‘The Other Wes Moore' author to discuss book

Wes Moore is a son of Baltimore, a husband, a combat veteran of Afghanistan, Rhodes Scholar, Citibank employee and author who lives in New York.

Another Wes Moore from Baltimore lives in Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland after taking part in a robbery that ended with his half-brother shooting and killing a police officer.

When Wes Moore, the author, learned of a man with the same name, near the same age, from the same city, he reached out to him and his family. Their differences were obvious; but their similarities -- their role models and decisions they had faced -- were striking enough that the author Moore eventually decided to write a book, "The Other Wes Moore," to explore where and how their paths diverged.

Moore will speak about the book at the Carter Center on Monday. Here's what he had to say about it.

Q: Would you have had these revelations about how you got to where you are if not for the coincidence of sharing a name with someone who ended up differently?A: "I'm not sure if I ever would have gone down this path had I not known Wes. I would probably not have done the book if I hadn't discovered Wes. It's a unique opportunity to tell a bigger story. There was a bigger truth to the other story."

Q: You spent a lot of time interviewing Wes' family, but what about your own family?

A: The interviews with my family were just as tough, just hearing some of the facts about your life and your family's lives. Many I didn't know until I actually sat down, like some kind of journalist. Getting them to open up and be honest and transparent, you're the same 8-year-old sitting at their feet and asking questions. That was the only way I could do this story justice, was if I wasn't being judgmental, good and bad, of my life and those around me. There's stuff in there I'm still embarrassed about.

Q: Who do you most hope picks up this book and reads it?

A: "The ideal reader is not only young people going through transitions to adulthood, but also people that love them, people that are their guardians, their parents, the nonprofits serving them and their teachers. It's not just about young people, it's about all of us."

Q: Do you think this applies in other cities, suburbs of Atlanta, in rural parts of Georgia?

A: "You can pick these two kids up and put them in any community, urban community, suburban community, rural community. The impact of decisions, of role models, of high expectations, or not-high-enough expectations. People see just how little separates them from people, whether you're talking about Atlanta, Buckhead or Columbus, Ga., or all over, these still resonate."

Q: What do you think we should be doing in communities?

A: "So many times, we look to communities as they are. 'That's just the way things are.' We pawn off responsibility. 'That's the mayor's job, the city councilman's job.' That's our job. We do ourselves a major disservice when we assume other people are going to work to fix projects and fix inequalities. If we got something that needs to be addressed, we have to put our muscle power behind it as well."

Book event

Author Wes Moore signs and discusses "The Other Wes Moore." 7 p.m. Monday. Free. Carter Center Chapel, 441 Freedom Parkway N.E., Atlanta. 404-865-7100, www.jimmycarterlibrary.org/events