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The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.
Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while ...
The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.
Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.
“This intriguing narrative is enlightening, encouraging, and empowering. Read these words, absorb their meanings, and create your own plan to act and leave a legacy.”—Tavis Smiley, from the Afterword
“[A] compassionate memoir—a story that explores how some survive and others sink in urban battlegrounds.”—People
“Moore vividly and powerfully describes not just the culture of the streets but how it feels to be a boy growing up in a world where violence makes you a man.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Inspiring . . . a story for our times.”—Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here
Excerpted from The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore Copyright © 2010 by Wes Moore. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Part I Fathers and Angels
1 Is Daddy Coming with Us? 5
2 In Search of Home 26
3 Foreign Ground 46
Part II Choices and Second Chances
4 Marking Territory 69
5 Lost 85
6 Hunted 108
Part III Paths taken and Expectations Fulfilled
7 The Land That God Forgot 129
8 Surrounded 146
A Call to Action by Tavis Smiley 185
Resource Guide 187
A Reader's Guide 241
2. During their youth, Wes and Wes spend most of their time in crime- ridden Baltimore and the Bronx. How important was that environment in shaping their stories and personalities?
3. Why do you think the incarcerated Wes continues to proclaim his innocence regarding his role in the crime for which he was convicted?
4. The book begins with Wes and Wes’s discussion of their fathers. What role do you think fatherhood plays in the lives of these men? How do the absence of their fathers and the differences in the reasons for their absences affect them?
5. Wes dedicates the book to “the women who helped shape [his] journey to manhood.” Discuss the way women are seen in Wes’s community. What impact do they have on their sons?
6. The author says “the chilling truth is that [Wes’s] story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.” To what extent do you think that’s true? What, ultimately, prevented their stories from being interchangeable?
7. Throughout the book, the author sometimes expresses confusion at his own motivations. Why do you think he is so driven to understand the other Wes’s life?
8. The author attributes Wes’s eventual incarceration to shortsightedness, an inability to critically think about the future. Do you agree?
9. Wes states that people often live up to the expectations projected on them. Is that true? If someone you care for expects you to succeed—or fail—will you? Where does personal accountability come into play?
10. Discuss the relationship between education and poverty. In your discussion, consider the education levels of both Weses’ mothers, how far each man got in his education, the opportunities they gained or lost as a result of their education, and their reasons for continuing or discontinuing their studies.
11. The book begins with a scene in which the author is reprimanded for hitting his sister. Why is it important for conflicts to be solved hrough means other than violence? In what way do the Weses differ in their approaches to physical confrontations, and why?
12. Why is the idea of “going straight” so unappealing to the incarcerated Wes and his peers? What does it mean for our culture to have such a large population living and working outside the boundaries of the law?
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.
29 out of 29 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 7, 2010
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.
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Moore isn't at all smug or self-righteous about how his life compares to that of the other Wes Moore. Nor does he pity the other Wes Moore. That's because there is a difference between reasons and excuses. That is, there are abundant reasons for the choices that the second Wes Moore made and their tragic consequences for himself, his family, and his victims. However, the first Wes Moore clearly doesn't regard any of those reasons as acceptable excuses. Both Wes Moores came to forks in their lives; one of them made-- or was forced to make-- the right choices, and the other one didn't. But they were choices, and they are ultimately responsible for making them. Moore never specifically says it, but nonetheless, as one reads his account of their parallel lives, the difference is in the ways that their mothers lived their own lives and reacted to what their sons were doing. Moore's mother was raised by college-educated parents, and she spent her life working and struggling to achieve things for herself and her family. She moved several times in an effort to find stable, safe places for her kids to grow up, and she worked several jobs so she could afford to put her kids into private schools. When it appeared that Moore was going to fall into the thug lifestyle, she sacrificed economically and emotionally to put him into a military school. In short, she simply refused to allow herself or her kids to succumb to the conditions and temptations that surrounded them. In contrast, the other Wes Moore's mother tried to resist those conditions and temptations, but she eventually did succumb to them. She simply gave up. At the same time, unlike the first Wes Moore's mother, she allowed her kids to see violence as an acceptable way to resolve problems in their lives. This is a compelling story told with passion and understanding. While the author is compassionate, he also makes clear that he is in no way excusing the other Wes Moore for his heinous deed. Even so, I imagine this is a tough book for the family of the slain policeman to read. If you want another great story of a young black man from Baltimore who succeeds thanks to his determined mother.
