When I got The Other Wes Moore last week I anticipated reading it once I finished a couple other books I’m presently reading. But when I read the first couple pages I stopped with the other books and dove into this one. I simply couldn’t put it down.

How is it that two boys, about the same age, born within blocks from each other, raised by single mothers, end up in such different places. One Wes Moore is serving a life sentence in prison for the murder of a police officer. The other Wes Moore–the author of the book–is a Rhodes Scholar, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, worked in the White House, and is now a successful businessman and author? Many factors were at play in the lives of both of these young men. And yet, as it states on the cover of the book,

The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.

I’ve never met the author but I look forward to doing so one of these days. Both his mother and his older sister are dear friends of mine. You may conclude that this factor makes me biased. It’s true that I read the book because I know members of this family. But I would not highlight the book on my blog unless it had a powerful impact on me and I believed it would do the same for others.

I encourage you to read The Other Wes Moore and discover for yourself the power of this very American story. It is filled with tragedy and triumph, with despair and hope, and a look at some slices of life in our nation that many of us have never seen. It is a reminder of what is possible when things go well, and just how easy it is for things to go tragically wrong. It is also a reminder to me of the importance of communities like Coming to the Table that are committed to addressing the legacy of enslavement, racism, inequality, and injustice that remain today.

In reading this book, you’ll understand, as I do, why Wes Moore has appeared on Oprah, the PBS News Hour, Tavis Smiley, why The Other Wes Moore debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list, and why former U.S. senator and secretary of defense William S. Cohen said,

“Wes Moore is destined to become one of the most powerful and influential leaders of this century. You need only to read this book to understand why.”

UPDATE: watch Wes Moore’s excellent interview on The Colbert Report from June 21, 2010 here.