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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and…

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (edition 2016)

by J. D. Vance (Author)

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Title:Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Authors:J. D. Vance (Author)
Info:Harper (2016), Edition: Reprint, 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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


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Book club read about a man who grew up in poverty, in Appalachia, went to Yale (Harvard?), became successful and is basically saying I did it so can anyone else. Doesn't take into account a whole bunch of stuff, beginning with his being white. But an ok read. IMO should be with the Short Life of Robert Pearce (not exact title) which starts the same way, but ends way differently. Though I mentioned that to BC, they are not interested. ( )
  JeanetteSkwor | Sep 20, 2017 |
There was a lot of hype about this book and I fell for it. I know people who would fit into the catergory of Hillbilly as defined by the author. I feel that he over generalizes and perpetuates many of the commonly held stereotypes about this group of people. This book is part memoir and part sociological theory. I was very disappointed about the first part of the book. I wanted a fresh look instead of one that pervades our cultures.

His mother was addict and his father left the family. So he was raised by his grandparents, Mamaw and Papaw. Mamaw believed that the way to get ahead was more education. There were many times when the family depended on her wisdom despite that she almost killed a man in the past. For me, the book got better when the author put aside sociological theory and concentrated on his memoirs.

I especially liked the way he talked about his Marine Corps training. There is something inherent in the training that makes creates the image of success. Also to be exposed to people growing and learning instead of separated into a slow learner group seems to inspire people with the idea that they can do it.

I would have liked this book more if the author had reflected more on what the dynamics were and and not promoted the shame that he felt as a hillbilly. ( )
  Carolee888 | Sep 16, 2017 |
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
J.D. Vance
July 31, 2017
I finished this book during the July 4th weekend at the Villani Lake House in Pennsylvania.
I am very behind on reading and recording books, because I have been very busy at work.
The first few chapters of the book were very engaging, describing Vance's experiences with his extended family in Ohio and the hill country of Kentucky. The family was related to the McCoys of the Hatfield and McCoy feud, and had the same unbending codes of honor, and revenge. His grandmother was a particularly formidable person, capable of realistically threatening to shoot someone, and possibly even guilty of killing someone who trespassed. The next generation moved to industrial towns in the Ohio River valley, and they began to drink and do drugs, neglecting children, but retaining their sense of stubborn independence and honor. Vance endures foster care, supervision by social services, living occasionally with his grandmother. His mother is in and out of residential treatment for drug addiction. He inherits the instinct to fight for honor, and his family. He eventually joins the Marines
At that point, he starts to describe his college years and Yale Law, and the book becomes a banal autobiography, without much impact. In the end, I do not think he proves his thesis that the inbred honor and family secrecy of the hillbillies is a major constraint on their success. ( )
  neurodrew | Sep 11, 2017 |
Reading 'Hillbilly Elegy' (Vance, 2016), based on Vance's theoretical perspective, I see why working class, White Trumpians worship a juvenile, hyper-masculine, junk-food-consuming, tv character who takes, never gives his all to anything, and plays victim. And, probably most telling in my point of view, I see why he represents the Middletown, Ohio, ideal that one does not have to work hard or take responsibility for one's own choices to achieve everything. I feel Vance's reason may extend an explanation for upper-class, White Trumpian devotion (though Vance does not himself extend such an explanation): that there is the ideal that at a certain socio-econmic level, everything should just be handed to one and fiercely protected for privileged consumption whether or not consumption is deserved or earned.

I do not know if I agree with all of Vance's thesis. He is admittedly a conservative strongly promoting boot-strap mentality positing if he made it with hard work so should everyone else -- a perspective my bleeding, liberal heart rails against. Still, I find myself agreeing with him that policy can only help so much if there is no communal structure willing to help itself. I also find myself shaking my head in agreement that there exists a certain reasoning among some working class that preaches a good sermon on hard work but expects everything handed to them. (To be fair, I also scowl at the secure class who espouse the beauty of liberal meritocracy but establish, maintain, and protect classist socio-economic systems doing nothing to advance anyone based solely on merit.) Vance speculates some of this comes from hopelessness. I am only willing to extend that speculation as far as the outcome of the 2016 election that brought an idol into the White House that defies common sense. They elected someone who will do nothing to help anyone but himself hoping their idol will certainly do something in their favor. I think the question is what is that favorable something? I remain perplexed by a lack of plan I find in the Trump cause beyond inflicting chaos. Still, chaos may also explain what we witness today. Chaos plays a prominent role in Vance's thesis explaining the struggle of people living in chaos is they do not have the ability to make choices to escape the chaos. ( )
1 vote Christina_E_Mitchell | Sep 9, 2017 |
Wow. I wish I had not put this off for so long. Thank you book clubs for making me finally pick this up off my shelf. ( )
  sydsavvy | Sep 5, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
added by janw | editNew Yorker, Josh Rothman (Sep 12, 2016)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. D. Vanceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carlson-Stanisic, LeahDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, JarrodCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mamaw and Papaw, my very own hillbilly terminators
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My name is J. D. Vance, and I think I should start with a confession: I find the existence of the book you hold in your hands somewhat absurd.
Like most small children, I learned my home address so that if I got lost, I could tell a grown-up where to take me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062300547, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 03 Jul 2016 02:21:10 -0400)

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