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Posted April 30, 2010
To those who drive down City streets and recognize the eyes of the many characters in this book, I challenge you not to look at them without a greater understanding. Wes Moore humbly portrays the tense hope that children born under these circumstances face each day. He illustrates what it takes to overcome great obstacles and how hard it is to find a bit of luck when it is so desparately needed. He portrays love in its many lights and manifestations while showing us the scary reality that hovers so closely over so many of our City children's lives. This book is a must read for anyone who is trying to understand what is going on with our kids and what they can do to help.
Thank you for such a beautifully written book.
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Posted May 28, 2010
Everyone should read this book. It will give you an understanding of how important our roles as parents,family and mentors are to our youth. In each section the views of both Wes Moore's are expressed, giving you an insight of how they viewed the world. This book isn't only a great read for adults but for our youth as will. After completing the book, I gave it to my 14 year old nephew. He loved it so much that he started to tell his friends about it. I think this book should be given out in schools, so our youth can see that there are others that are experiencing the same situations they are, and that achieving excellence is possible. This book is just Amazing!!
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Posted April 1, 2013
When I heard that my mom got me this book I thought to myself that this is going to be really stupid and not worth reading. But in the first chapter I was hooked. I couldn’t stop reading. My family is just like the good Wes Moore’s family because my mother is always telling me and yelling at me to go above and beyond what is expected. The weird thing about the story is that two kids with similar backgrounds that share the same name and lived close to each other take very different turns. One man gets into drugs and is eventually arrested for a mass murder. He is caught in an old abandoned house after 12 days and is sentenced to life in jail. The other kid grows up to write a book and become very successful. He is able to look back on his life and realize that all of his reprimanding from his mom is not going to waste. Sometimes the other Wes Moore's family will come to visit him in jail but it is never like the family that the good Wes Moore has. I believe that this book is a very good read and I totally agree with the most helpful review because he/she says “A powerful and insightful look into what makes us tick and the role our families and influences play in our outcomes.” I really think that that statement sums up the entire book because it fells like you can take one road in life or the other and you are hoping that you pick the right one. In this case one Wes Moore went one way and the other went the other way. I believe that this book is a very good book for anyone of all ages.
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Posted July 26, 2012
Posted January 8, 2012
Although the book The Other Wes Moore is used as a cautionary tale against what may happen to one who falls down the wrong path, it fails to uphold this standard in many ways. The book starts off by introducing the author, Wes Moore, and a man who shares the same name but a different fate. Both men grew up in the same area, had the same family problems, and had the same problems with school yet one Wes Moore becomes a Rhodes Scholar and an outstanding student while the other ends up in prison. Not only did this book leave the reader with many unanswered questions, it revealed the underlying answer to the story’s conflict: money. Without money the author would have never been able to attend military school. Without military school the author would have continued to do poorly in school and could have just as easily ended up as Wes Moore. The fact that money was one of the main reasons the author became who he was makes this story very unappealing and I think it sends the wrong message to our nation’s youth. Another thing that threw me off was a part in the story where the author, while attending military school, asks one of his friends Sean the question: “Do you think what life would ever be like if we never came here?” Sean simply replies, “About the same I guess”, and the author agrees with him so easily. The reason this throws me off is because I thought military school made the huge difference between the two Wes Moore’s yet the author makes it seem like his life would be the same if he had not attended the school. This leads me into my second reason of why this book was not captivating: it did not fully explain the characters’ stories. The book skipped around a lot and left many missing parts. For example when the author first attends military school he is very insubordinate and tries to escape, and by the start of the next chapter he becomes platoon sergeant and commands his own platoon. The book never fully explained what the author did in order to get to where he was. Some parts of the stories were overly developed while some, such as this part in particular, left the reader confused. All in all, this book had good intentions but failed to be the outstanding book I think it should have been. I feel like if this book was more precisely written and had fully developed its plot then it definitely would have deserved 4 or even 5 stars.
