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

by J. D. Vance (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,0512871,608 (3.78)364
Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, provides an 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. 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. 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.… (more)
Member:tatuahponen
Title:Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Authors:J. D. Vance (Author)
Info:Harper (2016), Edition: Reprint Ed., 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:to-read

Work details

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

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» See also 364 mentions

English (284)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (287)
Showing 1-5 of 284 (next | show all)
I went back and forth on reading this book. Initially I was quite excited to read it but then as my resentment at the real life implications of the "economic anxiety" driven vote in the 2016 election built I thought "I just don't want to read about it." I'm glad I decided to read this, it is a compelling and often very surprising memoir. I think the most important message out of it is for people to stop blaming "the other," be that Government or elites or any other group, for their own failures. Obviously that is a simplification of his book and I would encourage everyone to read it, and of course that idea is fantastic in the abstract but it has to be applied on a case by case basis, but it is the best way for everyone to take control of their life and do something to make it better. There were moments where he clearly stops short because he doesn't want to admit that Government helps, such as when he writes about Payday Loans and manages to decide that the plural of anecdote is data, even though it is clearly not. He cites the perfectly appropriate place for Payday Loans then never checks to see what the reality of their use is. I really enjoyed reading this, even when I didn't entirely agree with him, and I think most everyone would benefit from reading it. ( )
  MarkMad | Jul 14, 2021 |
It works well enough as a memoir, and I won't argue with his depiction of his own life. Vance does have some good things to say about culture shock at Yale and the results of constant trauma, but I don't think Vance has the chops to make generalizations about cultures--especially since his own childhood experiences were of a specific branch of his culture, those who followed the jobs North. He tries too hard to argue too much from his own very specific life. It gets even looser when he tries to argue politics. There's something here, but it's not the revolutionary book some pundits have cast it as. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
An excellent, if disturbing memoir, with an abundance of penetrating insights. One explains, without making the explicit connection, why Donald Trump is so popular among the Appalachian poor, as well as many non-college educated whites who feel that their best days are behind them, and who are nursing a sense of grievance. As with other groups, Trump is promising them a return to a greatness they never had, and will in most cases never attain. The relevant quote is as follows: "Appalachian teens...learn from an early age to deal with uncomfortable truths by avoiding them, or by pretending that better truths exist. This tendency might make for psychological resilience, but it also makes it hard for Appalachians to look at themselves honestly...I spent the first eighteen years of my life pretending that everything in the world was a problem except me." The author is lucky. Most of his contemporaries are not so enlightened. ( )
  JamesSchumaker | Jul 10, 2021 |
This was more like 3.75 stars. It was interesting. I listened to an audio version read by the author who wasn't good but wasn't bad either. I could relate to way more of the story than I felt comfortable. A lot to think about. ( )
  Tosta | Jul 5, 2021 |
Bravo! Well done sir! ( )
  ABQcat | Jun 19, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 284 (next | show all)
added by janw | editNew Yorker, Josh Rothman (Sep 12, 2016)
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vance, J. D.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carlson-Stanisic, LeahDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
HarperAudioPublishersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raynaud, VincentTraductionsecondary 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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Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, provides an 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. 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. 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.

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