Gang Leader for a Day

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 entr e into the gang, what he learned, and how his method revolutionized the academic establishment.When VenkateshThe 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 entr e into the gang, what he learned, and how his method revolutionized the academic establishment.When Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago s most notorious housing projects, he was looking for people to take a multiple choice survey on urban poverty A first year grad student, he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of the next decade inside the projects under JT s protection, documenting what he saw there.Over the next seven years, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of the gang as they operated their crack selling business, conducted PR within their community, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang s complex organizational structure.Gang Leader for a Day is an inside view into the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone It is also the story of a complicated friendship between two young and ambitious men, a universe apart.
Gang Leader for a Day 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 fasc

  • Title: Gang Leader for a Day
  • Author: Sudhir Venkatesh Reg Rogers Stephen J. Dubner
  • ISBN: 9780061571138
  • Page: 406
  • Format: Audio CD
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      Published :2018-09-11T16:26:27+00:00

    About the Author

    Sudhir Venkatesh Reg Rogers Stephen J. Dubner

    Sudhir Venkatesh is William B Ransford Professor of Sociology, and the Committee on Global Thought, at Columbia University in the City of New York.His most recent book is Gang Leader for a Day Penguin Press Gang Leader 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 work, Off the Books The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor Harvard University Press, 2006 about illegal economies in Chicago, received a Best Book Award from Slate 2006 as well as the C Wright Mills Award 2007 His first book, American Project The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto 2000 explored life in Chicago public housing Venkatesh editorial writings have appeared in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post He writes for Slate, and his stories have appeared in This American Life, WIRED, and on National Public Radio His next book, under contract with Penguin Press, will focus on the role of black market economies from sex work and drug trafficking to day care and entertainment in the revitalization of New York since 1999.Venkatesh is completing an ethnographic study of policing in the Department of Justice, where he served as a Senior Research Advisor from 2010 2011 Venkatesh s first documentary film, Dislocation, followed families as they relocated from condemned public housing developments The documentary aired on PBS in 2005 He directed and produced a three part award winning documentary on the history of public housing for public radio And, he recently completed At the Top of My Voice, a documentary film on a scholar and artist who return to the ex Soviet republic of Georgia to promote democracy and safeguard human rights Venkatesh received his Ph.D in Sociology from the University of Chicago He was a Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University from 1996 1999, and an NSF CAREER award recipient in 2000 He holds a visiting appointment in Columbia University s Law School and he is a voting member of the Institute for Research in African American Studies.

    287 Comment

    • Petra X said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Sudhir Venkatesh had a problem when researching and writing this book. It was supposed to be pure sociology but turned out to be gonzo journalism. Venkatesh simply enjoyed being with the gang members. He enjoyed, it seemed, all aspects of gang life except the crime and violence. He liked the macho all-boys-together, he liked the idea of it being an alternative economy run by people who are not more or less corrupt and violent than the legitimate one. Some of them were even involved in charity wo [...]

    • Carmen said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      This author is a moron. Even after spending years in the projects, he still doesn't know how things work. I was really blown away by his naivety and lack of common sense. He's surprised that gangs use violence. He's surprised when he finds out the gang has dealings in prostitution. He's happy when the gang leader takes an interest in the author's pet project to find out exactly how much everyone's earning and then is shocked, shocked I tell you, when the gang leader uses that to extort more mone [...]

    • Marci said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      There is so little information about and so many stereotypes within mainstream America about how ghettos function, even though thousands of Americans live in them, that this book is a welcome contribution to poverty literature. As a sociologist-in-training, Sudhir Venkatesh stumbles upon a unique opportunity to gain a lense into the inner workings of the American ghetto when he wanders into one of the worst housing projects in Chicago clutching pens and a survey that asks, "How does it feel to b [...]

    • Jill said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Wow. I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book, since I tried one of the author's earlier books, and liked the concept, but felt that it was a little too academic. This book, however, I thought was an amazing read. Sudhir Venkatesh, while a graduate student in sociology, accidentally finds himself befriending a gang leader, JT, at the height of the crack epidemic. The gang leader gives him an unprecented look at both life in the gang, and life in the projects for everyone where it is a majo [...]

