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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and…

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

by J. D. Vance

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Definitely a political and social must-read of 2017. Not to mention a very engaging, entertaining book. I ended up loving the author's grandmother as much as he did. ( )
  wildrequiem | Feb 22, 2017 |
This audiobook was really wonderful. Read by the author it had a great sense of immediacy. This is another title that liberals should be reading to see another side to this issue. JD Vance has lived through this remarkable life and shares the views of folks with whom we don't really have contact. This book really opened my eyes. Thank you very much for sharing! Thank you also to Harper Collins for sharing the print edition in exchange for my honest review. ( )
  njcur | Feb 21, 2017 |
I was intrigued to read "Hillbilly Elegy" as the Appalachian culture has always been of interest to me. Partly this is due to the appeal of the outsider image of rusticism combined with the outside-the-law image of moonshiners and bootleggers. I don't know if there are any fictional novels or memoirs that cover this that well, but the photography books of Shelby Lee Adams certainly do it justice. Also highly recommended is the 2002 film documentary about Adams called "The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia" by film directer Jennifer Baichwal.

"Hillbilly Elegy" isn't so much a portrait of the Appalachian culture as it is a memoir of an escape from it. Author J.D. Vance's grandparents Mamaw and Papaw Blanton left their Jackson, Kentucky home behind and moved north to Middletown, Ohio. Most of the book actually takes place in Middletown so it more a portrait of the Rust Belt. Middletown is the former mill town of steel maker Armco. Certainly the family roots are in the hillbilly culture and the memoir is very engrossing in parts, but it wasn't the "elegy" that I had expected. ( )
  alanteder | Feb 20, 2017 |
As a New Englander who married into an Appalachian family, I loved that the author went back in time to explain the history of this special American culture. I understand many of my in-law family stories better now. Vance's description of rising beyond the expectations of one's childhood brought tears to my eyes. "Upward mobility" has its cost and its emotional disorientation. In that sense, this is a universal story. ( )
  AnneMichaud | Feb 16, 2017 |
This was a fascinating memoir of growing up a hillbilly and becoming a Yale Law School graduate. I guess to sum this book up, I would draw on the author's own statement that the white working class has lost optimism. This is Vance's story about the optimism nurtured within him by his beloved grandmother, Mamaw. Fascinating story accompanied by the author's and others' policy lessons regarding key issues needing to be addressed to bring about change. I think this book is timely and relevant to our recent election results. Gotta love Mamaw! ( )
  hemlokgang | Feb 14, 2017 |
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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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