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

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Penguin, Jan 10, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
4 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 Penguin Press



From the Trade Paperback edition.

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An easy to read examination

User Review  - Anonymous - Borders

Shelved in the Sociology section, this book is not just for avid sociologists. This is Ventakesh's story of the time he spent studying an inner city huosing project building in Chicago. Ventakesh made ... Read full review

bday present

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I bought this book for my fiance as a bday present after we saw it on the colbert report. He hasnt read a book for leisure front to back since high school but since I got him this he hasnt put it down!! Read full review


Praise for Sudhir Venkateshs Gang Leader for a
TWO First Days on Federal Street
THREE Someone to Watch Over
FOUR Gang Leader for a
FIVE Ms Baileys Neighborhood
SIX The Hustler and the Hustled
SEVEN Black and Blue
EIGHT The StayTogether Gang
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About the author (2008)

Sudhir Venkatesh is professor of sociology and African American studies at Columbia University. His writings, stories, and documentaries have appeared in The American Prospect, and on PBS and National Public Radio’s This American Life.

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