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Gang Leader for a Day Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

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 Venkatest managed to gain entree 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 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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (1094 )
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Performance
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  •  
    pamela Pflugerville, TX, United States 04-06-13
    pamela Pflugerville, TX, United States 04-06-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Reads like a novel -- very well done"
    Would you listen to Gang Leader for a Day again? Why?

    probably not -- don't think I would get much more from it second time around. Very good first time through.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Liked it all


    If you could give Gang Leader for a Day a new subtitle, what would it be?

    The inside life of housing projects in the city


    Any additional comments?

    I was working with someone in a gang and wanted to understand them better. This gave me much better understanding but it is actually about much more than gangs -- it is more about the life of poverty in the housing projects in the city. Well written.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elisa Hong Kong, Hong Kong 03-28-13
    Elisa Hong Kong, Hong Kong 03-28-13 Member Since 2007

    You can learn as much from a terrible book as a brilliantly written one.

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    "Loved It"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noah Toronto, Ontario, Canada 12-30-12
    Noah Toronto, Ontario, Canada 12-30-12 Member Since 2016
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    "My only complaint is that it wasn't long enough"
    Where does Gang Leader for a Day rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Great book, one of my handful of favourites so far


    What did you like best about this story?

    While being a true story with incredible insight into "living in the projects", the story is captivating and as good or better than fiction.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommend this book especially if you like to get a little education while reading something enjoyable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chiang ShanghaiChina 04-24-09
    Chiang ShanghaiChina 04-24-09 Member Since 2013
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    "Gang Leader for a Day"

    insights of gang leader. Surprising facts and interesting aspects

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darrell Moore 08-27-16 Member Since 2016
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    4
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    "Police Officer's Perspective"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book was a good listen. The first 7 chapters were outstanding. The last chapter had great depth but the author read it in his voice and though he reads well he doesn't perform as well as the initial narrator.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked how it was more of a story than written in the form of lessons learned. I could see the legitimacy of the authors account of what happened when comparing it to my experiences of working as a gang officer in my area. I gained some of the workings of what happens socially from these gangs of long ago which gave me further perspective on my experiences that I have now.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator did a great job of performing different character voices.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. I didn't have the time to devote to one listen but it took me three attempts and I took the story in and wanted to relate it to some of my experiences working with gangs.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dez 08-06-16
    dez 08-06-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Love it!"

    I've listened to it 3 times. This is definitely one of my all time favorite stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JOSEPH 06-27-16
    JOSEPH 06-27-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Decent, not terrible, but not great"

    Ehhhh. I don't know. I just thought there was going to be more to it. Was just kind of an average book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    anthony petro 05-06-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Great story, voice actor has an odd inflection in his voice"

    Really interesting insight into Chicago gang life but also the broader community. Wasn't a fan of the voice actor but it didn't distract from the experience too much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa 02-01-16
    Melissa 02-01-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Interesting analysis, characters, and great performance"

    I was hooked on both Sudhir's reflection of poverty in Chicago and his complex relationship with JT. I initially listened to the book because of my interest in urban poverty, and because I had heard of this project in Levitt's and Dubner's Freakonomics book. However, I found Sudhir's and JT's relationship, as well as Sudhir's relationship with the community, to really add literary depth to a book that is otherwise a narrative of a research project.

    I will admit that the audio reader's tone and reading style was at first unsettling...However, as I continued to listen, I found that his performance really complemented the content of the book.

    In sum, listen to this book for Sudhir's fascinating analysis of urban poverty, the rich way he portrays his characters, and the audio reader's performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory B. Horne 10-15-15 Member Since 2015
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    3
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    "Misleading and Not 100% honest"
    Would you try another book from Sudhir Venkatesh and/or the narrators?

    Probably


    Any additional comments?

    The book reads as if Sudhir tape recorded the whole thing and regurgitated it in this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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