Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy

From a former Marine and Yale Law School Graduate, a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy is a fascinating consideration of class, culture, and the American dream.Vance’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love.” They got married and moved north from...

Details Hillbilly Elegy

TitleHillbilly Elegy
Release DateJun 28th, 2016
Number of pages272 pages
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Politics, History

Reviews Hillbilly Elegy

  • Jessica
    I read this book as an advance galley, long before it became a Thing and I did not read this book because I wanted Vance to explain Trump, though he's somehow been chosen by liberal media as the person to do just that (though the handful of interviews I saw seemed more like Chris Matthews wanted to pat himself on the back for having a guest with hillbilly cred than actually listening to what Vance had to say). I didn't think this book would have ...
  • Julie
    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance is a 2016 Harper publication. When I first noticed this book popping up on Goodreads, I admit the title really threw me. I hate that word ‘hillbilly’ because it sounds derisive and conjures up stereotypes. But, then, I noticed the reviews were stellar for the most part, and so I took a closer look. Once I finished reading this book, I was stunned. I actually shed tears, and nearly talked myself out of leaving a c...
  • Jon
    2016 is the year of Donald Trump, and J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy should be at the top of every politico and thought leader's reading list living in the Acela corridor. Vance is both an excellent writer and a thoughtful person—and when combined with a compelling story, he's able to shed some light on the lives of those living on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains.Let's start with what this book isn't. It's not an explanation of why Do...
  • Diane S ☔
    Possibly the most timely read of the year, here in the United States. Not just a sociological view of this group of people I had heard nor read little about, but the experiences of a young man raised in this environment and pulled himself out, though he does acknowledge to receiving much help along the way. This book enlightens the reader about the huge disparity in thinking between those making the leas and those receiving the benefits of these ...
  • puppy
    My experience of this book was marred by misplaced expectations. It's described as "part memoir, part historical and social analysis", however the analytical parts are few, far between, and not especially deep. So, take out the "social analysis" and you're left with 200 pages of memoirs from a 31 year-old (lol) ex-marine cishet white male conservative with a Yale law degree. If that's your thing, then you might enjoy the memoirs. It just doesn't ...
  • Lauren Cecile
    Very candid account of growing up disadvantaged and white. The parallels between his demographic and a historically, systematically marginalized Black America are evident. Both populations deserve understanding and empathy, but I tend to think the author thinks his people are somehow more noble. I would have like to seen an acknowledgment that the two groups should not be antagonistic but work together to achieve mutually beneficial economic goal...
  • Bill Kerwin
    Have you ever wondered what became of the Scotch-Irish, who dug America’s coal, forged America’s steel and built America’s automobiles, who worked for the American Dream Monday through Friday. prayed to The Good Lord on Sunday, and revered F.D.R. and J.F.K. every day of the week? The last thing I heard, they elected Donald Trump. And I am still looking for explanations.If you want somebody who knows Appalachian culture from inside to explai...
  • Elyse
    AudiobookMy local book club will be discussing this book this month. I'll be attending- I almost took a 'pass'. I'm really glad I didn't. THE CONTROVERSY and DISCUSSIONS from reviews on Goodreads is already ENGAGING!!!! Seriously, I spent more time reading through every review - and all the comments on THIS BOOK - more than any book in all my years on Goodreads. My interest elevated - and my emotions were entangled. The passion of expression from...
  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    J.D Vance's grandparents set the basis for this life story. They move from the hills of Kentucky to Ohio chasing a better life. J.D.'s life is in both places. He does live a life that is very familiar here in the southeast. His real dad gives him up, he is told by his mom and Mamaw that his dad doesn't want him anymore. He is adopted by one of his mother's many men. Who also ends up leaving. J.D.'s mom is a revolving door of different men. (I'm n...
  • Justin
