Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
- Publish Date: 2016-06-28
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: J. D. Vance
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF 6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN AND SOON TO BE A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD
You will not read a more important book about America this year.âThe Economist
A riveting book.âThe Wall Street Journal
Essential reading.âDavid Brooks,Â New York Times
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerfulÂ account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader,Â probing look at the struggles of Americaâs white working class
Hillbilly ElegyÂ is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisisâthat 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.âs grandparents were âdirt poor and in love,â and moved north from Kentuckyâs 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 ofÂ Hillbilly ElegyÂ plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vanceâs 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,Â Hillbilly ElegyÂ 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.