Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

For A Day Has Take Away?

Having grown up on the wrong side of the tracks and having lived in the projects for a time, I found myself deeply conflicted by the author's portrayal of others and himself. In the end he is only somewhat honest with himself about being the biggest hustler of all in th...
Having grown up on the wrong side of the tracks and having lived in the projects for a time, I found myself deeply conflicted by the author's portrayal of others and himself. In the end he is only somewhat honest with himself about being the biggest hustler of all in the book. How exactly do you eat people's food and sit on their couches and follow them around for six years and in the end say you weren't even friends? Is this simply artificial distance inserted to make himself seem more scholarly, or does he really feel this way about the people who greatly contributed to his career? He tries to distinguish himself from the very people he interacted with and at times participated in morally questionable behavior with by describing himself as dressing appropriately for an Ivy League professor while returning to visit the ghetto.' This description of himself at the end of the book brought home sharply to me the reality that most people will take a look at this world, like the author, and then put it down and walk away from the very real needs that real Americans have and it left me frustrated and angry. ( Like this is there rightful place in a cast system?) That is not America, fortunately. For every person who makes it out, there are hundreds left behind and most people are unwilling or unable to do anything except close a book and forget. I highly question that anything will be done as a result of this work to significantly improve impoverished Americans' situations, a view that the author confirms? - So much for Sociology, huh? For all of the conflicting statements about various individuals moral choices in the book, the real heroes are the people who are trying to make the best of a bad situation. J.T., the drug dealer who gave the author the unprecendented access, reflects the true complexity of his environment and the ways in which people rationalize what they have to do in order to make a life for their families. In many ways all of the people who spoke with and participated in the author's journey through American poverty reflect the same principles and values that the rest of America have. We all make choices and do what we have to do to get by, no matter how cultured we pretend to be. So while I am frustrated by the author's need to distinguish himself from the people who shared so much with him, I hope that this book makes people think about the people around them and the very real suffering that occurs in our own country. I know from having lived in a place not to far removed from what the author describes, I cannot turn away and forget. While other people see a middle class girl now, in many ways I will never be separated from that life and I know that even this book does not begin to address the long-term difficulties involved in irradicating poverty in this country. This book then is incomplete and is in many respects like an incident report. It gives you the facts but very little solutions or substantive take away. 'Gangleader for a day,' however does reveal a foreshadow for America of what will become even more common place. This is subcoultures and underground economies which will become more common as our economy melts down and the powers that be dismantle the middle class into a future socialist state. Watch for the 'Amero' and America's continued decline.

posted by Anonymous on May 28, 2008

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Decent book to read.

Sudhir Venkatesh, who was a student at University of Chicago that studied sociology, took an eccentric approach to examining the African American community in Chicago. Venkatesh, after meeting the gang leader from the Black Kings, became absorbed into the culture. He ad...
Sudhir Venkatesh, who was a student at University of Chicago that studied sociology, took an eccentric approach to examining the African American community in Chicago. Venkatesh, after meeting the gang leader from the Black Kings, became absorbed into the culture. He admired the dangers and existence of a gang member living in the infamous Chicago projects. J.T., Venkatesh’s association to the Black Kings, slowly brings him in and reveals to him the true life within the gang. As time passes by, Venkatesh begins understanding the connections and the tangling dependence between numerous parties. Gangs, poor residents, police, drug addicts, dealers, and even politicians, all take part in the workings of the Black Kings. Venkatesh explains the thought process of gang members which is that they believe they are doing only what is. During his experience, he witnesses violence firsthand that is inflicted by the gangs and how order is kept. The first beating he experiences reminds him that violence plays a big role in gang life. It is essential to sustain their particular way of life. Throughout the book, Venkatesh excels at giving facts that answer the common questions asked about the projects and gives a unique view of looking at places, such as the Robert Taylor housing struggling to survive as a community. The hard truths, such as the presence of hookers, prostitution, drugs, and unnecessary violence, present in the projects is also touched on through Venkatesh’s experiences with the many. He brings understanding to the viewpoint of those, like the squatters and young new gang members, who feel trapped into accepting life with the Black Kings. He recognizes that with his research he compromised his own integrity. He observed men like C-Note get beat up and illegal actions such as drug deals. However, the information he provides through “Gang Leader for a Day” exposes the dark truth in the hidden lies behind the walls of the projects.

posted by APenglishPG on January 8, 2012

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 3
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    For A Day Has Take Away?

