Gang Leader for a Day: Book Review

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Gang Leader for a Day Book Review It takes a lot of guts and no small amount of courage and cunning to infiltrate a street gang in the tough neighborhoods of Chicago, but that is what Sudhir Venkatesh did as a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Chicago. In order to find out first-hand how a gang that earns its money selling crack cocaine functions from the inside, Venkatesh dared to get involved on a superficial basis with the gang. But Venkatesh wasn't seen as person who was just trying to get a handful of quotes and get out because his involvement with the gang lasted for nearly ten years. In the Foreword to the book, written by Stephen J. Dubner, the writer claims that Venkatesh was born with "two abnormalities: an overdeveloped curiosity and an underdeveloped sense of fear" (Dubner, 2008, xi). That is an exaggeration of course but the truth a reader finds out is that indeed Venkatesh is basically an investigative person and he puts fear aside to enable his entry into a Chicago gang. The book shows, "Day by day and dollar by dollar, how the crack dealers, tenant leaders, prostitutes, patents, hustlers, cops, and Venkatesh himself" attempt to build a decent life from ""¦substandard materials" (Dubner, xii). Part of what Venkatesh's book does is attack stereotypes that the public (and much of the media) has about gangs in general. For example, all gang members aren't rich and don't have gold chains like some of the hip hop stars on YouTube. In
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