Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. VanceHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vancesticker-burst

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

byJ. D. Vance

Hardcover | June 28, 2016

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"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"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.

J.D. Vance grew up in Middletown, Ohio, and Jackson, Kentucky. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and served for four years in Iraq. He is a graduate of the Ohio State University (2007-2009) Political Science and Philosophy, Summa Cum Laude and Yale Law School, Doctor of Law (J.D.) (2010-2013). He has contributed to the ...
Title:Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in CrisisFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.93 inPublished:June 28, 2016Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062300547

ISBN - 13:9780062300546

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed this book I enjoyed this book. Found it to be an eye opening memoir about the author's upbringing. As a Canadian, it was fascinating to me!
Date published: 2018-04-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable It's an enjoyable read, funny and heartrending with some backup studies/links to prove his point. I might read it again since I feel like I'm missing something in the book.
Date published: 2018-02-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Insider's Story of Outsiders Hillbilly Elegy is an unusual book, not just for its geographical focus - the marginalized inhabitants in and around the Appalachian Mountains - but for its lack of the grand drama that propels so many bestselling personal narratives (John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hitman; Bill Browder's Red Notice). To be sure, Vance's upbringing and family dynamics are very dysfunctional - his mother is an addict with a revolving door of boyfriends and husbands - but it is Vance's cultural roots that propel the book and keep readers engrossed. Vance's grandparents are central to the narrative and to the theme, as an anchor to his deep Kentucky roots and as a springboard for his leap to the pinnacle of success. Vance's book is a subtle and intimate portrait of social decay in America's Rust Belt. It's a story of social immobility, the type of entrenched stratification that leads not just to obstacles to the American Dream, but to where that dream no longer applies, where aspiration is so far from day-to-day reality that one doesn't even dream. In Vance's hillbilly world there is no path to 'success'; personal choices such as whether to show up at work regularly or whether to pursue higher education are disconnected from their (probable) outcomes. Economic circumstance is the result of an unseen, outside force. Those fortunate enough to attend college return only to visit, not to work and settle, and those 'fortunate' enough to own their homes in an economically declining town end up with an impediment to mobility rather than an appreciating asset. A "deep skepticism of the very institutions of our society" prevents the usual policy levers of government from enabling or encouraging the dream - a more intractable challenge than mere statistics could convey. While we know that many factors influence social and economic mobility, what Vance shows and what most books on the subject do not, is the importance of culture and setting to those outcomes. Hillbilly Elegy is similar to the tough love ethos of Dambisa Moyo (Dead Aid) and Calvin Helin (Dances with Dependency), but its wisdom is offered through the loving rather than critical lens of an insider, a member of the group - criticism that is matter-of-fact and observational, rather than condescending and prescriptive. Vance is a capable and at times funny author - a couple of his stories produced outbursts of laughter, especially his description of his grandparents ransacking a toy store in overreaction to a perceived insult - and his simple story makes a profound point without resorting to statistics or melodrama. An excellent book, and an essential compliment to the more scholarly works of Putnam (Bowling Alone) or Charles Murray (Coming Apart).
Date published: 2018-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book. As a Canadian, I enjoyed the insight from this book. It was slightly depressing at times though.
Date published: 2018-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! I enjoyed this book very much. I found it interesting to read about a population that I don't know much about.
Date published: 2018-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good read Excellent book. Easy to follow. I love books that are about families and cultures, and this had a nice mix of statistics to back ideas and finding that the author already knew to be true about the region he grew up in.
Date published: 2017-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy Read This book is easy to read in part because the authors writing is captivating while not being too litterary and because the book itself is fascinating. Many of my American friends have read this book and urged me to read it, and now I understand why. This books gives you a true understanding of the Midwest, and a part of America that is unknown to most, outside but also in the USA.
Date published: 2017-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific read An honest portrayal of a Rust Belt family, and a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class #plumreview
Date published: 2017-11-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting! His family is interesting and his take on his community's faults and what not are insightful. I loved Memaw!
Date published: 2017-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting This was quite an engaging read. I'm not typically one for memoirs, but I could not put this one down. JD Vance gives an intimate view of the culture he was raised in. Would read more from him.
Date published: 2017-10-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Engaging read! I really enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy. Enjoyed Vance's mix of sociological research and personal stories. I wish he would have delved deeper into some topics.
Date published: 2017-09-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Definately worth the read Really enjoyed this book. I liked the mix of stories with some research.
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Everyone should read this book! This book was super funny! I loved it!
Date published: 2017-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling read I first read this through my local Ottawa Public Library chapter & later purchased to have on hand to lend out to friends who are struggling to make sense of the confounding reality unfolding south of the border. An articulate, powerful essay that tries to put a stop to passing the blame in a game of political hot-potato. Recommended read for anyone looking to get to root-causes. For those hoping this will also provide action plans to combating the vicious cycles outlined, we may have to wait for Vance's next book.
