- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (June 28, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062300547
- ISBN-13: 978-0062300546
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4,064 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Hardcover – June 28, 2016
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“[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 Times)
“[Hillbilly Elegy] is a beautiful memoir but it is equally a work of cultural criticism about white working-class America….[Vance] offers a compelling explanation for why it’s so hard for someone who grew up the way he did to make it…a riveting book.” (Wall Street Journal)
“[Vance’s] description of the culture he grew up in is essential reading for this moment in history.” (David Brooks, New York Times)
“[Hillbilly Elegy] couldn’t have been better timed...a harrowing portrait of much that has gone wrong in America over the past two generations...an honest look at the dysfunction that afflicts too many working-class Americans.” (National Review)
[A]n American classic, an extraordinary testimony to the brokenness of the white working class, but also its strengths. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read… [T]he most important book of 2016. You cannot understand what’s happening now without first reading J.D. Vance. (Rod Dreher,The American Conservative)
“J.D. Vance’s memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy”, offers a starkly honest look at what that shattering of faith feels like for a family who lived through it. You will not read a more important book about America this year.” (The Economist)
“[A] frank, unsentimental, harrowing memoir...a superb book...” (New York Post)
“The troubles of the working poor are well known to policymakers, but Vance offers an insider’sview of the problem.” (Christianity Today)
“Vance movingly recounts the travails of his family.” (Washington Post)
“What explains the appeal of Donald Trump? Many pundits have tried to answer this question and fallen short. But J.D. Vance nails it...stunning...intimate...” (Globe and Mail (Toronto))
“[A] new memoir that should be read far and wide.” (Institute of Family Studies)
“[An] understated, engaging debut...An unusually timely and deeply affecting view of a social class whose health and economic problems are making headlines in this election year.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this memoir is akin to investigative journalism. … A quick and engaging read, this book is well suited to anyone interested in a study of modern America, as Vance’s assertions about Appalachia are far more reaching.” (Library Journal)
“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.” (Booklist)
To understand the rage and disaffection of America’s working-class whites, look to Greater Appalachia. In HILLBILLY ELEGY, J.D. Vance confronts us with the economic and spiritual travails of this forgotten corner of our country. Here we find women and men who dearly love their country, yet who feel powerless as their way of life is devastated. Never before have I read a memoir so powerful, and so necessary. (Reihan Salam, executive editor, National Review)
“A beautifully and powerfully written memoir about the author’s journey from a troubled, addiction-torn Appalachian family to Yale Law School, Hillbilly Elegy is shocking, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and hysterically funny. It’s also a profoundly important book, one that opens a window on a part of America usually hidden from view and offers genuine hope in the form of hard-hitting honesty. Hillbilly Elegy announces the arrival of a gifted and utterly original new writer and should be required reading for everyone who cares about what’s really happening in America.” (Amy Chua, New York Times bestselling author of The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother)
“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.” (Peter Thiel, entrepreneur, investor, and author of Zero to One)
From the Back Cover
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 HillbillyElegy, 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.
Top Customer Reviews
While ostensibly about the particular culture of the West Virginia Scots-Irish underclass, anyone that has seen white poverty in America's flyover states will recognize much of what is written about here. It is a life on the very edge of plausibility, without the sense of extra-family community that serves as a stabilizing agent in many first-generation immigrant communities or communities of color. Drugs, crime, jail time, abusive interactions without any knowledge of other forms of interaction, children growing up in a wild mix of stoned mother care, foster care, and care by temporary "boyfriends," and in general, an image of life on the edge of survival where even the heroes are distinctly flawed for lack of knowledge and experience of any other way of living.
This is a story that many of the "upwardly mobile middle class" in the coastal areas, often so quick to judge the lifestyles and politics of "those people" in middle America, has no clue about. I speak from experience as someone that grew up in the heartland but has spent years in often elite circles on either coast.
Two things struck me most about this book.
First, the unflinching yet not judgmental portrayal of the circumstances and of the people involved. It is difficult to write on this subject without either glossing over the ugliness and making warm and fuzzy appeals to idealism and human nature, Hollywood style, or without on the other hand descending into attempts at political persuasion and calls to activism. This book manages to paint the picture, in deeply moving ways, without committing either sin, to my eye.Read more ›
He writes very directly and honestly about the problems with white, working class America and why it is in decline. While part of the problem is societal, he believes there is an internal problem that government cannot do anything about. He suggests that tribalism, mistrust of outsiders and "elites," violence and irresponsibility among family members, parents without ethics and a sense of responsibility, terrible work ethics, and an us-against-them mentality is dooming the people who live that way to becoming poorer, more addicted, and more marginalized. Excellent book and very thought-provoking.
"People sometimes ask whether I think there’s anything we can do to “solve” the problems of my community. I know what they’re looking for: a magical public policy solution or an innovative government program. But these problems of family, faith, and culture aren’t like a Rubik’s Cube, and I don’t think that solutions (as most understand the term) really exist.....Public policy can help, but there is no government that can fix these problems for us....I don’t know what the answer is, precisely, but I know it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better."
That about sums it up.
The book was spot on and I highly recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's as if Al Franken's Stuart Smalley grew up poor in the Rust Belt with a dysfunctional family. Ronald Reagan couldn't have penciled a better protagonist, miraculously saved by... Read morePublished 1 hour ago by Frank Capria
I read this book because it was so often mentioned during the 2016 presidential race as a description of many of the people who supported Trump, disenfranchised poor whites from... Read morePublished 1 hour ago by Jan Johnson
I loved the bold honesty with which the author told his family story. No shame. Just matter-of-fact sharing of his truth. Read morePublished 2 hours ago by Kindle Customer
Vance lays insight into his troubled family, the pessimistic nature of the displaced Appalacians in Ohio, and the not-so-isolated instances of abuse and instability of many... Read morePublished 3 hours ago by Amazon Customer
Absolutely stunning book. I recognized some of me in his writings, as I believe a large numbers of Americans would. Read morePublished 3 hours ago by S. M. Elder
This book has to be understood for what it is: a rags to riches tale of "the American Dream" written from the perspective of a right wing conservative. Read morePublished 3 hours ago by Drake Donegal
Had some especially good insight, though much of the book was anecdotes that may not have been all that necessary to make the points made. Read morePublished 6 hours ago by Jtierney