A World of Gangs:
Armed Young Men and Gangsta Culture
By John Hagedorn
HV6437 .H34 2008
New Book Island, 2nd floor
As I was catching up on all of the day’s important news through my Facebook news feeds, a few of my friends from the other side of the border posted links or referred to Derrion Albert, the sixteen year-old teen that was beaten to death on the south side of Chicago in a street melee (heads-up: if you don’t do violence, don’t watch the video). All of this was on my mind when searching for a book to feature today, and to say that this book practically jumped off of the shelf at me would be a major understatement.
Hagedorn, criminal justice professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, delves into the urban center’s overlooked neighborhoods to research the groups of youth that have banded together to survive and/or thrive in the harsh city environment. The author looks at gangs all over the world and the reasons for the existence, how the United States isn’t the only hot bed for gang-related activity and why these violent groups will be around for a lot longer. He also provides an inside view to gang life on three continents, from Chicago to Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town, comparing and contrasting their histories. The book serves as an excellent resource and starting point when investigating urban life and its challenges.