ISBN 1594201501First introduced in Freakonomics, here is the full story of Sudhir Venkatesh, the sociology grad student who infiltrated one of Chicago's most notorious gangs
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 entre 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 hoping to impress his professors with his boldness, he never imagined that as a result of the assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade inside the projects under JT's protection, documenting what he saw there.
Over the next seven years, Venkatesh got to know the neighborhood dealers, crackheads, squatters, prostitutes, pimps, activists, cops, organizers, and officials. From his privileged position of unprecedented access, he 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.
In Hollywood-speak, Gang Leader for a Day is The Wire meets Harvard University. It's a brazen, page turning, and fundamentally honest view into the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, often corrupt struggle to survive in what is tantamount to an urban war zone. It is also the story of a complicated friendship between Sudhir and JT-two young and ambitious men a universe apart.
Posts discussing this item
posted to Unqualified Reservations on Thu 22nd Jan 09
Okay, so you're a Loyalist now. So what?The story of the American Rebellion, as told by Hutchinson, Oliver, and Stedman, is hardly without lessons for today. Most are subtle, and we'll save them for later. But one is obvious: bogus, self-serving, fraudulent
posted to Unqualified Reservations on Thu 29th May 08
Last week, dear open-minded progressive, we worked through a clean-room redesign of government. The result had no resemblance to present institutions - and little resemblance to past ones. Should this surprise you? Do you expect history's fruits to be sweet?Today
posted to Chris Blattman's Blog on Sat 22nd Mar 08
When Sudhir Venkatesh titled his new book Gang Leader for a Day, I expected a self-aggrandizing tale, one that simplified and sensationalized urban street gangs and black American youth.I was wrong.What I got was one of the most riveting and thoughtful accounts
posted to The Stalwart on Tue 4th Mar 08
Now that the favorite TV show of both Barack Obama and AP CEO Tom Curley* is going off the air, it's time for junkies to look elsewhere for their needed dose of urban grit. At this point, there's no obvious successor on TV, so that means fans will have to seek