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


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Price as of 04/29/17

  • ASIN: 0062300547

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."u2014The Economist

"A riveting book."u2014The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."u2014David Brooks,xA0New York Times

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerfulxA0account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader,xA0probing look at the struggles of Americau2019s white working class

Hillbilly ElegyxA0is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisisu2014that 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.u2019s grandparents were u201Cdirt poor and in love,u201D and moved north from Kentuckyu2019s 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 ofxA0Hillbilly ElegyxA0plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vanceu2019s 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,xA0Hillbilly ElegyxA0is 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.

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