Hillbilly Elegy - J. D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy

By J. D. Vance

  • Release Date: 2016-06-28
  • Genre: Sociology
Score: 4.5
From 1,742 Ratings



"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

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.


  • Hillbilly Elegy

    By IO4IT
    Interested in why anyone would support candidate Donald Trump, I started to read this book just before he was elected. Once elected I completely lost interest in the motives of Trumpsters and only began to wish them the same pain and suffering they have brought upon our nation.
  • Hard decisions

    By BADER4255
    When you read this book you feel it's talking about some kind of community that exist your own country. But you don't know about it or even worse you pretend that. I liked who he deal with his situation and who he take his own decisions to deal with this community. It's bad but it's real.
  • Raw

    By Markmillx1
    Rarely is an author able to capture the raw events of life and turn them into critical insights that resonate. Why don't kids from working class Appalachia escape poverty and hopelessness? Well done.
  • Excellent story telling

    By Jim Houston
    Had a hard time putting it down.
  • Compelling Story

    By Asgjvufygbh
    Politics aside, I found Hillbilly Elegy to be a great piece of storytelling. I haven't decided if or how the story will impact any of my political opinions, but it was well worth the price regardless. A lot of readers grabbed this book searching for answers to the results of the 2016 election. However, I think you can choose to take or leave his opinions on welfare or politics and instead focus on the emotional impact of his story. I enjoyed hearing about someone else's life, especially in light of the success he found against the odds.
  • Aaqa

    By Mjperr
  • Takes a village

    By Lizlax
    Hillbilly Eulogy is a great read. Truth is sadder than fiction and this is one story by one man who got out. Success is so elusive and yet it is necessary to ask ourselves what can we do to help others. Never stop asking that question. The book shares life experiences and ties in research and wisdom.
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  • Great perspective

    By A Concerned Teacher
    This book is one of those that gives you a window into someone else's world and opens up a new perspective on life. I highly recommend it.
  • Hillbilly Elegy

    By Eileenindy
    One of the best books that I have read in a long time.