Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


I wasn’t looking forward to reading this book, but I thoroughly loved it. Sudhir Venkatesh is a sociologist who decided to survey a Chicago gang. He went door-to-door trying to find someone to take the survey. He ended up with a group of young men who held him hostage. They jokingly told him to, “come back tomorrow” when they released him. The next morning he came back with a six pack of beer.

The gang agreed to let him study them, and he spent the next months learning how to be a gangster. Gang Leader for a Day will open your eyes. It shows that we can not be so shortsighted that we only blame individuals without taking a look at society too.

“Go back to where you came from ... and be more careful when you walk around the city. ... You shouldn’t go around asking them silly-ass questions. ... With people like us, you should hang out, get to know what they do, how they do it. No one is going to answer questions like that. You need to understand how young people live on the streets.”

— From Alex M.

Description


A New York Times Bestseller

Foreword by Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of
Freakonomics

When first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty--and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. Examining the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone, Gang Leader for a Day also tells the story of the complicated friendship that develops between Venkatesh and JT--two young and ambitious men a universe apart.

"Riveting."—The New York Times

"Compelling... dramatic... Venkatesh gives readers a window into a way of life that few Americans understand."—Newsweek

"An eye-opening account into an underserved city within the city."—Chicago Tribune

"The achievement of Gang Leader for a Day is to give the dry statistics a raw, beating heart."—The Boston Globe

"A rich portrait of the urban poor, drawn not from statistics but from viivd tales of their lives and his, and how they intertwined."—The Economist

"A sensative, sympathetic, unpatronizing portrayal of lives that are ususally ignored or lumped into ill-defined stereotype."—Finanical Times

Sudhir Venkatesh’s latest book Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy—a memoir of sociological investigation revealing the true face of America’s most diverse city—is also published by Penguin Press.


 

 

About the Author


SUDHIR VENKATESH is William B. Ransford Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. He has written extensively about American poverty and is currently working on a project comparing the urban poor in France and the United States. His writings, stories, and documentaries have appeared in The American Prospect, This American Life, The Source, PBS, and National Public Radio. Venkatesh's latest book, Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York's Underground Economy, was published in September 2013 by The Penguin Press.

Praise For…


"Riveting." --The New York Times

"Compelling... dramatic... Venkatesh gives readers a window into a way of life that few Americans understand." --Newsweek

"An eye-opening account into an underserved city within the city." --Chicago Tribune

"The achievement of Gang Leader for a Day is to give the dry statistics a raw, beating heart." --The Boston Globe

"A rich portrait of the urban poor, drawn not from statistics but from viivd tales of their lives and his, and how they intertwined." --The Economist

"A sensitive, sympathetic, unpatronizing portrayal of lives that are ususally ignored or lumped into ill-defined stereotype." --Finanical Times
Product Details
ISBN: 9780143114932
ISBN-10: 014311493X
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: December 30th, 2008
Pages: 320
Language: English
 

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