A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
J. D. Vance
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal
"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
A perspective that You'll never hear outside of Appalachia.
JD Vance gives a voice to the millions of people that it's ok to look down on. It shows how you can break the cycle of poverty. Great read!!!
A thoughtful look into the home lives of struggling white America
This is a rare first-person account of what it's like to be a hillbilly. The author's caring but highly critical look at the toxic state of whole communities helped me understand the dysfunction and anger of many poor white people in America.
When the book followed his life to the more standard struggles (studying and being a Marine) I found it less original and insightful though he tried to stick to the theme.
I read this book because of an article I read in the NY Times. I truly want to understand why anyone especially the poor would vote for Drumph. It was a decent read, but I still cannot understand Drumph’s appeal to working class whites.