    • Kressel Housman said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      If you’ve read Freakonomics, then you’ve already been introduced to this amazing story. As a grad student in sociology, Sudhir Venkatesh naively walked into a Chicago public housing project with the aim of researching urban poverty. Armed with a survey, he proceeded to interview the first people he saw, who just happened to be young, crack-dealing gang members. Because he is a dark-skinned ethnic Indian, neither white nor African American, the gang members assumed he was a Mexican from a riv [...]

    • James Dittmar said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      How embarrassing! I can't believe Sudhir believes that this account is even remotely scholarly (as it should be, coming from an "expert" in the field--he has a responsibility to portray his research accurately as a representative of his discipline, even if this is meant for a popular audience). 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 objectively2. Sudhir painfully recollects his utter lack o [...]

    • Anna said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Gang Leader for a Day is hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Sudhir Venkatesh, whose research on gangs was first made famous in Freakonomics, wrote this memoir of how he came to become an active observer of the drug trade in Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes (infamous public housing project) in late 1980s/early 1990s. Although it's nonfiction, the book reads like a narrative and it's incredibly engaging and page-turning suspenseful. Knowing that the events are real actually builds mor [...]

    • Caroline Stevens said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      I had mixed feelings about Venkatesh's book. It exposed and detailed a world that I knew nothing about, and peaked my curiosity to look into the subject matter of gangs and life in the projects in greater detail. Venkatesh did an excellent job of explaining the inner workings of life in the projects - the hierarchy in a gang, how a gang works with the surrounding community, the role the police play . . . the economics that drives everything. However, he brought up a lot of important issues but m [...]

    • Casey said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      If you live in Chicago, or have any interest in the lives of poor people in cities in the US you must read this book. Gang Leader for a Day is engaging, powerful, and believable. The only times I did not enjoy this book were when I couldn't deal with the difficult realities it laid out. This is not to say that it is bleak or a slog. The book moves at a cracking pace. The stories are personal and specific while painting a picture of a much larger world.

    • Alex said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      This is a book that I’m glad I heard about first on the radio, because it is not represented well by its title or cover. The Sudhir Venkatesh on the book jacket, in his vintage leather coat with the collar up, arms folded in tough guy stance in front of derelict seeming housing projects slightly out of focus in the back ground, seems like a wannabe bad ass. And that’s not at all the impression you get from the memoir inside the book.And the title—“Gang Leader for a Day”—makes it soun [...]

    • Armen Grigoryan said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      I think since 2008 it has been said thousands times that this a must read for anyone who is conducting research in social science, but let me add my voice to those folks and say read and enjoy this eye-opening and mind-altering book.

    • Brian said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Having relied heavily on Venkatesh's American Project for background on my own college thesis, I had high hopes for Gang Leader. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Venkatesh gained groundbreaking access to the Robert Taylor Homes. Robert Taylor was a notorious public housing project in Chicago that symbolized both the failure of public housing and the rise of violent drug gangs in the 1980s and 90s. Venkatesh's access enabled him to develop a comprehensive and unique understandi [...]

    • Jamie said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      After Lee Anne recommended this to me, I then uncovered his "what do real thugs think about the Wire" on the Freakonomics blog. So I finally read it. I can safely say I would have read it in 1 sitting if I hadn't taken breaks to watch the Euro. It is THAT good and currently sitting as my favorite book of the year. 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 [...]

    • Leah said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Without reading a word I have to say I HATE uncritical ethnographieswithout an explicit inclusion of the researcher's positionality to their participants I find it highly unethical's academic imperialism to mebut I'm going to give this a chance hoping for something good.

    • Joe said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      *Note: The author of this book, Sudhir Venkatesh, has a very long name. There are way too many letters in Venkatesh for me to type it over and over. In fact, my fingers are exhausted from the three times I've already typed it. Therefore, the author will be referred to as S.V. from here on out.* 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 [...]

