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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Hardcover – June 28, 2016

4.4 out of 5 stars 14,482 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[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’s view 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))

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 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.


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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
14,482 customer ratings
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Top international reviews

Janie U
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting for many people to read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 4, 2018
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 16, 2018
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Ishora
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight from the Horse's Mouth
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 5, 2016
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Christine Frost
5.0 out of 5 stars Hillbilly Hell
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 19, 2017
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Catherine Rotte-Murray
4.0 out of 5 stars A window to an unknown subculture
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 15, 2017
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B. Kelly
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, Boring, Boring
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 29, 2018
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Ricky
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the split world we live in
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2019
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Barry E. Sheridan
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended reading of the hardships of Appalachian whites.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 22, 2017
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Robert Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific personal view of growing up in the industrial underclass
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 18, 2020
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D. Sanders
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read with a BUT
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 11, 2017
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Bob AH
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual tale of optimism in middle America
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 19, 2018
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South London Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended memoir with first-hand insight into the "class structure" in America.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 21, 2017
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Thornhill Cate
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching, emotional read that educates as it enlightens
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 29, 2018
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Nickmit
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational and enlightening read from an exciting new talent
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 13, 2017
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DAVID
5.0 out of 5 stars Just finished reading 'Hillbilly elegy: a memoir of a ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 12, 2018
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