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The Other Wes Moore -- the two faces of Baltimore

The Other Wes Moore -- the two faces of Baltimore

Among the new books out today is

an only-in-Baltimore tale about two people who shared the same name but very different destinies. One (the author) was a Hopkins-educated Rhodes scholar; the other is serving a life sentence for felony murder. The author, who had his own issues growing up, read about his doppelganger (who was just two years older) in The Baltimore Sun. Here's how the genesis of the book is described on his website:

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"Wes 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. ... 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."

For anyone who has lived in Baltimore, the contrast is familiar. The city has safe, prosperous neighborhoods, and some of the deadliest in America. The best book I've read about the-Baltimore-we-rarely-see was "The Corner" by David Simon. Moore's book could be another worthy example, and a potential pick for next year's One Maryland, One Book program.

The author is scheduled to appear at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on May15 and at the Enoch Pratt on May 18.

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