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

Front Cover
Penguin, Jan 10, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
78 Reviews
A New York Times Bestseller
Foreword by Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of

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


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I was expecting more sociological insight ... - Goodreads
Over all a great book that is easy to read. - Goodreads
Really well researched, explained and organized. - Goodreads

Review: Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

User Review  - Bridget Conroy - Goodreads

I really enjoyed this book about gangs and an outsider's view while spending many years with them. I thought the ending would be better with a better update on where everyone ended up or that ... Read full review

Review: Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

User Review  - Mathilda Wheeler - Goodreads

I enjoyed the book--it gave me an insight into gangs in Chicago in the 1990's, but I had issues with the role of the narrator. He's writing about his research process for his doctoral thesis in ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

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.

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