Gang Leader for A Day

Gang Leader for A Day

A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

Book - 2008
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Penguin Putnam
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--was published in September 2013 by Penguin Press


 

 



Random House, Inc.
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--was published in September 2013 by The Penguin Press





Baker & Taylor
Recounts the full story of a young sociologist whose infiltration of a Chicago drug gang was originally introduced in the work Freakonomics, in a firsthand account that describes the author's grad student idealism, his friendship with gang leader JT, and his seven-year witness to the organization's complex crack-selling trade. Reprint.

Baker
& Taylor

Recounts the story of a young sociologist whose infiltration of a Chicago drug gang was originally introduced in the work "Freakonomics," describing the author's idealism, his friendship with gang leader JT, and his witness to the organization's crack-selling trade.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, c2008
ISBN: 9780143114932
014311493X
Branch Call Number: 364.1066 V
Characteristics: xiv, 302 p. ;,22 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

The fascinating full story of how Sudhir Venkatesh managed to gain entrance into a crack-dealing gang, what he learned, and how his method revolutionized the academic establishment.


From the critics


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v
VcrRocker
Jun 02, 2017

Read cut and paste writing like "The Ballad of Danny Wolfe" - then read this book - night and day - it's the difference between boots on the ground reporting and and regurgitating stories from the Wpg Free Press. In this book you get real stories, real ideas, real info. Two stories on "little chicago" - you be the judge.

g
gingerreads
Mar 06, 2016

This book gives us a deeper understanding of how the "have nots" survive with their own economy and set of unspoken laws in order to survive. Drugs, killing and prostitution are not necessarily condoned but explained in a larger context of how these people are trying to survive because the mainstream life is leaving them outside. It gave me a better understanding of what life is like "inside the projects".

r
ryner
Jun 27, 2015

Like many other readers, I was first introduced to Sudhir Venkatesh in a chapter of Steven Leavitt's 2005 bestseller, Freakonomics. Then I sort of forgot about him until I saw this new book circulating at the library, and picked it up. While a graduate student in sociology at the University of Chicago, Venkatesh takes the term "field work" to a whole new level, essentially becoming an honorary member of the gang he sets out to study. When his initial goal of approaching the Chicago housing projects with an armful of formal surveys is met with laughter and derision by the residents, Venkatesh isn't deterred, but abandons that angle and instead begins hanging around the buildings, getting to know the residents as human beings and gaining an insider's look at the complex and mysterious details of gang management and the fascinating economics of life in the projects. While I found the book riveting and Venkatesh's experiences valuable, as a reader and social justice advocate I came away with feelings of hopelessness, as there is little reason to think that life will improve for many of the memorable characters, deserving and otherwise, the reader becomes acquainted with within the pages of the book.

KCLSRecommends Oct 13, 2014

When Venkatesh first entered an abandoned housing project in Chicago, he was simply looking for people to answer a multiple-choice survey about urban poverty. He never imagined that as a result of the assignment he would befriend a gang leader and spend the better part of the next decade inside the projects documenting what he saw there.

t
thelauchlan
May 05, 2014

I found this book an engaging, easy to read exploration into a world that is completely foreign to me. Quite eye opening. There have been criticisms, like the title being somewhat misleading but in the book Venkatesh acknowledges he was Gang Leader in name only and is rebuked when he takes his role too seriously.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with any interest in class/poverty issues.

k
kellygmayer
Jul 08, 2013

Hearing recently of his discredit as a prof at the U of C recently certainly colored the impression he gave of himself as naive.

reikocyrnyc Dec 22, 2012

The kindle format of this book is restricted to Kindle devices (no apps allowed). Because I have a kindle app, I can't read this book and I can't switch to a different digital format that is readable. I wish the library had clearly posted this Kindle restriction.

mberk Feb 09, 2012

Wonderful insight. Kind of left me disappointed with the author though.

s
ssteinwedel
Nov 18, 2009

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