Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Inside the Black Kings

Ideas for stories sometimes come in the most unexpected ways. For Columbia University sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, it was during his first year of graduate school when he was being held captive in an abandoned housing project by the Chicago gang the Black Kings. Venkatesh will tell the story of his seven year relationship with the gang, which he won over and studied, in his upcoming memoir Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets. Sudhir Venkatesh has written widely on “vice careers,” including a collaboration with Steven Levitt on the economics of gang finance in The Quarterly Journal of Economics. One of his recent studies, Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor, won the C. Wright Mills Award in 2007. Gang Leader for a Day will be out in January 2008.