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Gang Leader for a Day

A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh
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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.
Penguin Publishing Group; January 2008
320 pages; ISBN 9781440631894
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: Gang Leader for a Day
Author: Sudhir Venkatesh
  • News
"Rogue Sociologist" Embeds With Prostitutes and Crack Dealers in NYC - Mother Jones
Sun, 15 Sep 2013 00:17:20 -0700
Mother Jones"Rogue Sociologist" Embeds With Prostitutes and Crack Dealers in NYCMother JonesYou may remember Sudhir ...
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Sun, 13 Nov 2016 11:54:07 -0800
International Policy Digest (press release) (blog)Us vs. Them – Is It About Immigration Or Us?International Policy Digest ...
"Gang Leader for a Day" by Sudhir Venkatesh - Chicago Tribune
Fri, 10 Apr 2009 22:29:52 -0700
"Gang Leader for a Day" by Sudhir VenkateshChicago TribuneThe greatest achievement of Venkatesh's new book, ...