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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis - J. D. Vance

Staff Pick

If any book this year can help explain the sense of alienation and rage felt by poor and working-class whites in the rust belt and Appalachia, it’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (HarperCollins, $27.99) by J.D. Vance. This is not a political book. It’s a memoir and cultural exposé written by a young, white, straight, Protestant male who grew up in hillbilly country – a part of Ohio that could just as easily have been in the most depressed parts of Kentucky. Vance’s family suffered from the afflictions so often present in poor white communities – the very communities whose votes contributed to the election of Donald Trump this year. Vance chronicles joblessness, alcoholism, drug addiction, marital strife, domestic violence, inadequate schools, and more. That Vance made it out of his chaotic and often dysfunctional surroundings (his first stop was the military) is a testament to his own grit and intelligence, but also to his luck in having a few family members who, even amid their own turmoil, didn’t give up on him. A graduate of Ohio State and Yale Law School now working in the Bay Area, Vance still yearns to understand his former and current worlds and the enormous cultural chasm that divides them. This book is poignant and timely -- a must read for anyone confounded by the class and cultural dynamics shaping America today.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062300546
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Harper - June 28th, 2016

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