Honest and entertaining, Columbia University professor Venkatesh vividly recounts his seven years following and befriending a Chicago crack-dealing gang in a fascinating look into the complex world of the Windy City ‘s urban poor. As introduced in Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s bestseller, Freakonomics, Venkatesh became involved with the Black Kings-and their charismatic leader J.T.-as a first-year doctoral student at the University of Chicago. Sent to the projects with a multiple-choice test on poverty as his calling card, Venkatesh was, to his surprise, invited in to see how the drug dealers functioned in real life, from their corporate structure to the corporal punishment meted out to traitors and snitches. Venkatesh’s narrative breaks down common misperceptions (such as all gang members are uneducated and cash rich, when the opposite is often true), the native of India also addresses his shame and subsequent emotional conflicts over collecting research on illegal activities and serving as the Black Kings’ primary decision-maker for a day-hardly the actions of a detached sociological observer. But overinvolved or not, this graduate student turned gang-running rogue sociologist has an intimate and compelling tale to tell.