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

Extended Audio Sample Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets Audiobook, by Sudhir Venkatesh Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,796 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sudhir Venkatesh Narrator: Reg Rogers, Stephen J. Dubner Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2008 ISBN: 9780061629235
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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 Venkatesh managed to gain entrée 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, he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of the next decade inside the projects under JT's protection, documenting what he saw there.

Over the next seven years, Venkatesh 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.

Gang Leader for a Day is an inside view into the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone. It is also the story of a complicated friendship between two young and ambitious men, a universe apart.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Whether you enjoy fiction, history, or biography you'll be drawn to Venkatesh's gripping retelling of his experiences…Gang Leader for a Day poignantly reminds us that there continue to be separate and unequal Americas that ultimately impact us all.” 

    Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. 

  • “The achievement of Gang Leader for a Day is to give the dry statistics a raw, beating heart.” 

    Boston Globe

  • “Compelling…Venkatesh gives readers a window into a way of life that few Americans understand.” 

    Newsweek

  • “Reg Rogers’ mix of distance and emotion is a perfect vehicle for the author’s story of his experiences as a young Chicago sociologist who hangs with the Black Kings gang to understand the role of poverty in their lives.”   

    AudioFile

  • “Venkatesh writes of his harrowing, exhilarating fieldwork with the great pride and insatiable curiosity of a seasoned news reporter…A dark, revealing exposé.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times bestseller
  • An Audie Award Finalist
  • A Economist Best Book
  • Audio Publisher’s Association “Audie” Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Benjamin | 2/17/2014

    " a phenomenal book. Eye opening look into a world we barely recognize, let alone understand. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dulcie | 2/14/2014

    " I didn't end up reading the last chapter and a half. It was interesting to read and learn about gang culture, but it was hard for me to a read a book without it leading to a big climax. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becky | 2/6/2014

    " I read this entirely in one day. The story was fast paced and eye-opening, however, I guess I was surprised that the author offered absolutely no suggestions on how to improve the living conditions of the people in the projects. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julio | 1/31/2014

    " I think this is an excellent account of Venkatesh's experience researching the lives of those living in the Robert Taylor Projects. One of the strengths of this book is its personal tone: Venkatesh explicitly acknowledges himself as an outsider to the world of Robert Taylor, is conscious of his personal biases and preconceptions, and does not ever claim he is an objective observer. It works best as a memoir and has much to say about the art of conducting field research. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 1/23/2014

    " This book was fascinating! Be warned--the language is, at times, harsh. But if you were interested in the gang chapter in the book Freakonomics, you will be interested in this book. It basically gives the background information and MUCH more detail. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jana | 1/21/2014

    " Excellent memoir of a researcher who immersed himself in a housing project and drug gang for a year to study it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jean | 1/21/2014

    " Intriguing and sad. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amanda Motyka | 1/20/2014

    " Not too impressed. I hate when people think that they are "gangsta." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elc | 1/14/2014

    " Read in less than 24 hours. A serious page turner. Highly recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ludmirska | 12/3/2013

    " fascinating account! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leah | 11/18/2013

    " This book was actually a bit depressing but very well-written and very fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave Schulte | 7/30/2013

    " Fascinating account of gang life in the projects of a big urban city. From a sociological research perspective the author's ethics are certainly brought into question. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen | 7/25/2013

    " I learned so much and it was a fantastic book club discussion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 adelaide | 7/10/2013

    " so good. read it in a day. Loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meagan | 1/8/2013

    " I can't think of the last time that I blew through a nearly 300 page book in a day. Very compelling - really valuable for me as a researcher and as someone who lives down the street from the projects but really knows nothing about them. Definitely recommend it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben | 12/12/2012

    " A somewhat interesting read. Either this guy was really naive or a real DB. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathy | 12/7/2012

    " Liked this because of the Chicago connection. Gave me a perspective to what gang life is like. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kyung | 10/29/2012

    " Very interesting inside look at the human spirit of the urban poor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cora | 5/26/2012

    " A good read. I thought the book captured the community poverty creates very well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Manoj Sati | 3/25/2012

    " Southie in da hood - what more can i say? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joy | 8/17/2011

    " This is a great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 7/9/2011

    " a really great story, but a bit alarming in how he conducted his research, considering much of this contributed to his PhD "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna Wilson | 7/4/2011

    " This is probably not everybody's thing, but I really enjoyed it and felt like a learnt a lot and gained a different perspective on street gangs and poor American neighborhoods. If you are into documentaries and curious about how society can work, then this is definitely a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julia | 5/18/2011

    " Despite the silly and misleading title this is a fascinating book. It also has something to say about social science research. I'd like to check out his scholarly work, which hopefully goes into greater depth. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 5/17/2011

    " This book is really interesting. A student studying at the University of Chicago decides to look into the lives of gang members. He becomes close with the leader of a major Chicago gang and learns the ins and outs of what it's like to be a gang member "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam | 5/16/2011

    " More entertainment than facts, but a good anecdotal (and very personal) view of life and crime in the ghetto, ala The Wire. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lily | 5/4/2011

    " An interesting book about a sociologist amidst the Chicago projects "hustler" culture and life in the projects. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laparker29 | 4/27/2011

    " Fantastic look at the inner workings of a gang. I'm amazed that the author didn't get himself killed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 4/20/2011

    " This book was an addictive, fascinating read. I highly recommend it. It will turn everything you know/believe about gangs on your its head. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelli | 3/26/2011

    " This guy's thinking he was the shit for gaining the trust of these gang members clouded his objectivity and lost focus for his project. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel | 3/24/2011

    " It's like a really engaging dissertation, or only-kinda-engaging non-fiction. A University of Chicago doctoral student spends years in the projects learning about gang life and the crack trade. Just read Freakonomics and get the abbreviated version of this story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allison | 3/16/2011

    " I read this book for a class, and it was informative and eye-opening. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lulu | 3/14/2011

    " Really exciting yet thought provoking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jin | 3/6/2011

    " This guy should be dead. It's a pretty ballsy thing he did. A lot of insights on the economics of drug dealing. If you read, and enjoyed, the bit about him in Freakonomics, you will love this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Unnikrishnan | 2/28/2011

    " This book is just too awesome for words! An Indian sociologist who becomes close friends with one Chicago's most dangerous gangsters and manages to run the organization for a day ... while he was a PhD student!! Need I say more? "

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About the Author

Sudhir Venkatesh is the William B. Ransford Professor of Sociology and a member of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University. He is the author of Gang Leader for a Day, a New York Times bestseller that received a best book of the year award from the Economist. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. He lives in New York City.

About the Narrator

Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and television personality. He is best known for his books Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics, which have sold more than five million copies in thirty-five languages. The Freakonomics enterprise also includes an award-winning blog, a high-profile documentary film, and a public radio project called Freakonomics Radio, which Dubner hosts. He lives in New York with his family.