    I set dozens of reading goals for 2017, but I won't bore you with all of them. However, this book helped me accomplish two reading goals this year: 1. Read better books2. Read more nonfiction This book, while difficult to read at times, is an important book, and I can't recommend it enough. It hit me pretty hard at times. I mean, I wouldn't consider myself a hillbilly, but i did grow up in the suburbs of Nashville, and I'm honestly not too far re...
  • J.L. Sutton
    I didn't really want to read J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, but it sort of felt like a car crash you know is right in front of you. It's tough to keep your eyes closed and not peek. Even before I opened the book, I reflected that the 'hillbilly' culture Vance describes as in crises is the same culture that was in crisis 100 years ago. I wondered whether there was something about these people (my people as it turns out) who just need to act out eve...
  • Elizabeth
    People talk about hard work all the time in places like Middletown. You can walk through a town where 30 percent of the young men work fewer than twenty hours a week and find not a single person aware of his own laziness.Why is this guy the darling of the talk show circuit right now? He thinks his fellow hillbillies just need to WORK HARDER. After all, he did it. Obviously I am struggling to understand his positions (and condescension). He thinks...
  • Trish
    A twitter storm this summer brought this book to my attention. I read several articles and interviews with Vance before managing to get my hands on a copy. That circuitous introduction led me to expect some kind of treatise on working class attitudes, so at first I experienced the work through the distorting lens of others’ interpretations. This book is not any kind of treatise. It is a brave, funny, unsentimental growing-up story, introducing ...
  • Rae Meadows
    I loved reading about Vance's family, about his Appalachian roots, and his rust-belt childhood. His grandparents (Mamaw and Papaw) are phenomenally drawn characters. There are plenty of cliches in the writing, but Vance is an observant and sincere guide.Like Vance's grandparents, my dad's grandparents were also Scots-Irish from Kentucky who migrated to the Midwest to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Also like Vance, my dad was the first of his f...
  • Christy
    Hell hath no fury like a strong Protestant Work Ethic without work. Okay – that was my original, but it should have been Vance’s! Instead, he mostly blamed the poor for being poor, lazy, and generally culpable for all (and few) choices. No wonder anger and angst filled their days and nights, and they needed drugs, alcohol, and violence to trigger some brief if dysfunctional relief. Vance was born right after the decades of American prosperity...
  • Esil
    I listened to the audio of Hillbilly Elegies. J.D. Vance reads it himself. I found it moving and captivating, but I'm not quite sure what my take away is -- and I've decided that that doesn't really matter because Vance is an interesting guy with a really interesting story to tell. He was born in Ohio, but his grandparents were originally from the hills of Kentucky. He refers to them as "hillbillies", painting a complex demographic picture of his...
  • Jennifer
    "This was my world: a world of truly irrational behavior. We spend our way into the poorhouse. We buy giant TVs and iPads...Thrift is inimical to our being...Our homes are a chaotic mess. We scream and yell at each other like we're spectators at a football game. At least one member of the family uses drugs...At especially stressful times, we'll hit and punch each other, all in front of the rest of the family, including young children...We don't s...
  • Howard
    I am a hill person. So is much of America’s white working class. And we hill people aren’t doing very well….Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends, and family. – J.D. VanceJ.D. Vance grew up in the town of Middletown, Ohio. However, his grandparents were originally from Jackson, Kentucky, a coal mining town in the Appalachian area of the state, and had migrated to Middletown in 1947 so th...
  • Heidi The Hippie Librarian
    Intense memoir of J.D. Vance's childhood and eventual rise. It reminded me of Angela's Ashes except that instead of Ireland, it took place in Kentucky/Ohio and the drug of choice was prescription pills rather than alcohol. I was astonished that J.D. not only survived, but thrived. He credits his grandparents with saving his life, but a lot of different factors came together at the right time to propel him out of his dead end hometown. This is tha...
  • Rebecca Robinson
    I'll be honest I didn't totally finish the book before giving up. I hear Vance on NPR and the story caught my attention. Yet, what I thought would be a better analysis of American economics and poverty proved to be very different. It's one of those conservative love stories of " I got my shit together so everyone can". While I respect the struggle Vance had, I also believe it's a very naive picture of what is going on. It explains why people FEEL...