    Having grown up on the wrong side of the tracks and having lived in the projects for a time, I found myself deeply conflicted by the author's portrayal of others and himself. In the end he is only somewhat honest with himself about being the biggest hustler of all in the book. How exactly do you eat people's food and sit on their couches and follow them around for six years and in the end say you weren't even friends? Is this simply artificial distance inserted to make himself seem more scholarly, or does he really feel this way about the people who greatly contributed to his career? He tries to distinguish himself from the very people he interacted with and at times participated in morally questionable behavior with by describing himself as dressing appropriately for an Ivy League professor while returning to visit the ghetto.' This description of himself at the end of the book brought home sharply to me the reality that most people will take a look at this world, like the author, and then put it down and walk away from the very real needs that real Americans have and it left me frustrated and angry. ( Like this is there rightful place in a cast system?) That is not America, fortunately. For every person who makes it out, there are hundreds left behind and most people are unwilling or unable to do anything except close a book and forget. I highly question that anything will be done as a result of this work to significantly improve impoverished Americans' situations, a view that the author confirms? - So much for Sociology, huh? For all of the conflicting statements about various individuals moral choices in the book, the real heroes are the people who are trying to make the best of a bad situation. J.T., the drug dealer who gave the author the unprecendented access, reflects the true complexity of his environment and the ways in which people rationalize what they have to do in order to make a life for their families. In many ways all of the people who spoke with and participated in the author's journey through American poverty reflect the same principles and values that the rest of America have. We all make choices and do what we have to do to get by, no matter how cultured we pretend to be. So while I am frustrated by the author's need to distinguish himself from the people who shared so much with him, I hope that this book makes people think about the people around them and the very real suffering that occurs in our own country. I know from having lived in a place not to far removed from what the author describes, I cannot turn away and forget. While other people see a middle class girl now, in many ways I will never be separated from that life and I know that even this book does not begin to address the long-term difficulties involved in irradicating poverty in this country. This book then is incomplete and is in many respects like an incident report. It gives you the facts but very little solutions or substantive take away. 'Gangleader for a day,' however does reveal a foreshadow for America of what will become even more common place. This is subcoultures and underground economies which will become more common as our economy melts down and the powers that be dismantle the middle class into a future socialist state. Watch for the 'Amero' and America's continued decline.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2012

    A great, gritty read

    This dook follows Sudhir's graduate work in the Robert Taylor projects in Chicago. It tracks the daily activities of one branch of a gang, as well as the community residents. One part brilliant, one part fearless, Sudhir put himself in daily harm for his research. I couldn't put this book down and I look forward to reading it again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Gang Leader for a Day

    Sudhir Venkatesh, a student at University of Chicago studying sociology, takes an unorthodox approach to scrutinizing the Black community within the city of Chicago. Venkatesh, upon meeting a gang leader of the Black Kings, becomes immersed in the culture, dangers, and existence of a gang member living in the infamous Chicago projects. J.T., Venkatesh’s connection to the Black Kings, gradually brings in Sudhir and unveils to him the true life and affairs within the confines of their distinctive gang. As time progresses, the “Rogue Sociologist”, known as “Mr. Professor” to gang members, begins understanding and examining the connections and tangling dependence between numerous parties. Gangs, poor residents, police, drug addicts, dealers, and even politicians, have a hand in the workings of the Black Kings and each element adds a new dimension to the complicated relationships in the community. Sudhir explains the thought process of every gang member, in which they believe they are doing only that which is necessary and fulfilling people’s essentials. As Venkatesh learns more regarding the foundation of the lifestyle the projects’ house, he witnesses firsthand the violence inflicted by the gangs and how order is kept. The first beating he is in attendance for reminds him, as he reminds the readers, that the reality of the role violence plays in gang life is often not fair or warranted, rather essential to sustain their particular way of life. Sudhir does an excellent job at giving facts answering the common questions asked about the projects and gives a unique view of looking at places, such as the Robert Taylor houses, as a community, struggling to survive. The hard truths, like the presence of hookers, prostitution, drugs, and unnecessary violence, present in the projects is also touched on through Venkatesh’s relationships and experiences with the many characters living in this poor community. He brings understanding of the viewpoint of those, like the squatters and young new gang members, who feel trapped into accepting life with the Black Kings. He recognizes with his research he compromised his own integrity, observing men, like C-Note, get beat up and illegal drug dealings. However, the information he sends on through “Gang Leader for a Day” exposes the dark truth in the once hidden lies about the true dealings behind the walls of the projects.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Decent book to read.

