Review: The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore: One Name and Two Fates by Wes Moore

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (April 27, 2010 )

Source: Goodreads Giveaway



Two hauntingly similar boys take starkly different paths in this searing tale of the ghetto.

Moore, an investment banker, Rhodes scholar, and former aide to Condoleezza Rice, was intrigued when he learned that another Wes Moore, his age and from the same area of Greater Baltimore, was wanted for killing a cop.

Meeting his double and delving into his life reveals deeper likenesses: raised in fatherless families and poor black neighborhoods, both felt the lure of the money and status to be gained from dealing drugs. That the author resisted the criminal underworld while the other Wes drifted into it is chalked up less to character than to the influence of relatives, mentors, and expectations that pushed against his own delinquent impulses, to the point of exiling him to military school.

Moore writes with subtlety and insight about the plight of ghetto youth, viewing it from inside and out; he probes beneath the pathologies to reveal the pressures—poverty, a lack of prospects, the need to respond to violence with greater violence—that propelled the other Wes to his doom. The result is a moving exploration of roads not taken.

To be honest, this was the first memoir I have read in a really long time. I normally don’t read memoirs, but the summary of the book provided by both Goodreads and Amazon was too intriguing to pass up.

The book examines the lives of two boys who coincidentally were both named Wes Moore, both grew up around the same time, both lived in the low income areas of Baltimore and both were fatherless. Despite the eerily similarities between the two, somewhere along the way, the two grew up to live completely different lives. While the author, Wes Moore, was able to maintain his freedom and live a fulfilling life, the other Wes Moore sits in prison serving a life sentence for taking part in the murdering of a cop.

Wes Moore was able to develop a meaningful story about the choices and decisions we have to make in life and how those decisions will influence our future. The question being asked throughout the book is why was one Wes Moore able to grow up to be someone successful while the other Wes Moore, who had to overcome similar circumstances, ended up in jail. I appreciated how the author Wes Moore did not attempt to answer the question and rather he let the readers draw their own conclusions. He put the facts of their two journeys out there for us and let us analyzed them as we wish.

Overall, it was a truly motivating and meaningful story that I believe everyone should read. I think this book should be a required reading in high school because it may shed light to some folks in the younger generation who believe the only way they can make money is through drugs and violence. The book has a message for everyone and you may learn something from the stories of these two lives.

[ purchase from amazon ] [ visit the author ]


Posted on May 2, 2010, in 5 stars, book reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. i love a good memoir and this sounds wonderful! i’d never heard of it before, but i’m definitely adding it to my wishlist. thanks for the great review!

  2. This sounds like an intriguing read. Thanks for stopping by my blog and I’ll be sure to be checking in on your future reviews!

    • I really enjoyed the book and I wholeheartedly recommend it. I’ve been trying to convince my brother to read it.
      You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by here too.

  3. I’m so excited to read this! Thanks for linking this review in your comment. I love well-written memoirs. This one sounds particularly good.

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