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

by J. D. Vance (Author)

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2,0721243,201 (3.87)201
Member:streamsong
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, Currently reading, Read but unowned, Library book
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Tags:non-fiction, American History, Appalachia, memoir, hillbillies, Kentucky, Ohio, poverty, politics, Rust Belt, sociology, working class

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

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Hillbilly Elegy - Vance
4 stars

I’m glad I didn’t read this book during the election cycle when it was getting so much attention. I think that would have distracted me from the original intent of the book. Reading it now allowed me to appreciate this book for what it is, an extremely well written memoir. It’s also reasonably well researched social commentary. Vance’s prose is direct and uncomplicated. He managed to be interesting and entertaining while tying his personal history to the complex problems of the larger community. I read very few memoirs, but this one held my attention from beginning to end.

I have a sense that Vance has some survivor guilt. He wants to know why he managed to rise above his dysfunctional background when so many others do not. He doesn’t have any definitive answers, but he knows some of the important things that worked for him. It can’t be easy to expose so many intimate and painful memories, even when they result in a best selling book. Vance cites a some research studies and a few books devoted to the social and psychological issues that his own story highlights. However, research is dry in the telling. It’s the personal stories that make hard line statistics a reality. ( )
  msjudy | Oct 17, 2017 |
5507. Hillbilly Elegy A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance (read 14 Oct 2017) This book, published in 2016, by a man born 2 August 1984 in Middletown, Ohio, into a seriously dysfunctional family with its roots in the hillbilly country of Jackson, Kentucky, who tells of his mother's behavior which one instinctively feels he should not broadcast to the world--but that of course is what makes the book so gripping. Though the author did poorly in high school after he graduated he joined the Marine Corp and served in Iraq, tough not in a combat role. He then attended Ohio State and managed to get into Yale Law, where he made law review and met the woman he apparently lived with and then married..He takes a few swipes at the misuse of welfare, which apparently makes right-wingers love the book although he decries the fact that so many hillbilly type folk stupidly think Obama was not born in the USA--as Donald Trump apparently also thought. Trump is not mentioned in the book but one can see that the weirder hillbillies would be enamored by his talk and attitude. I found the book consistently interesting and readable, though not overly profound. ( )
  Schmerguls | Oct 14, 2017 |
No rating because I did not complete book but stopped in 2nd chapter. I just couldn't get through Vance's description of the Appalachians as mean, stubborn, violent, and unemployable. Some of the citizens descended from the original Scots-Irish settlers did become successful but many have not and continue to live in poverty, anger and resentment without motivation to change. Heartbreaking that their hungry, malnourished children don't get a say, or that a large percentage of this population are ill and don't seem to care.

I had a very hard time reading about this negative population who are stuck in destructive behavior, and community depression. So many questions come to mind: Has their water been tested? Soil? Shouldn't children be removed from these families? What about getting some folks to come in and slap some sense into these people? How do you help people who don't want to be helped?

The little bit I read made me sad and mad.
  Bookish59 | Oct 12, 2017 |
One of the most important memoirs when it comes to understanding the little pockets of the country where, when threatened, some will resort to anything to protect their way of life. ( )
  JaredOrlando | Oct 3, 2017 |
I wish that every single person I know would read this book. What an amazing look into a single family's existence. There were so many events and situations that put me in mind of the people where I grew up in rural New York. I honestly feel that social/class/economic divisions are even more influential to the disruption in our country than even race or gender issues. ( )
  lissabeth21 | Oct 3, 2017 |
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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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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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