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 the University of Chicago. It's a brazen 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.
©2008 Sudhir Venkatesh; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
"Gang Leader for a Day is an absolutely incredible book. Sudhir Venkatesh's memoir of his years observing life in Chicago's inner city is a book unlike any other I have read, equal parts comedy and tragedy." (Steven D. Levitt, co-author, Freakonomics)
I'll give everything a try
I loved this book, the writing is festinating and lively. All the characters, i.e. the people the author met throughout his years with JT's gang. The story and his experiences though amazing, I was most impressed by how he used the book to remind us that sometimes, it pays to stay quiet. Sometimes you can learn so much more by listening, even when in an unexpected place and from unexpected people.
This book is I think, one of the best autobiographies I've read. You should read it. There is so much you can learn, one of which is the lesson is to learn to accept others and not let appearance to deceive you as well as the levels of relationships explored and discussed in Gang Leader for a Day.
Great book, one of my handful of favourites so far
While being a true story with incredible insight into "living in the projects", the story is captivating and as good or better than fiction.
There are some reviews that criticize the narrator. I disagree. I thought the narrator did a good job at bringing out some of the different personalities and characters.
Highly recommend this book especially if you like to get a little education while reading something enjoyable.
Great read! Sudhuir Venhatesh was able to capture an honest truth of the relationship between local policing agencies and low income communities as well as the familial relationship between people in this community.
Loving the ability to get twice as many books in! One in the car, the other on a device ~ always learning.
This was a very entertaining listen. The language at times may be troublesome for those sensitive to this, however in an effort to align the real life experiences of his travels to this book it is warranted. Gang Leader For A Day is a wonderful introspective to urban Chicago and the realities of gang life. It was interesting to learn how closely the drug world aligns to a corporate organizational chart. If only opportunities existed and hard work could be focused on positive efforts. The author is lucky to have made it out of this experience. I am looking forward to reviewing his other works.
I was hooked after the first chapter and became further interested as the book went from story to a social study that was very well thought through and dynamic. Loved it!
The book had a really interesting start and developing story, however I felt that the ending was a bit weak and sort of dropped off. Also, it felt like the author did the research to progress his own studies, however did not do much for the people of housing projects. I feel that maybe he could have done more to raise awareness of life inside the projects.
I am Yaman, I live in New Zealand, I come from Syria. I love audiobooks, and Audible is the best source for what I love!
Please get rid of the silly pieces of music at the beginning of each chapter! It's the reason I rated he performance with 3 stars instead of 5!!
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