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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; Reprint edition (January 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385528205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528207
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 3.1 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (350 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. (May 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 2000, Wes Moore had recently been named a Rhodes Scholar in his final year of college at Johns Hopkins University when he read a newspaper article about another Wes Moore who was on his way to prison. It turned out that the two of them had much in common, both young black men raised in inner-city neighborhoods by single mothers. Stunned by the similarities in their names and backgrounds and the differences in their ultimate fates, the author eventually contacted the other Wes Moore and began a long relationship. Moore visited his namesake in prison; he was serving a life sentence, convicted for his role in an armed robbery that resulted in the killing of an off-duty policeman. Growing up, both men were subject to the pitfalls of urban youth: racism, rebellion, violence, drug use, and dealing. The author examines eight years in the lives of both Wes Moores to explore the factors and choices that led one to a Rhodes scholarship, military service, and a White House fellowship, and the other to drug dealing, prison, and eventual conversion to the Muslim faith, with both sharing a gritty sense of realism about their pasts. Moore ends this haunting look at two lives with a call to action and a detailed resource guide. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Wes Moore's story is an amazing one.
Su Chu
It will make you think about how important the smallest of choices can be in your life.
Judy Lyon
This book is a fantastic and easy read.
Amy Martin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 125 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In 2000, a Baltimore newspaper ran a story with the headline, "Local Graduate Named Rhodes Scholar." It was a story about the author, Wes Moore, a young black man who rose from the drug, crime and poverty-stricken streets of the city to attain this prestigious academic honor.

Several months earlier, in the same paper, Mr. Moore had noticed a series of articles about two young black men who killed a Baltimore policeman while robbing a jewelry store. The name of one of the killers struck him: his name was Wes Moore.

This coincidence prompts the author to seek out "the other Wes Moore." He contacts Wes in prison. "How did this happen?" he asks. The question jumpstarts the story of these two young men whose life paths diverged, one into triumph, the other into tragedy.

The author comes to realize that this seemingly complicated story, a too-familiar story that is freighted with societal, economic and racial impact, comes down to a few simple moments in time. "These forks in the road can happen so fast for young boys," he says. "Within months or even weeks, their journeys can take a decisive and possibly irrevocable turn."

I would more specifically pin the divergence on the boys' mothers. The author is born into a two-parent home, both parents college educated, but his father dies when Wes is just three. His mother moves to the Bronx, so that her parents can help provide a stable home life. She works multiple jobs so that she can put her boys in private school. When the author starts to feel the pull of the streets, she packs him off to military school.

The other Wes Moore grows up in a single-parent household of starkly different character. His father is absent and his mother frequently dumps him on friends and family so she can go out clubbing.
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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful By L. F. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At first glance, this book looks like an interesting read based on an unusual coincidence. A young Baltimore man named Wes Moore, an Army officer who had just graduated from Johns Hopkins and was named a Rhodes Scholar, learned that another young Baltimore man also named Wes Moore had just been sentenced to life in prison without parole for his role in a robbery that resulted in the murder of an off-duty policeman. The first Wes Moore naturally began to wonder about why he had avoided the fate of the second Wes Moore, even though their surroundings and upbringings had been quite similar. So, in a way, this is a "Wow! It could have been me in prison!" story.

That probably would have made for an interesting book, but Moore chose to examine his life and the second Wes Moore's life in parallel with one another in an effort to determine where-- and, more importantly, why-- their fates diverged. That makes this an important book, because it raises a critical question: What makes so many young men-- and particularly black, poor young men raised mostly by their mothers-- choose the drug trade and all of the violence that attends it as a career?

As it turns out, Moore can't answer that question. As he explains, both he and the other Wes Moore were raised at the same time in the same high-poverty, drug- and crime-plagued area. They both began to struggle in school at about the same time. They both had early brushes with the law due to petty crimes at about the same time. However, their lives took dramatically different paths.

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.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Book lover -Philadelphia on June 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a very well-written book, with a fascinating story to tell. It's clear that the author has done his research and he demonstrates the reason for "the other" West Moore's life turning out the way it did. What is less excellent is that he does not provide the same level of insight into his own life, particularly in his teen-age and later years. [We get a great deal of detail of his early life and his feelings of displacement, his skipping school, etc.]. Yes, he tells what happened and what he did but he leaves out the guts. For example, he goes from describing the initial days of Valley Forge Military Academy to, suddenly, his position as leader of the 700-strong Cadet Corps. What happened in between? Yes, he names his mentors there but what did HE do? For another example, he attends junior college at VFMA - and, suddenly, he is eligible for Johns Hopkins despite less-than-required grades. OK, it appears that there was some affirmative action here but that would not account for his graduating from Hopkins Phi Beta Kappa (at least, I hope not). What happened to make him such a stellar student?

It's clear by the end of the book that the author is a star - and I'm not giving away anything that is not on the book jacket. Unfortunately, I didn't feel that I really knew him or what made him tick. Nonetheless, I would recommend the book for the extraordinarily detailed and insightful portrait of his and the other Wes' early lives.
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91 of 104 people found the following review helpful By RJD on October 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a forensic psychologist, I was quite intrigued by the premise of the book but ultimately disappointed. It is presented as a study in how two boys with such similar backgrounds could have ended up in such different places - one a Rhode Scholar with a promising career in finance, the other convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. The author, Rhode Scholar Wes Moore, makes the argument that his childhood was very similar to that of the other Wes Moore, convicted felon. But from the very first chapter, the vast differences in their upbringing (even genetics) is apparent. It is never hard to understand how their lives ended up so differently - the Rhode Scholar was born into a loving, intact family with 2 college educated parents. Even after the tragic death of his father, his family remains a strong support in his life, with all sorts of relatives offering both financial and emotional support. Contrast that with the other Wes Moore, who is born to a single mother, the second of her children born out of brief, unstable relationships with alcoholic uninvolved fathers. They are worlds apart from the moment of conception but this is not acknowledged or perhaps understood by the author - at one point he acknowledges that having an adult who is invested in your well-being is key to children's healthy development but then doesn't relate this to how different his life was (with the support of an uncle, grandfather and a very strong and involved mother) from the other Wes Moore (whose mother left him unattended from age 8 and whose primary influence was a criminally involved older brother).

In the end, I was left with the impression that this was a vanity project for the author.
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