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


  • 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.

Check Out What Readers Said about Kindle/eBook!

An interesting premise, but does not take much of a high level view of the community. No real sociological exploration, more of a play by play of his family and life. A competent but uninspired writing style. Overall, a pass.By Brenda A. Landry

The book highlights the fact that a lot of us who live in the alternate universe of coastal California are truly ignorant of our fellow Americans left behind in rust belt America.By Stephen P. Berezin

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Product Details

Author: J. D. Vance
Kindle Price: Hardcover $16.79, Paperback $9.59, Audible $8.88, Audio CD $19.57
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Harper (June 28, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062300547
ISBN-13: 978-0062300546
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars (2,226 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6 in Books