Who Is Wes Moore? A Story of Overcoming Hardships

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Other Wes Moore" by Wes Moore. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who is Wes Moore from The Other Wes Moore? How does Moore hope his story will inspire others?

So, who is Wes Moore? Moore was able to overcome his rocky beginnings and become a decorated officer in the Army, a successful student, a Rhodes scholar, White House Fellow, and businessman.

Read on to answer the question, “Who is Wes Moore?”

Who Is Wes Moore From The Other Wes Moore?

Who is Wes Moore? Moore is the author of The Other Wes Moore. The book is a compilation of hours of conversations between the author Wes Moore and a criminal who is “Wes Moore” as well. Author Wes Moore questioned how two men with the same name and from similar neighborhoods could have taken such different paths. The book includes interviews with family and friends regarding the timeline of events and aspects of the two men’s lives. 


Moore grew up without his father. Following Moore’s father’s untimely death when Moore was three, his mother, Joy, struggled to overcome her grief. After two years of raising three children alone, she decided to move her family to her childhood home in the Bronx to live with her parents. 

Joy did her best to provide Moore with every opportunity to improve his life and get on the path to success. She enrolled him in a predominantly white private school north of the burrough and set strict rules for his social activities. The Bronx had slipped into a severe state of drug- and gang-related violence since her youth, and the streets were no place for a young black boy. 

Despite Joy’s efforts, Moore was apathetic about life. He felt caught in the tug-of-war between his black community in the inner-city and the affluent white community at school. He became self-conscious, lethargic, and truant. Eventually, he was suspended from school and almost arrested for vandalism. These events prompted Joy to enroll Moore in military school at the age of twelve. 

Moore’s parents and grandparents tried to instill good values in him, but his continued spiral into reckless and lazy behavior made them fear for his future. They hoped enrolling him in military school would do the trick, and it did. 

Moore gained valuable lessons about discipline and responsibility from his commanders at school. His Uncle Howard also stepped in as a surrogate father. He steered Moore in positive directions and tried to help Moore make sense of his life. Later, Moore received guidance from counselors and city officials, all with the purpose of opening opportunities to him. 

The care and support from these individuals made Moore realize how much people cared about his success, and in turn, he started to care, too. People wanted him to succeed, and he worked to meet those expectations. 

Who Is Wes Moore Now?

So who is Wes Moore now? From rocky beginnings, Moore was able to turn his life around. He became a decorated officer in the Army, a successful student, a Rhodes scholar, White House Fellow, and businessman. Although he was originally forced down this better path, little successes allowed Moore to become more confident and have more faith in his abilities. He credits his family and the important mentors in his life for helping him see that he could be more than his environment dictated.

What Moore does believe is that young people need strong mentors in their lives. The tendency to focus only on what is right in front of them is strong in young people. What made the difference for him were all the people who steered him to look for more than that. They helped him see that being black and poor, not having a father, and living in underserved and crime-ridden communities didn’t dictate what kind of future he could have. They allowed him to understand what freedom meant. 

So, who is Wes Moore? At the end of the day, Moore knows everyone has choices, and the choices you make are yours alone, even if the circumstances and influences are negative. The solution, perhaps, is support. Society cannot predict who will make the right choices, but society should ensure that each young person, regardless of economic or demographic considerations, is provided the tools and resources needed to see all the options before they choose. 

Who Is Wes Moore? A Story of Overcoming Hardships

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Wes Moore's "The Other Wes Moore" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full The Other Wes Moore summary :

  • How two men from similar communities can have vastly different lives
  • What led one Wes Moore to become a Rhodes Scholar
  • What led the other Wes Moore to a life sentence

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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