Monday, February 1, 2010

book ends book list: Gang Leader for a Day


5. This semester, I was given the opportunity to participate in a teaching internship for a composition course at Roosevelt. This internship entails teaching, grading, holding office hours, writing up a syllabus, and participation in class discussion. Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader for a Day is the main text for this course, in order to push students to think about the process of writing about issues in their present communities, and the relationships between the researcher and the subject. While this was a book for class, I read it as quickly as if it were a book for leisure. In the book, Sudhir is studying sociology at the University of Chicago in the mid-1990s, when he becomes friends with a powerful gang leader. Not only does Sudhir get an inside look at gang life and living in the projects, he also receives valuable information about these gang members' financial lives and the ins-and-outs of drug dealing. As I read this account, I found myself greedily taking in all of the unique details of this life so many people never even begin to fathom. While at times I found myself a little underwhelmed with some of Vankatesh's writing, the story never ceased to hold my attention. I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about gang life and the south side Robert Taylor Homes, or simply anyone looking for a unique tale.

L. Stacks

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