    • Fryeday said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      This book was recommended by a friend who had just finished it as well as Freakonomics. 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 [...]

    • Eapen Chacko said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Sudhir Venkatesh must have grown up in a bubble in California, which certainly has really vicious gangs in Compton and in East LA. A son of an academic, he arrives at the University of Chicago to do his Ph.D. in Sociology, and then ventures outside of its bubble into the Chicago ghetto, and to the Taylor housing projects. He knows nothing about urban blacks, apparently, and nothing about gangs, drugs, and projects. Nonetheless, he spends six years interviewing people in the projects who initiall [...]

    • Borum said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Well, this was a fast paced read. It was interesting and emotionally involved journalism at best. However, it wasn't exactly what I expected, as I was hoping to gain more insight on the sociological or perhaps an economic (judging from his cowork with Levitt) aspect of the gang. I didn't expect this book to have any happy ending or that his work is going to have a major impact in social policy as he seemed to have in the outset. In fact, the title pretty much sums up his experience. As much as b [...]

    • Neil Hepworth said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      How does one go about reviewing a book whose major premise is that, unless you live it, you can’t understand it? Ohumm…Dude, I don’t know what to say.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 [...]

    • georgia said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Guys I finished it. Holy shit. I finished

    • Reggie said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      I thought the chapter in Freakonomics on why drug dealers live with their mothers was fascinating. For that reason alone I had been looking forward to reading this book. It did not disappoint. I literally could not put this book down.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 [...]

    • Michael Flanagan said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Sudhir Venkatesh once again shows his ability to take academic learning from the classroom to the streets and put a real life spin on it. In this book he takes sociology to a whole new level by becoming a part of the community he was studying. Ignoring all safety warning Sudhir enters the projects to see how it works from the street level.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 [...]

    • Lindsay said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      This started out as a rip-roaring read for me. Venkatesh's moxy (or naivete) certainly sets out for a sensational premise, in every sense of the word. I began to falter about halfway through when I felt like it was more anecdotal than anything, and I found myself craving more synthesis on his part. I also became really frustrated about just how naive he wasI suppose he couldn't have gotten himself into his position had he not been, but man, you can see him screwing with the tenants' lives from a [...]

    • Kerry said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      A fascinating account of how this Indian-American grad student at the University of Chicago who grew up in the Cali suburbs befriends a gang leader (JT) in the Robert Taylor housing project and spends years getting to know him and the community. 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 [...]

    • Dave said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Venkatesh begins his story as a university student who (stupidly) wanders into the Robert Taylor Homes of Chicago for a sociology project and ends it as a Sociology professor and a trusted confidant of a major Chicago gang leader. In between he befriends the residents of the ghetto, listening to their stories,interacting in their lives and humanizing them in the process. The book is very accessible, the narrative is tight and exciting and the characters are vivid. The lurid nature of inner city [...]

    • Jamie HB said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Though many of Sudhir's reactions and accusations were rather naive, and made me think "he's going to get himself killed," I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be quite insightful, and if you are interested in learning more informally about gang economics and the way they think/do things, then I would highly recommend this book. It's written like he's telling a story, and the content is well organized.

    • Danielle Kim said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Pretty crazy experience. A good story but wasn't academic enough for me.

    • Chris said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Simply put - a must read if you live in America.

    • Maggie said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      Sudhir Venkatesh was a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago, studying urban poverty. In an effort to interview those living in urban destitution, he grabbed a multiple-choice survey, and headed over to the Robert Taylor Homes - one of Chicago's most notorious housing projects.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 [...]

    • Guang Hao Chong said:
      Dec 15, 2018 - 16:26 PM

      An interesting book about the life of black gangs in Chicago; their economies and business of crack selling, the dilemma of the author in being a convetional vs. rogue sociologist. Definitely a whole new level of ethnography that is based on the closeness of the author and his subjects. However, I was a little disappointed that the author tried to distance himself from his 'gatekeeper' and 'key informant' at the end of the book, making it seem like it was pretty one-sided. As I'm just an outside [...]

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