  • MomToKippy
    I am really not impressed by the author's hillbilly credentials. He writes a "memoir" at 31 for starters. If you have not read this you may be disappointed as I was because he did NOT grow up in the hills and hollers of Kentucky. His grandmother's family did and she left there for small town Ohio at the ripe old age of 13. He even changed his name to Vance - which is one of his ancient ancestors who was part of the Hatfield and McCoy clan. So muc...
  • Cheri
    Poverty is in the eye of the beholder. My father grew up in the hollers of West Virginia in a small town that hasn’t changed very much (if at all) since he lived there. Oh, wait. They changed the name of the street he grew up on from Pennsylvania Avenue to something sounding less presidential. Other than that, I’d be surprised if anything had changed. His grandfather built the house he grew up in when my grandfather was a little boy in short ...
  • Dem
    2.5 Stars ** It was an OK read but wasn't what I expected . I wonder who chose the title on this Memoir, was it the Author or the Publisher ? I have dithered and doddered over this book's rating for several days as I felt my low rating was out of sync with other readers but I just didn't seem to connect with this one and while I stuck with it I didn't really find it as engrossing as other readers. I picked this book for its title Hillbilly Elegy:...
  • Lyn
    A well written, thoughtful statement about our culture; where we are now, how we got here and where we could be going.I identify closely with the author: both of us were born poor and from divorced parents, both benefited from military service and both found a way to get through law school (coincidentally even though I am fifteen years Vance’s senior and am closer in age to his mother, he and I were in Iraq at the same time and both worked for ...
  • Meghan
    Much to say about Hillbilly Elegy, but first and foremost: Mamaw is a goddamn rockstar, and this book would not have been as interesting or memorable without her in it.Vance's memoir was released around the same time as a number of other books addressing directly or indirectly the topic of "white grievance" (haven't read them yet, but I'm thinking about "White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America" and "White Rage: The Unspoken T...
  • aPriL does feral sometimes
    'Hillbilly Elegy' is a memoir by the author, J.D. Vance, describing his impoverished Greater Appalachian trailer-trash Kentucky culture and childhood, relating the history of his parents, grandparents and extended family members, and their beliefs in religion, patriotism and family ties. Certain incidents here and there caused him to apply himself, eventually, in school studies. He apparently avoided any involvements leading to a pregnant girlfri...
  • Tom Mathews
    Much of the buzz that I've heard about this book is about how it would explain the Trump train phenomenon, i.e. how a large percentage of the American people could be made to enthusiastically accept the blatantly fallacious bullshit that a certain presidential candidate, now president-elect, has been peddling. I suppose it does do this, at least in part, but the book is far more than that. Vance's book is a painfully personal memoir that addresse...
  • Diane Barnes
    I am not quite as enamored of this book as a lot of people. It tells this young man's story of his journey out of poverty and violence into the world of an elite pursuer of the American Dream. He had luck, intelligence, and a Mamaw and Papaw who cared enough to help him along. The Marine Corp was another catalyst into the good life. He was smart enough to use all these things as a way out of a downward spiral.I'm not sure where the idea that this...
  • Margitte
    I don't know how to write this review. I was so deeply touched by this story, I simply refused to give it up for sleep. It made me laugh, and think and ponder and sigh. Gripping and thought-provoking. Life changing. Let's get the rating our of the way. Five stars it is. Mamaw had me crying and laughing on her own. I loved everything about her. I would have made a friend of her, insisted, actually, even if she would have told me to f..k off, Margi...
  • Liz
    A good friend of mine told me I had to read this if I wanted to understand how Donald Trump won the election. But that's not to say this is a political book. Part memoir and part social treatise, the book attempts to explain the mindset of the poor whites of the Appalachian/Midwest geographic area. Mostly Scotch-Irish, they are a proud people with a split mindset when it comes to beliefs vs. actions, especially concerning work ethic, religion and...