Sudhir Venkatesh is the young sociologist who became famous in Freakonomics (Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?)
Gang Leader for a Day is a gripping journey of discovery about life on the wrong side of the tracks.
When naïve sociology student Sudhir Venakatesh went to find out more about urban poverty in Chicago, the last thing he expected was to be held hostage by a gang. And he never guessed that, after being released, hed want to return to find out more about them, ignoring everyones advice and entering a dangerous world beyond anything hed ever experienced.
In the Robert Taylor Homes projects on Chicagos South Side, Sudhir befriends J.T., a gang leader for the Black Kings. As their friendship grows, he slowly gains J.T.s trust, until one day, in order to convince Sudhir of his own CEO-like qualities, J.T. makes him leader of the gang. Deciding who cleans up the buildings after a party gets out of hand is one thing, but what do you do when Billy says that Otis lied about how much crack he sold, and somebody needs to be punished? Whats more, why does J.T. make his henchmen, the shorties, stay in school? When will T-Bone (in charge of gang security, takes his job very seriously) intervene in a mob lynching? Just who does C-Note have to pay if he wants to carry on washing cars? What is the difference between a regular hustler and a hype and is Peanut telling him the truth about which she is? Why is Moochie sleeping with Ms Bailey, the all-powerful president of the building, thirty years his senior? And, when the FBI finally starts cracking down on the Black Kings, is it time to get out or is it too late?
Incredibly funny, and heartbreaking, this is a story of one mans commitment really to cross the line, to understand how the people he is studying live day to day. What he doesnt expect is to become part of their lives.