Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis


From a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate, a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy is a fascinating consideration of class, culture, and the American dream.

Vance’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love.” They got married and moved north from Kentucky to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. Their grandchild (the author) graduated from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving upward mobility for their family. But Vance cautions that is only the short version. The slightly longer version is that his grandparents, aunt, uncle, and mother struggled to varying degrees with the demands of their new middle class life and they, and Vance himself, still carry around the demons of their chaotic family history.

Delving into his own personal story and drawing on a wide array of sociological studies, Vance takes us deep into working class life in the Appalachian region. This demographic of our country has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, and Vance provides a searching and clear-eyed attempt to understand when and how “hillbillies” lost faith in any hope of upward mobility, and in opportunities to come.

At times funny, disturbing, and deeply moving, this is a family history that is also a troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large portion of this country.

Title:Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:272 pages

    Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Reviews

  • Jessica
    Dec 31, 2016

    I read this book as an advance galley, long before it became a Thing and I did not read this book because I wanted Vance to explain Trump, though he's somehow been chosen by liberal media as the perso...

  • Diane S ?
    Sep 05, 2016

    Possibly the most timely read of the year, here in the United States. Not just a sociological view of this group of people I had heard nor read little about, but the experiences of a young man raised ...

  • Trish
    Jan 02, 2017

    A twitter storm this summer brought this book to my attention. I read several articles and interviews with Vance before managing to get my hands on a copy. That circuitous introduction led me to expec...

  • Jon
    Aug 14, 2016

    2016 is the year of Donald Trump, and J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy should be at the top of every politico and thought leader's reading list living in the Acela corridor. Vance is both an excellent wri...

  • Rae Meadows
    Oct 17, 2016

    I loved reading about Vance's family, about his Appalachian roots, and his rust-belt childhood. His grandparents (Mamaw and Papaw) are phenomenally drawn characters. There are plenty of cliches in the...

  • Bill  Kerwin
    Dec 02, 2016

    Have you ever wondered what became of the Scotch-Irish, who dug America’s coal, forged America’s steel and built America’s automobiles, who worked for the American Dream Monday through Friday. p...

  • Jennifer
    Oct 01, 2016

    "This was my world: a world of truly irrational behavior. We spend our way into the poorhouse. We buy giant TVs and iPads...Thrift is inimical to our being...Our homes are a chaotic mess. We scream an...

  • Howard
    Nov 12, 2016

    I am a hill person. So is much of America’s white working class. And we hill people aren’t doing very well….Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, frie...

  • Tom Mathews
    Dec 29, 2016

    Much of the buzz that I've heard about this book is about how it would explain the Trump train phenomenon, i.e. how a large percentage of the American people could be made to enthusiastically accept t...

  • Meghan
    Jul 24, 2016

    Much to say about Hillbilly Elegy, but first and foremost: Mamaw is a goddamn rockstar, and this book would not have been as interesting or memorable without her in it.Vance's memoir was released arou...

About J.D. Vance

J.D. Vance

J.D. Vance grew up in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and served in Iraq. A graduate of the Ohio State University and Yale Law School, he has contributed to the National Review and is a principal at a leading Silicon Valley investment firm. Vance lives in San Francisco with his wife and two dog