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Posted May 6, 2011
Shortly before he died, my father started planning to write a book about why some kids do and some kids don't "make it." After working as an educator for decades in the Chicago public school system, he recognized that was a story that needed desperately to be told. Wes Moore has told that story very well. As Lauryn Hill so eloquently stated, "consequence is no coincidence." Without judgement or excuses, Wes Moore carefully and thoughtfully illustrates how the choices made for and by these two young men resulted in very different consequences. Special note: I "read" the audio book version. It is read by the author. He has a great voice and the recording quality is excellent. Among the very best audio books I have "read."
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 2, 2012
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 28, 2010
this book was very interesting and insightful...it is a shame that the police officer was killed and his family was left without him..Wes, the author also had to live without a father...but let's not look at the tragedy but what can become from it..the epilogue includes groups that need volunteers to help influence children in a good way..
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Posted February 12, 2015
Yes, environment plays a role on our lives. But you have to have the want to learn and succeed. I know people in their 30s today who don't care to work and they came from professional parents. We will always have the bad in society, all we can do is offer some info for them to succeed. Personal choices are just that. I do have a public school teacher in the family and I am passing my copy to him because I still believe knowledge is power.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 8, 2015
Posted September 19, 2014
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 1, 2014
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 byeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2014
Posted May 2, 2014
I would recommend this book to an older audience from the ages of sixteen to around someone in their thirties. I’ve always wanted to know or meet someone with the same name as me, I couldn't imagine growing up in the same neighborhood with someone with the same name as me. The purpose of The Other Wes Moore was very interesting. I really enjoyed how the Wes Moore jumped from himself to “The Other Wes Moore.” The book really shows how bad some kids had it in the city of Baltimore. It also showed how easily someone can turn their life around. The family influence that Wes had was amazing to me. They helped him with so much after the tragic accident happened in his family. I also enjoyed how the whole story was told in just Wes’ point of view. The struggles “The Other Wes Moore” goes through in the book are primalery from alcohol and drugs and how they affected his life. It was amazing to just see how many little details changed both of their lives dramatically. This book gives great examples of what life would be like growing up in a rough neighborhood and what you could do to change it. I believe Wes Moore did a great job at explaining some of the racism that went on back in that time. He also talks about the troubles of growing up without a father. This book deserves endless amounts of awards and should be noticed for how great of a book it is.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2014
Have you ever wondered how different your life would be had you made some different choices along the way? “The Other Wes Moore” is a non-fiction novel written by Wes Moore detailing the key differences between his life and the life of another Wes Moore, who happened to grow up on the same streets of Baltimore. The author Wes Moore is a successful entrepreneur, Rhodes Scholar, and decorated veteran who later learned of the other Wes Moore who is now spending the rest of his life in state prison for charges of manslaughter. With the consent of Wes, and through hundreds of hours of story telling and listening, he compares and contrasts the paths the two men took to end up where they are now.
“The Other Wes Moore” is an inspiring piece of insight on these two lives, making it very easy to read, while also keeping the reader hooked. He uses chapters as break points, switching perspectives from Wes to himself on every other chapter, keeping their ages aligned with one another. This allows for the constant comparison between the decisions they made growing up, where they hung out, who they hung out with, and what activities they partook in. Using this method helps the reader understand at what ages and points in time the difference started to set in. You really get to know both Wes’ on what seems like a personal level, and rightly so, considering this is essentially an auto-biography. He doesn’t dive too deep into the characters around the two men, but that’s okay because none of them play a particularly large role in the lasting outcome. Although you don’t learn much about these characters, you hear every thought that both Wes’ have about them, which proves to enough for you to feel like you truly understand the relationship between them. Overall, the writing style was excellent, keeping the book intriguing without over-challenging the reader, also making it very easy to pick up right where you left off.
The idea of the story is phenomenal, and the execution is even better. Wes Moore helps you understand what it is like to grow up in horrid conditions, like the streets of Baltimore. He also helps you realize how easily you can be lead into a life behind bars, or how you can do the exact opposite and live the life of a successful independent. Mr. Moore does a great job of highlighting pivotal events between the two young men, as the ones that influenced the final destination the most. I felt a little unsatisfied in the end, as it almost seemed like Wes Moore was rushed to finish the story, I didn’t get the full sense of closure I was hoping for. Don’t let that scare you away, besides that small bit of error, the story greatly exceeded my expectations in many ways.
All in all, I must suggest this book to anyone who is even slightly interested, as it is an inspiring, lesson teaching story that can truly put your life and values in perspective.
Posted August 22, 2013
Posted July 12, 2013