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

4.06 (26,737 ratings on Goodreads)
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN" "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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 160 x 234 x 25mm | 499g
  • Harper
  • United States
  • English
  • 0062300547
  • 9780062300546
  • 20,506

Review quote

"Vance compellingly describes the terrible toll that alcoholism, drug abuse, and an unrelenting code of honor took on his family, neither excusing the behavior nor condemning it...The portrait that emerges is a complex one...Unerringly forthright, remarkably insightful, and refreshingly focused, Hillbilly Elegy is the cry of a community in crisis."--Booklistshow more

Back cover copy

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America's white working class through the author's own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis--that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck. The Vance family story began with hope 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 one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his 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.show more

Review Text

"[A] compassionate, discerning sociological analysis...Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he's done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans. Imagine that." Jennifer Senior, New York Timesshow more
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