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We Were Brothers by Barry Moser

We Were Brothers

by Barry Moser

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Barry Moser is a world renowned artist and illustrator who has work in places like the National Gallery of Art and the British Museum. This is his story about his older brother, Tommy and the rift between them that neither seemed able to mend until it was almost too late. Both were raised in Tennessee and were raised to be racist. Barry broke away from that lifestyle and believed that Tommy never did. As children they fought, often much more than brothers normally do and could find no common ground to make them feel like brothers instead of mortal enemies.

This touching story shows that it is never too late to reach out to family and see if you can find common ground, even if over 40 years have passed.

Highly recommended, this is a quick read but a great one. ( )
1 vote bookswoman | Dec 4, 2015 |
This was such a short book and as the author explains---he pulls from his own memory which may not be perfect and will, of course, be different from anyone else's in each situation. Really beautifully written---very emotional. I was so glad that the brothers really did find each other and had at least some time to uncover their alternate views of the past. It seems to take so very little to alter how people react to each other...but then it can build and build until there is a wall of separation. Barry and his brother both seemed to work hard to try and remove the bricks -- as in, better late than never-- but they were both sorry it hadn't started much sooner. ( )
  nyiper | Dec 3, 2015 |
Memory and perspective. Bullying and its effects. Racial prejudice and the mixed messages received by brothers raised near Chattanooga, Tennessee. I am sure many of us realize how complicated relationships between siblings can be. Raised in the same house, our memories can be different, our experiences perceived differently. So it was between Barry and Tommy Moser. Bad experiences at military school and the long term effects. Physical fights between the brothers, with Barry, the younger most often the loser. Differences in the way they saw black and white people. All these things were a bone of contention between the bothers for a very long time.

Told in straightforward, simple prose this is a wonderful story of brothers, estrangement and at last reconciliation. It is touching, heartfelt and reminds us of how important family is truly. Also how short time can actually be. After finishing this I went and called my younger sister, closest to me in age. We haven't seen each other in over a year. Too long. ( )
  Beamis12 | Oct 28, 2015 |
We Were Brothers is a memoir in which Barry Moser both recalls his childhood and comes to terms with what had been a difficult sibling relationship. Both Barry and his brother Tommy were raised in Tennessee during the 1940s and 1950s when Jim Crow was in full force and the KKK could openly and with wide support parade on their way to burn a cross in someone's yard. From this common beginning Barry and Tommy grew apart and race played both a real and symbolic role in keeping them apart for many years.

Most of the first part of the book tells about growing up, the relationships between family, neighbors and schoolmates. Throughout this section Tommy is shown through the lens it seems Barry viewed him right up until the period which takes up the latter portion of the book. It is this last part where the brothers finally share some open honesty and they come to learn that, while they are still very different, they are more alike than they ever realized.

I found the treatment of race particularly effective in this memoir. There were no attempts to either sugar-coat what was accepted as "normal" nor overly demonize anyone. Barry clearly shows his strong distaste for his brother's racist comments and feelings but demonstrates that with effort some common ground can be found and thus some progress can be made.

I came away without feeling that either Barry or Tommy reflected my personal views, yet I came away with an understanding of both and perhaps most importantly a belief that through honest grappling with divisive issues we as a species can make changes to how we live and think.

For anyone who has had a difficult relationship with a sibling, or any relative for that matter, this should serve as a wake-up call to make the necessary steps to try to mend any damage before it is too late.

Reviewed from a copy made available through Goodreads First Reads. ( )
  pomo58 | Sep 29, 2015 |
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