Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

Large Print - 2017
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Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, provides an 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. 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. 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.
Publisher: Farmington Hills, Mich. : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2017
Edition: Large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781410496669
Branch Call Number: LP B VAN
Characteristics: 381 pages ; 23 cm
large print


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May 18, 2019

If you want to know about a people or a place you must listen to those who are actually from there. https://soundcloud.com/user-972848621-463073718

May 15, 2019

I personally had many issues with this book. You may not, although J.D. Vance stepped all over my 4-year sociology degree and kicked it to the bucket. If you believe in welfare queens, or that those experiencing extreme poverty are doing so out of laziness, then this may be a more fitting book for you than it was for me. While I can still enjoy a book that goes against my political beliefs and education, I felt that "Hillbilly Elegy" was poorly written and extremely uninteresting.

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 Book seems outdated now that Obama is no longer president.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.

Mar 08, 2019

An eyeopener to life in coal mining Appalachia.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Add Notices
May 07, 2018

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

May 05, 2018

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Frightening and intense scenes.

May 05, 2018

Sexual Content: Strong sexual content.

May 05, 2018

Violence: Strong violence.

May 05, 2018

Coarse Language: Strong language.


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May 04, 2018

LThomas_Library thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Mar 17, 2017

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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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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