    Sudhir Venkatesh, who was a student at University of Chicago that studied sociology, took an eccentric approach to examining the African American community in Chicago. Venkatesh, after meeting the gang leader from the Black Kings, became absorbed into the culture. He admired the dangers and existence of a gang member living in the infamous Chicago projects. J.T., Venkatesh’s association to the Black Kings, slowly brings him in and reveals to him the true life within the gang. As time passes by, Venkatesh begins understanding the connections and the tangling dependence between numerous parties. Gangs, poor residents, police, drug addicts, dealers, and even politicians, all take part in the workings of the Black Kings. Venkatesh explains the thought process of gang members which is that they believe they are doing only what is. During his experience, he witnesses violence firsthand that is inflicted by the gangs and how order is kept. The first beating he experiences reminds him that violence plays a big role in gang life. It is essential to sustain their particular way of life. Throughout the book, Venkatesh excels at giving facts that answer the common questions asked about the projects and gives a unique view of looking at places, such as the Robert Taylor housing struggling to survive as a community. The hard truths, such as the presence of hookers, prostitution, drugs, and unnecessary violence, present in the projects is also touched on through Venkatesh’s experiences with the many. He brings understanding to the viewpoint of those, like the squatters and young new gang members, who feel trapped into accepting life with the Black Kings. He recognizes that with his research he compromised his own integrity. He observed men like C-Note get beat up and illegal actions such as drug deals. However, the information he provides through “Gang Leader for a Day” exposes the dark truth in the hidden lies behind the walls of the projects.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Highly Recommended-unique book

    Sudhir's book is painfully truthful as he explores the link between the inner workings of a Chicago street gang and the poverty situation in the Robert Taylor projects. What began as a search for answers to an urban poverty survey, led Sudhir Venkatesh to befriend a rising gang leader, J.T. , and gain access to the community on many different levels. His determination to achieve recognition and success with his professors resulted in eight years of research within the projects. This book depicts how unprecedented his experience was and he repeatedly explains how previous research could not be a relevant representation without spending time with its subjects. One of the first things he realizes from the people he meets there is he cannot reveal the truth on urban poverty from data collected by a survey. Instead Sudhir receives the unchallenged truth about those below the poverty line. He observes the neighborhood gangsters, dealers, crackheads, prostitutes, squatters, pimps, organizers, and officials in an attempt to understand their claim that they make up a "community" and life revolves around their "building." Their powerful stories show how they have been forced into this lifestyle but they have accepted it. Many of their decisions center around the need to feed a family and they are more likely to participate in illegal work over the minimum wage they would otherwise receive. His new friend, J.T., provides Sudhir the opportunity to experience the complicated life of a gang leader which can closely resemble a businessman's. J.T. is easy to relate to and understand. His need to gain recognition and success is not only similar to Sudhir's but also any other ambitious individual. Gang Leader for a Day is powerfully insightful, as a witness learns about a gang's crack-selling economy and its overall role in a community that would be lost without it. It is a shocking book that not only provides insight to a corruptly structured community, but also a necessary testament to the truth.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Great reading for criminal justice researchers

    This is an excellent ethnography on the social life of a "crack" gang in the chicagos'Robert Taylor Homes. This was Sudhir's first assignment conducting research as a graduate student from the University of Chicago. Young and old researchers as well as anyone interested in the daily life of a drug dealer will enjoy this book. I'm using it as a secondary read for my Research Design students. It is well worth the price. Prof RolloRT

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Didn't want to put it down!

    This book was a requirement for a class I took but I would recommend it to anyone. The story was very captivating. You go in depths into the life a gang leader and see how the gang system works within the projects. You get an inside look at how the citizens feel about the gang in their community. A great read.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Inside Peek to what Statistics won't reflect

    The author forged a friendship and was therefore able to have a first hand look at the way many people live across america. More than just a stereotype...poverty can truly become a culture. The arguments coming from the streets of america towards the middleclass, and at the end....the cold hard statistics and numbers which show that in the end, life on the street really isn't a better way of life as many are lead to believe when joining a gang.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Engrossing with Risk

    This book not only gave a raw, descriptive image of what poverty means but involves us in an engrossing tale about two best friends with a dark hubris. Though I felt the first person narrative was very effective I felt the pace of the tale fluctuated too much to become comfortable with a speed. Besides that this was a great novel and it really allows you to see some opposing sides of certain issues.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    Gang leader for a Day

    Bought this for my high school senior--he couldn't put it down. My 8th grader is reading it now and finds it fascinating.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2008

    Fascinating read

    After reading Freakonomics, I was quite interested to read more in depth on Sudhir's research. This book gives exactly that, with a very insightful and thorough look into life and the system that was in place at the Robert Taylor Homes. The relationship between the community and the gang and how each was affected brings a new perspective to life in the slums. Provocative material and compelling characters make this a great read. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2008

    Fantastic Follow-up to the Freakonomics Tease

    This book is the full story of the rouge sociologist's penetration and insight into the Black Knights gang in Chicago. The author's writing is insightful, honest, and touching. Very informative regarding the reality of life in inner city housing projects and the interplay between communities and gang organizations. Will change your view of the people and the activities that are so often misportrayed and misunderstood by the mass media.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 3