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must-Read! This book is funny, well written and fast paced. Not just a biography about J.D. Vance who escaped life in Appalachian mountains to become a US Marine and Yale Law graduate but a look into the culture and challenges of middle America. Shines a new light onto the last election. Great book!
Date published: 2017-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Read This memoir opened my eyes to aspects of America I've never been exposed to. It's important to keep in mind that this is one person's view/experience, but definitely worth a read.
Date published: 2017-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable An interesting glimpse into a subculture that I hadn't known much about. I found the book engaging but I'm not certain why it's been such a hit.
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from OK read but overrated It was readable but it didn't live up to my expectation. I was hoping to see some insights into their culture/mentality but the book ended up being largely his memoir, which is, "I got my shit together and became a Yale-educated lawyer". It was frustrating to read at times because of the author's incoherence, and I found his tone arrogant and patronizing. Mawmaw was an interesting character, which is the book's only saving grace. My conclusion: Don't hire a lawyer to do a writer's job.
Date published: 2017-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good read Very interesting, especially given the current US political climate.
Date published: 2017-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Candid Memoir JD Vance talks about his own experiences and weaknesses without making excuses. This book will make you think hard about your own attitudes toward poverty.
Date published: 2017-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Interesting and Topical Read Very interesting glimpse into the possible lives and mindsets of the United States rural population. Good balance of personal anecdotes with reflections on socio-economic frameworks. I would say a must-read for everyone during these alarming times.
Date published: 2017-05-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating and candid I found this a fascinating read and disagree with those who feel he was too young to write a memoir. Claims that he criticized his own I feel, are taken out of context. A culture of poverty does exist in conjunction with despair in many circles. Many of us can relate to not understanding how certain systems work. I felt that way in my own life entering university when neither parent had attended. Even a few helpers along the way enabled him to achieve his potential despite the chaos around him and that was an important message in this book. In addition, the characters in his extended family are relatable for many of us, regardless of where we come from. Although not all of us have a defender as staunch as Mamaw. I didn't see a direct correlation to Trump except that he was more relatable than Clinton. Trump was a high powered executive with a lot of advantages unreachable to the average person. Maybe because he preaches a rags to riches immigration story, but which candidate doesn't? I didn't hear the racist rhetoric in this story that Trump promoted either. It takes more than one man to revitalize a system that has been entrenched for hundreds of years.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Read My cousing gave me this to read and I coulnd't put it down. A well told story of struggle that goes beyond the individual involved. A poignant and well balanced memoir. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a novel! An excellent addition to any library.
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Such a beautiful story to read. I loved it!
Date published: 2017-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good I really enjoyed this novel, a must read.
Date published: 2017-03-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Timely Might explain why we're living in the era of Trump today
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Inspiring Very Inspiring and great book to read
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Insight in to US Election Results Very well written book, which opened me up to the reality of the white US working class. Great book!
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Super interesting I would suggest this to my friends. It's an intersting book and worth the read #plumreview
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting Very interesting read. Lots of insight. Worth the read!
Date published: 2017-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from interesting Sad what a lack of education can do.
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from interesting says a lot about the culture
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Memoir There are certain types of memoirs I am drawn to - not the celebrities, the rich, the famous. No, I am drawn to the stories of ordinary people. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance is one of those stories. "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 that's just the surface story. Vance takes us inside the struggle of generations of his family to attain that 'American Dream.' Vance pulls no punches, discussing the alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and abject poverty that were an everyday part of their lives. But on the flip side of the coin you'll find the strong family ties, the unwavering love, loyalty and determination to persevere and succeed. His family's story is not unique. It's the story of every disenfranchised working class family in America. Vance is unflinching in his honest exploration of his roots. And I felt privileged to be part of that. The book is read by the author, adding an even more personal touch to his work. And honestly, I would have loved to have met Vance's beloved grandmother "Mamaw, who was an integral part of his own success. Absolutely fantastic listen!
Date published: 2016-12-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book to read finished reading in one day. Like it!
Date published: 2016-12-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Great novel very relating for the average working man
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not what was promised I was expecting a bit more from this book. Most of the content is typical of the misery memoir/survivor story genre, which is fine, but I was looking for more of a well-researched sociological examination of the culture of the Appalachian region. He does throw in some statistics and occasionally talks about the "hillbilly" mentality (his findings based primarily on anecdotal evidence) but I found the "culture in crisis" aspect that is promised in the title to be underrepresented.
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful Amazing! I could not put it down, and it gives you perspective on a class that I never pai much attention to. Love love love!
Date published: 2016-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Voice of the Working Class Painfully accurate portrayal of hillbilly culture. Mr. Vance did a great job giving voice to the white working class. (Which I wholeheartedly appreciate !)
Date published: 2016-08-04

Editorial Reviews

“Elites tend to see our social crisis in terms of ‘stagnation’ or ‘inequality.’ J. D. Vance writes powerfully about the real people who are kept out of sight by academic abstractions.”