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Hillbilly Elegy - J. D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy

Author J. D. Vance

  • Published: 2016-06-28
  • Category: Sociology
4.5 Stars
From 50 Customers Review
Price: $17.99



"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.

Top Customer Reviews

  • Honest, Illuminating Self Reflection

    From Rhulse26
    The self awareness and the ability to describe with such clarity and honesty the difficulties of a childhood of property, family disintegration and abandonment. The author holds a mirror up to his white working middle class culture and examines it from both sides, recognizing its gifts and its challenges with eloquence. A survivor who looks back with love, yet carries the burden of his childhood scars to this day and recognizes them for the struggles they still represent. The timing of this book helps explain in an indirect way the pent up anger of the US electorate that led to the Trump election. A compelling read. An amazing first book. And a triumph of the human spirit.