Hillbilly Elegy - J. D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy

By J. D. Vance

  • Release Date: 2018-05-01
  • Genre: Sociology
Score: 4.5
From 1,320 Ratings



"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

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

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported 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 one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his 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.


  • My life

    By A Triester
    So moving and true
  • Great Authentic Hillbilly Insight

    By BrerBearPlace
    Informative but repetitive
  • Hillbilly Elegy.

    By YayaNetski
    Interesting story based on true life of the author and his family. Lots of hardships relative to many in today’s world .
  • Suffering and Redemption are Universal

    By cakEbabY1989
    I purchased & read this book when it was a darling with critics. Imagine my surprise when I see Netflix has made it into a movie (it’s a good, solid script produced by Ron Howard & Brian Glazer with spectacular performances by Adams & Close). Vance presents an unflinching look into the loss of hope, poverty, addiction & family loyalty in this moving memoir. His story is a great reminder that such despair doesn’t belong to any one group of people but is universal. He is proof the American Dream can & still exists, desire to improve ones lot in life is real, & personal responsibility/self reliance are necessary to make it out alive. I look forward to reading more from Mr. Vance.
  • Illuminating

    By big loud 1
    The honest and concisely worded truth of poor kid and the family and societal struggles in this day and age. The most striking thing to me is the authors age. He is still young. So many of these books cast one back to long ago time and dynamic. This one is different in the fact that a man in his early 30 s is talking about life only 15 years ago. And the sociological references he cites are still relevant and in play. It serves to make it so poignant and immediate and a present day accounting of lives that are playing out as I write this.
  • I only did this so apple will let me download an app

    By OfficialEmmanuel
    I’ve recently got a new iPhone and I moved from android to this iPhone 11 and to be honest, this is utter garbage. The iPhone software lacks many convenient features that an android would. Overall the software feels like it’s just made to look pretty then actually be useful.
  • Generational Poverty and Insular Cultures

    By Richard Bakare
    I once read that being poor is like a disease that can be passed on from one generation to the other. Almost becoming part of the genetic makeup of those who are stricken by it. The symptoms of the disease compound from one generation to the next, like compounding interest builds capital. This memoir, along with Educated by Tara Westover, have given me a clear accounts of a people I knew existed but did not personally know; Poor White America. Alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, health issues, and poor education are not the sole problems of the poor. But being poor is like throwing gasoline on these problems. Moreover, the social safety net, does always work to the way it was intended for the poor and disadvantaged. Partly because government policies cannot handle the intricate nuances of everyday life, and partly because they don’t offer the transformative change that gives them an out of their situations. J.D. Vance talks about how outsiders at a personal level either provided the leveling relationships for the healthy marriages and examples he did see in his family. Also, how they helped him personally navigate the climb out of generational poverty. I’ve often wondered if it was willful ignorance, stubbornness, or pure hate that keeps this part of America aligned against people like me. Like everywhere else, this community is just another bubble like all others, that can feed on it’s own misgivings about the outside world and perpetuate already existing divides. What I wanted was an understanding of how to bridge that divide, I know I did not fully get that from this reading. Both this book and Educated showed me that some people just don’t want to be helped. Some people who want help want to get out desperately from behind the first group. So, the least we can do is keep a watchful eye out for those who are trying to climb out and could use help, even when they don’t ask for it.
  • Hillbilly Elegy

    By Danaja even
    Book was slow, repetitive and full of statistics. Could not keep my attention.
  • Hillbilly Elegy

    By Neccesary Taste
    J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy focuses on a young boy overcoming the odds of a broken home and backward Kentucky ways to succeed in the modern world of intellectual universities at the highest order. The book is positive but a hard read as you visit young J.D.’s troubled childhood and broken home. The high spots are the hard sacrifices some of his family make for his success and his ability to see what’s good and move past the bad in his life. It’s heart warming story of choosing a better life with the help of those who love us regardless of our mistakes. J. D. Vance does not claim to have all the answers but he points us toward love, forgiveness and conservative practicality. We all make mistakes the difference in those who achieve is an ability to admit so and move on breaking the bad patterns of life.
  • Excellent read!

    By Seattle therapist
    Honest and compassionate memoir about growing up a hillbilly, and also helped me understand the minds of these people. Well worth a look!