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:
"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.