Publisher: Spiegel & Grau, 2010
Source: Portland Public Library
Why I Read The Book: Recommended by my son-in-law
My Rating: A
The author of this book, Wes Moore, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from John Hopkins University. He earned an MLitt in International Relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. In the same Baltimore newspaper that reported on Wes’ Rhodes Scholar’s award was a story about another Wes Moore. It told of the capture of a suspect in an armed robbery and murder of an off-duty police officer. That coincidence prompted the author Wes Moore to seek out information about the other Wes Moore. From his website:
Wes [Moore, the author,] wondered how two young men from the same city, who were around the same age, and even shared a name, could arrive at two completely different destinies. The juxtaposition between their lives, and the questions it raised about accountability, chance, fate and family, had a profound impact on Wes.
He decided to write to the other Wes Moore, and much to his surprise, a month later he received a letter back. He visited the other Wes in prison over a dozen times, spoke with his family and friends, and discovered startling parallels between their lives: both had difficult childhoods, they were both fatherless, were having trouble in the classroom; they’d hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and had run into trouble with the police.
Yet at each stage of their lives, at similar moments of decision, they would head down different paths towards astonishingly divergent destinies. Wes realized in their two stories was a much larger tale about the consequences of personal responsibility and the imperativeness of education and community for a generation of boys searching for their way. (from the author’s website here.)
And so the impetus for this great book was born.
Comparing the lives of similar people was absolutely riveting. I couldn’t stop reading and thinking about the two men. To think that each man’s life could have gone the other way. Their single moms made different decisions about education which make some difference. But, the pivotal difference seems to be in the decisions each Wes Moore made in his teen years, a time when so many of our young men are vulnerable.
There is so much to be learned from this book by individuals and by parents. There is also much to be learned by communities. I’m very happy to know that the Portland, Oregon community has chosen this book as their “Everybody Reads” book for 2011. What that means is that copies of the book are available (in large quantities) at libraries and bookstores all over the greater Portland area. The idea is that everyone reads the same book and then joins in on numerous discussions during the month of February and early March. I counted over 30 discussion groups and four lectures and panel discussions at local library brances, bookstores and colleges. In addition, the author will speak at the conclusion. The third part of the program is the hope that individuals and community groups will say, “What can I do to help?”
For more information on the Everybody Reads In Portland program, visit their website here: www.multcolib.org
For more information on Wes Moore, visit his website here: theotherwesmoore.com
Check your local library for a copy of this book. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates is also available at Amazon.