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

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

by J. D. Vance
4.2 122


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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062300546
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/28/2016
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 361
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

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 dogs.

Author mail for J.D. Vance can be sent to the below:

P.O. Box 1040
West Chester, OH 45071

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 122 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw an interview with Mr. Vance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," and knew I had to read his book. As a veteran teacher in the Rust Belt, the story of his youth describes a growing number of my students and their home lives. While I witness firsthand why these children are not making it academically and exhibiting increased behavioral issues, it is more politically correct to blame the educators, schools, the government and their failed public policy for the decline in our students' abilites to compete in this global economy. JD Vance does not offer a solution to these problems, but he does suggest "It can start when we stop blaming others and ask ourselves what can we do to make it better."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am an Appalachian, too, a western Pennsylvanian. I was moved to tears by how accurately JD describes our families' and towns' misfortunes in the last decades.This is the first conservative opinion in a long time that gets it right. I thoroughly enjoyed his life story, was uplifted by it, and feel restored hope---if we can get Appalachia to read this, listen act!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is nothing really surprising in this book, but it is very welcome to have a frank look at these truths about American life. Vance uses his Ivy league advantage to give his memoir a heartfelt shove on to the national stage. His story is moving, scary, and aggravating in turns as he navigates through childhood in decaying towns in Southern Ohio to what most would consider a life of great success. Yet he can't really leave his past behind and,understandably, doesn't really want to. Its just a question of self preservation. Truly it can be hard to know where you fit in the world. Recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was difficult to put down. Both tragic and hopeful, the author's story illustrates the powerful influence family has on the individual and the culture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really good and thoughtful book. It actually helped me better understand my husband and his family, who have similar roots. Really good insight by the author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Educational and enlightening
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a young adult working in SW Va I first came into contact with these stereotypical hillbillies. They were as alien to me (having grown up in CA & Washington DC) as I was to them. I couldnt understand why they wete unable to recognize or solve their societal problems. Now I do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Helped me understand in a much better way the reason for the lifestyle in communities in Appalachia and the like, something so many people, including myself, have looked down and held in derision. I will be a kinder person when the word hillbilly comes up, now. No real solution here but a greater understanding of their plight is a good start. I recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Public policy people should read this. Vance did an excellent job with telling his story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I havent ever read a book, written in the first person, like this one. I hated to put it down. I recommend it to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A different world. Opens your eyes. Worth reading and thinking about and discussing. America needs to understand these people and help them to help themselves. To see both the good and the destructive parts of the culture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strikes a cord since I grew up in a factory town in Ohio.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish I had about 100 copies of this to share with others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I listened to the audio book (read by the author) and was captivated. My family is from eastern Kentucky and everything that he described is true. Many of my uncle's and cousins went up to the rust belt, especially Dayton & Middletown, to find jobs. The core message of the book, while the author plainly admits he does not have the answers, is the culture cannot change by just throwing money at it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good read. I enjoyed it although the memoir often read more like a statistical essay assignment. However, the plight of struggling folks in appalation region came through with heart and caring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is excellent, however i am curious as to WHY this book was $12.99 and is now $15.99 ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating right from page1. Loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for Social Workers and anyone who works with the poor!! A lot of insight on the lives, troubles and some very good ideas of helping them advance to the next class. This is a personal journey of ones life and how he overcame many hardships in order to succeed. There is a better way of helping the poor without race involved and he gives some very good ideas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This memoir has so much to say about the country we live in and the communities that have been too easy to overlook. I could not put this book down and hope that JD Vance writes more, especially with respect to the political climate since this memoir ended.
MullyJS More than 1 year ago
A very touching memoir on author's life growing up in Ohio and his hillbilly roots. I learned far more than I expected to about the disintegration of family, neighborhoods, way of life. It's a hard one to read in that he tells the story of his life, while dissects the roots of poverty, leaving you feeling hopeless for all those who are unable to move beyond their own fates, only because they can't see beyond what life had handed them. It could be any of us. And success could be theirs for the taking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I was reading this book , I found myself thinking about my own life in the Midwest . In my hometown there were a lot of people who would classify themselves as hillbillies. I now understand more about my own childhood than ever before . Excellent writing style I understand why this book was at the top of the list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! Brought back so many memories of my own childhood living in Appalachia a few miles east of Middletown.use to date a girl there in the 50s. Congratulations on your great story and success . I am so happy to have lived my hillbilly life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quit looking at reviews and read it! Great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We all know that the truth will set you free . What most fail to understand is that the government can not fill in for broken families and our own self doubts. Hope for a better future must come from the individual that daily makes choices that help, or hinder their plight .
Pattyd More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book, great writing - author has excellent insight into his community and background and family history and ties it all together really well. The readers follows along in his journey to self-awareness and understanding of where he came from and how he made it to relationship and education and financial success.