Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets
The story of the young sociologist who studied a Chicago crack-dealing gang from the inside captured the world's attention when it was first described in Freakonomics. Gang Leader for a Day is the fascinating full story of how Sudhir Venkatesh managed to gain entrée into the gang, what he learned, and how his method revolutionized the academic establishment.
Venkatesh was studying sociology at the University of Chicago when he visited a housing project to administer a survey about poverty. However, he was confronted by a group of gang members who thought he was from a rival gang, and they held kept him overnight. Eventually the gang leader, nicknamed J.T., believed that Venkatesh wa ...more
There are several points that made this book ridiculous:
1. Sudhir clearly idolizes JT and I think this clouds his ability to view JT and his work objectively
2. Sudhir painfully recollects his utter lack o ...more
However, he brought up a lot of important issues but m ...more
Sudhir Venkatesh tells you a true story of him going into the ghetto where he tries to fill a survey in Chicago gangs given to him by his University. When he went into Chicago’s ghetto buildings and tried to interview some gang members about their interactions and day-to-day dealings within the crack industry he found out (surprisingly) that the people who live there don’t welcome stranger very kindly. During his first meeting he was held hostage for 24 hours without any harm but people were ver ...more
And the title—“Gang Leader for a Day”—makes it sound like you’r ...more
Heads up- there is an obscene amount of profanity in conversations Venkatesh recounts.
It's a fascinating peak into "real people" in the Robert Taylor housing projects, and it would be depressing (so many instances in which people accept such horrible injustice as just t ...more
After a tense introduction, Venkatesh befriended JT, a leader of Chicago's Black Kings gang. This book is Venkatesh's account of the decade he spent observing gang life in the projects. He followed JT around Robert Ta ...more
Nonetheless, he spends six years interviewing people in the projects who initiall ...more
The book deals with how sociological studies purely based on statistics are not sufficient to explain or resolve poverty. There is a human aspect to it that is needed to be understood to present the whole picture.
The author narrates with a fluid style which is more reminiscent of a novel rather than a memoir. Which i ...more
One of the most popular chapters in Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's book Freakonomics centers on the economics of a Chicago street gang. So you can imagine people were excited when they got word of Gan ...more
We meet Sudir as a new grad student at the University of Chicago. We learn that he grew up I think both in NY and LA, but in middle class suburbs of both. He finds a professor who wants to study the poor after venturing out into the southside neighborhoods of Chicago and deciding he wants to do something in that vein. He goes to an almost condemned project building with a very funny and subjectively offensive ...more
Gang Leader for a Day is a gritty read - not for the gentle of heart - yet it is very accessible and easy to read, though you won’t want to plow through it in one sitting. It provides just what the back blurb promises: a look into the Chicago Projects and into a world most of us literally cannot imagine - nor would most of us want to. You’l ...more
The book presents an enthralling inside look at life in Chicago's now defunct Robert Taylor Homes during the height of the crack epidemic of the late 80s to mid 90s. The primary focus is on the author's almost unfettered access to the Black Kings (a street gang resp ...more
I can hear all the academic minded screaming "NO, NO, NO" you cannot become a part of what you are studying. To them I say this book is a shining example of wh ...more
Good cops. Bad cops. Drugs. Prostitution. Building Maintenance. Gang Turf. Soul Food. This book has it all. Through his experiences Mr. Professor paints a picture of the realities of what it means to live in the projects, how it feels to be black in a ne ...more
His most recent book is Gang Leader for a Day (Penguin Press), which received a Best Book award from The Economist, and is currently being translated into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, Italian, Polish, French and Portuguese. His previous wo ...more
News & Interviews
Oh Yeah?" he said, handing me one of the beers. "What else you going to do? You can't fix nothing , you never worked a day in your life. The only thing you know how to do is hang out with niggers like us."
I nearly choked on my beer when he summarized my capacities so succinctly - and, for the most part accurately.”