[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 11 May 2009]
Sudhir Venkatesh has something wrong with his brain, and we’re all the better for it. At least it’s hard to imagine anything but pathological lack of fear would lead a sociology grad student to go hang out with a drug-dealing gang in arguably one of the worst ghettos in America.
We’re all the better for it since Venkatesh’s Gang Leader for a Day is a compelling and eminently readable account of life inside a ghetto, both for the gangs and the citizens who make it their home.
The most profound feeling you get from reading Gang Leader for a Day is also the most mundane—that people struggling to deal with lives mired in poverty, drugs, and violence are just that: people. Underneath it all they’re no different from anybody else.
Gang Leader for a Day is a wonderful and important book. Highly recommended.