Friday, July 3, 2009
I've been reading a lot more lately than I had been, but more slowly than in the past. It's often taken me close to a month to finish a book because there are always other things to do or with which to distract myself. Therefore, the highest praise I can give for Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader for a Day is that I read it in one day. I just couldn't put it down. If you liked the chapter he co-authored in Freakonomics or if you're interested at all in anything about the American experience that we middle- to upper-middle-class people don't get to see, you must read it. I also found it to be an interesting companion piece to The Wire. Whereas The Wire deals with inner-city gang life -- and life in the projects in the first three seasons -- from the police and government perspective, this book deals with it from the gang and tenant perspective. This book ends as the projects are being demolished, The Wire continued on past demolition for its more surreal fourth and fifth seasons. If The Wire is the best drama ever produced -- and it most certainly is -- then you can see how highly I think of this book that it belongs in the same company.