I live in a good part of town which is not know for creating people with street smarts; so that leaves me learning from those who have them and from books. Here's a short list of some recent ones that I've read. If anybody else has some suggestions of some good books on the subject just post them here.
I just finished reading Under and Alone by William Queen, the story about his 28 month infiltration of the Mongols motorcycle club. One of the things that stood out to me were how the bike gang were dumb, lazy, negligent of their families, incredibly violent but still had a sense of honor if only to their MC brothers. It gave me a little glimpse into how the gang thinks and why I will give bikers a wide berth.
Another book that I found helpful was Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City
While not a book about criminals it does show what different kinds of families face in a high crime area and how they cope with it.
As sociologist Elijah Anderson shows in the detailed and devastating Code of the Street, the senseless crime in the inner city represents a complex, though ultimately self-defeating, set of social mores. These mores, called "codes," stress a hyper inflated sense of manhood through verbal boasts, drug selling, sexual prowess, and--ultimately--violence and death. "At the heart of the code is the issue of respect," Anderson writes, "loosely defined as being treated 'right' or being granted one's 'props' (or proper due) or the deference one deserves." Anderson reveals a world where unemployment is rampant, teenage pregnancy is common, and social and educational achievement is viewed as "acting white." Although Anderson states that racism is a major factor for this condition, he notes that this type of behavior is further exacerbated by modern economic and political forces, and that it has existed as far back as ancient Rome.
As an African American himself, Anderson moves through the middle- and lower-class Philadelphia neighborhoods with ease, interviewing a variety of subjects, all of whom deal daily with consequences of urban decay--from the high-achieving young woman who had to reject her poorer relatives to better herself, to the former delinquent who tries to go straight after returning from prison. For Anderson, these are the true heroes of Code of the Street: people who overcome the temptations of the streets to help create a better space for the next generation. --Eugene Holley Jr. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.