Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chilling Truth

Well, after I decided to review Stasiland this month, I read another book I wanted to recommend: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. It's about two guys from Baltimore, both named Wes Moore. One wrote the book, and was a Rhodes Scholar (a prestigious academic award). The other Wes is in prison for life with no possibility of parole. The author wrote to, and visited with him, before deciding to tell their stories.
For the writer, getting to know the other Wes Moore revealed some striking similarities: raised in fatherless families in poor African-American neighborhoods, both felt the lure of making money from selling drugs. The author got away from the criminal life, but the other Wes did not. Why? The author's mother and grandparents sent him away to military school. Obviously, that's not the whole story.
If you are interested, read The Other Wes Moore. And here are a few other related books, all highly recommended: Brothers and Keepers, by John Edgar Wideman; Gang Leader for a Day, by Sudhir Venkatesh; and Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A., by Luis J. Rodriguez.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you mentioned this one, as I've never heard of it before. I'm sure it will appeal to many of my students and I'm hoping that in the way it parallels the two lives it teaches about consequences.

a. fortis said...

I saw an interview with the author on (I think) Stephen Colbert's show, and thought this was a pretty fascinating premise for a book--very attention-grabbing way to frame the author's social commentary.

gonovice said...

If they like it John Edgar Wideman's Brothers and Keepers is even better. Higher reading level, though.