do affect the outcome of quality of life. The old adage what you do today, affects tomorrow really rings true. Also that someone's earlier walk of life does not dictate the direction of things to come. The more life experience and culture you are influenced by shapes your big picture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    Sydxxx

    Xxxxxxxx deranged from curb hides Chung Franky chill breach hull Chavez crop Pyrex bbl hum bijou thrU trek Yehudi Hirsch kingpin greatest Krug bedbug receded deuce enough genetic bric chic moon vs. McCullough kinetic cleric tranquil genetic ok thanks bye

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2012

    Brindletail

    I come from blazeclan.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    Thought provoking...

    This book is a testament to our current social policies. It illustrates the profound consequences the difficulty of accessing positive resources can have on an individual. It also demonstrates how a few small choices can change a life forever. I have to admit, I would very much like to read this story from the Other Wes Moore's point of view as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2012

    An excellent story of how families and influences help to determ

    An excellent story of how families and influences help to determine our outcomes. Very easy to read. Great selection for a book club, teacher, youth counselor, pastor, parents, and even young teens that are dealing with peer pressure and overcoming self-doubt.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2011

    Excellent!

    I didn't want to read this for my book club. Once I started I couldn't put it down. Truly a story to have you think about what could have been for the other Wes Moore

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  • Posted July 2, 2011

    It makes you think, how did I get here?

    An intersesting story on what influences determine where we end up in life. The fact that the two individuals had the same name and were from the same neighborhood makes you think of your own situation and wonder how things may have been different for people you grew up with or ,even for yourself

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  • Posted April 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    great story

    really makes you think how one moment or one person can alter the course of your life forever

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2010

    Point of No Return

    I picked this book up after seeing it promoted on the Colbert Report, and identified with Wes Moore (the author) who became transfixed with the idea that he could very easily have been the "other Wes Moore." It is an insightful look into the importance of positive mentors in our lives and reminds me of the Forest Witcraft poem: One Hundred Years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money was in my bank account, nor what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a better place because I was important in the life of a child. The real hero in this story is, in my opinion, the author's mother, Joy. She bent over backward to make good on her threat to send her son to military school, and that--combined with some positive mentors and attaking the problem before he reached a point of no return made the difference. In comparison, you can clearly see that point of no return in the other Wes Moore's story where after learning her son is going to be a father (at 13? 14?), she sort of stretches and says, "who wants cake?" She was throwing in the proverbial towel. Later in the story when he is a teenage father of four and realizing a regular job won't cut it and he turns back to drug dealing was basically anti-climatic. We already knew his fate. There are a few paragraphs at the end of the author's story where he hints that even with all his accomplishments, life wasn't all rosy and he's still done a few things he is ashamed of. The difference is there were people looking out for him to make sure he didn't pass that point of no return. Makes you think.

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  • Posted August 13, 2010

    Keeping it Real and Thought Provoking

    An inspiring yet sad real life comparison of 2 lives (2 men). One went awry and the other is achievement personified. I reflect on my own life - how certain events, certain people, certain choices have made me who I am, what I am.

    Read it if you want to search for your own truths and the lies you have told yourself.

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  • Posted April 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I also love Sugar's "The Silent Crisis Destroying America's Brightest Minds"

    In America, drugs are found in all neighborhoods and schools.

    Recently, a Yale student was found dead in his dorm room due to drug toxicity.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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