Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and…

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

by J. D. Vance

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,568964,666 (3.87)151

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 151 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
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 | Jun 19, 2017 |
"Powerful people sometimes do things to help people like me without really understanding people like me."

"...social mobility isn't just about money and economics, it's about a lifestyle change. The wealthy and the powerful aren't just wealthy and powerful; they follow a different set of norms and mores. When you go from working-class to professional-class, almost everything about your old life becomes unfashionable at best or unhealthy at worst. At no time was this more obvious than the first (and last) time I took a Yale friend to Cracker Barrel. In my youth, it was the height of fine dining -- my grandma's and my favorite restaurant. With Yale friends, it was a greasy public health crisis."

I had not realized that this book, which has topped the reading lists of liberal intellectual circles for the past several months, was a memoir. I expected an academic treatise, a narrative nonfiction work of sociology. Instead, I got a very personal recounting of the life of a man born in southeast Kentucky and raised in Rust Belt Ohio by a poor and chaotic family. Vance is still in his early 30s so this is a memoir of youth. It is also an examination of the cultural dynamics of poor white "hillbillies," his own word for his extended family and their community.

One reason for the book's popularity is liberal intellectual Americans' desire to "understand" the results of the most recent election and the increasing divide between classes within our society. Vance does provide a glimpse into a culture steeped in loyalty and mistrust, deep patriotism and vilification of government, resentment of the rich and a reluctance to consider one's own contribution to stagnation. Vance explores these paradoxes with his own loyalty on his sleeve and this is one reason for the success of the work. He invites compassion and understanding, appreciation for the good in his people even as they abuse drugs or scream obscenities at one another, and an openness to solutions that focus less on schools, for example, and more on the family unit so crucial to a child's sense of security in the world.

It's not great literature, but it's a worthwhile read. ( )
3 vote EBT1002 | Jun 18, 2017 |
Hillbilly Elegy is a story about the American Dream. It's not about migrants or ethnic minorities; it's not about the failure of the schools system; it's not about the failure of government intervention; it's about the paralysing break down of families and how the white working class lack the social capital to make progress.

Vance is an excellent storyteller who ably tells the story of his life. He concludes his story by kicking back at the notion that if only the government did more then fewer people would be in poverty. Instead, through his own life, Vance shows us the tangled web of cause and effect that has conspired to keep the Hillbilly's of Kentucky descent, poor and marginalised.

You'll come away from reading this realising that the solutions to poverty are more complex than perhaps you realised. ( )
1 vote gareth.russell | Jun 18, 2017 |
Loads of fun value, the stories about the author's gun wielding grandparents are amazing for anyone looking from the outside of that culture.

Even the rest of the family and hometown related memories, if sad, are interesting.

But the book goes downhill when the author tries to elaborate social theories out of his experiences and little more, and it gets even worse towards the end when he leaves for the Marine Corps and then university.

Unsophisticated is probably the best word to describe those last chapters, the author making a story out of being offered to different kinds of wine at a restaurant and other similar stories. ( )
  emed0s | Jun 16, 2017 |
The memoir is interesting and reminds me of my own life in eastern Tennessee before going to law school at the University of Virginia. However, it is unfair and incorrect for him to draw conclusions about a group of people based upon his experience in a limited geographical area. Not all people who live in the Appalachians are lazy. How can he presume to know which came first: laziness and reliance on government handouts or the inertia disenfranchisement brings? In my opinion, it is almost certainly the latter. It's difficult to stay engaged in your low-paying, unfulfilling job when the prospects for upward mobility are zero. His conclusions are also dangerous since it appears some policymakers are latching onto his conclusions as if they were carefully researched and studied. They are not. Serving the "hillbillys" in Appalachia is much more complicated than Vance suggests. I fear without a counter opinion on this topic, his "memoir" will be held as gospel for the current administration. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 95 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. D. Vanceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carlson-Stanisic, LeahDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, JarrodCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Mamaw and Papaw, my very own hillbilly terminators
First words
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

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)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio

Popular covers


Average: (3.87)
1 3
2 21
2.5 11
3 66
3.5 53
4 199
4.5 30
5 85

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,157,198 books! | Top bar: Always visible