Saturday, February 9, 2008

Gang Leader For A Day - Sudhir Venkatesh

Gang Leader For A Day
Sudhir Venkatesh
Penguin Press
Copyright: 2008
ISBN: 9781594201509

Although this book is found in the Community and Culture section of the local bookstore, I think it could just as easily have been located under Biographies.

Gang Leader For A Day is about the author's experiences while he was writing his dissertation on the lives of people in the housing projects of Chicago. And, he had some pretty incredible experiences. The first time he visited the projects, he was thought to be a member of a rival gang and spent the entire night under threat before he was allowed to leave. Or, later on, the event that gave the book it's title, the day he spent being permitted to make the minor decisions for the gang.

One thing the book does is make very clear that its a different world that they live in. Extortion and bribery seem to be the norm.

Gang Leader For A Day is not just about the gang, but also tells the stories of other people, the parents, friends, leaders in the buildings etc, which are also affected by the gangs and their behavior.

It really is amazing that the author was able to get so close to the gang the way he did, and his experiences make for fascinating reading. I will admit that this wasn't my usual reading fare, but I think I'm going to do some more poking around in this part of the library and see what else I can find.
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