Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

Large Print - 2017
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A #1 New York Times BestsellerHillbilly 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.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine :, Thorndike Press,, 2017
Edition: Large print edition
Copyright Date: ♭2016
ISBN: 9781410496669
141049666X
Characteristics: 381 pages ;,23 cm

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s
Schultze1104
Apr 07, 2019

Interesting, quick read. Book seems outdated now that Obama is no longer president. I'd like to see an afterward added to the book regarding Vance's take on the Trump presidency.

k
kvantrump
Mar 08, 2019

An eyeopener to life in coal mining Appalachia.

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lukasevansherman
Feb 13, 2019

The book that all the pundits told us to read so we can "get" Appalachia and the white working class Trump voter. There is so much wrong with the book and Vance, who is now some kind of venture capitalist living on the West Coast (He's become what he hates!), is not a good writer. Peter Thiel is quoted on the back, which should tell you something. Rather than me, a left coast elite, continue ranting, read this interview:
https://theoutline.com/post/3147/elizabeth-catte-what-you-are-getting-wrong-about-appalachia-interview?zd=1&zi=brv5dre2

It's interesting to see that, though Vance is from southwest Ohio, he's given many people here the impression that he's from Kentucky or West Virginia. But southwest Ohio is indeed a region populated by hillbillies. Perhaps more insight into the area may be had by reading "Knockemstiff," a book of short stories by Donald Ray Pollock, about an area that had a serious pill problem before it became fashionable to talk about opioids.

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bhg0010
Jan 15, 2019

It's quite difficult to come up with something new to say about a book to which a great deal has already been written. In short, what sets the book apart is its empathy and its humility. The deeply moving account of growing up in poor Appalachia spares no detail in showing how truly awful 'hillbilly culture' is in destroying the inner lives of its people. At the same time, the author clearly understands the broader socio-economic forces and play, lamenting the death of small town America due to automation and globalization. The book has few in the way of answers, but it asks important questions that Americans need to grapple with.

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Green_Rabbit_39
Dec 04, 2018

Although the genre of autobiography can tend to be ennui-inducing chronological sequence, Vance's take on his semi-unusual upbringing is both refreshing and compelling in its suspense. Without being over political or demonizing factions of American society, Hillbilly Elegy explains the plights of the often forgotten low-income whites (specifically located in the Appalachian region) and why this particular group has such low expectations for both themselves and their families. Having broken the cycle of poverty himself, Vance looks back on the specific factors that allowed him to succeed unlike many still struggling his community, giving readers a greater understanding of both hillbilly isolationist culture and justice.

ArapahoeChelsea Nov 26, 2018

Read this because it's beautiful and humane. Few storytellers cultivate empathy the way Vance does in Hillbilly Elegy; he invites the reader in to share his experiences, but never asks for our sympathy.

d
DavidSpencer99
Nov 20, 2018

Vance has constructed this heartwarming story to sort out his conflicted feelings, the culturally ingrained emotions that, by extension, he suspects his fellow Scots-Irish Appalachians share. Vance’s feelings pretty much begin and end with family loyalty shared by residents of “the holler” in Kentucky, but inferiority and defensiveness go with him to Ohio and stay with him through years in public school, the Marine Corps, Ohio State University, Yale Law School, and the writing of his book. What is the nature of such feelings? The hillbilly harbors a “deep skepticism of the very institutions of our society…becoming more and more mainstream. …Social psychologists have shown the group belief is a powerful motivator in performance. …if you think it’s hard to get ahead even when you try, then why try at all?” No amount of success can change that mindset, but J.D. and a few others in his family do counter-balance the negatives of hillbilly mindset with the positives of healthy family ties and a middle-class income. For Vance, a mentor or role model is the crucial factor. “Each [successful person] benefited from the same types of experience in one way or another. They had a family member they could count on. And they saw—from a family friend, an uncle, or a work mentor—what was available and what was possible.” His grandmother and his sister provided stability. His teachers and drill instructors guided him to new habits. He tells his story in sentences at an eighth-grade readability level that almost any reader could manage. Most of the subject matter is lightweight, even the occasional references to sources in academic literature. We get prurient incidents like the Kentucky businessman who takes an electric saw to the truck driver who insulted his sister. Vance teases us with the question: How did he do it? How did the hillbilly with no financial means graduate from Yale Law? Don’t take this story as a formula for upward mobility. We get no proportions of positives to negatives, no crucial combination needed to escape the mindset of the holler. As a result, it left me a little unsatisfied, taking away a few anecdotes but no break-through insights.

m
momakek
Oct 20, 2018

This book was recommended to me and something I might never have picked up. I see the ratings are all-over-the- place and I can understand why. It is more like a documentary within a story. It was very interesting for me to get a different point of very of these "Hillbillies" that I never really even thought about. This was this persons experiences that might be very different from another point of view (see below). While reading I visioned Detroit and other places where poverty has erased whole towns and helped me to make sense of these types of places. Also I could relate some of the experience of Irish communities with those features in this book.
So I can recommend the read if you want to learn something outside of your normal life experience.
Another reader recommended two books that he/she thought a better perspective of these folks: Ramp Hollow and What are you Getting Wrong about Appalachia.

j
Jalenridge
Sep 30, 2018

Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance’s personal memoir of growing up in Appalachia, includes reflections on the decline of his community and on his struggle to rise above it. As Vance traces his evolution from insecure boy leading a precarious existence to Yale graduate with a clearly defined political sensibility, it is this evolution, with its inherent contradictions, that make Hillbilly Elegy a compelling read, especially for political junkies, and especially in light of the Trump ascendancy. Though not Vance’s intention, Hillbilly Elegy is a study in how the oppressed are seduced by their oppressors. This irony is at the heart of the memoir’s deep-seated contradiction, whereby the hillbilly community is at once lambasted by Vance as being responsible for its decline and eulogized as the victim of economic, cultural and political conditions beyond its control.

Of course, life is complicated and full of contradictions, as are individuals, all evident in this memoir; and certainly, people, are, to a degree, accountable for their failures in life. However, even though Vance cares deeply about his hillbilly community, his criticisms are harsh and his laying of blame squarely on an Appalachian community under economic siege is startling in the least. In light of the fact that this memoir has become a kind of launching pad for J.D. Vance’s political career (which is admittedly on hold at the moment), one must scrutinize his foundational ideas and the experiences that led to them – experiences that illustrate in detail how the privileged ruling class is able to enlist the support of those, including Vance, whom they have persistently oppressed. It is no small wonder that Republicans love this book. It is a primer on how to convince the poor that poverty is their fault.

Note: Since Vance credits much of his success to networking (“social capital”) it should be noted that a significant person in his network, and acknowledged at length in his memoir, is Amy Chua. Chua has been the subject of a controversy involving Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Google it.

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LThomas_Library
May 07, 2018

Other: Topics: Inequality, Race, Religion, Education, Mental Health (Substance Abuse)

l
LThomas_Library
May 05, 2018

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Frightening and intense scenes.

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LThomas_Library
May 05, 2018

Sexual Content: Strong sexual content.

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LThomas_Library
May 05, 2018

Violence: Strong violence.

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LThomas_Library
May 05, 2018

Coarse Language: Strong language.

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LThomas_Library
May 04, 2018

LThomas_Library thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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runningbeat
Mar 17, 2017

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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dzacher
Jun 28, 2017

In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck. 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.

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