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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

di J. D. Vance

Altri autori: Vedi la sezione altri autori.

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
6,5113281,380 (3.73)384
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.… (altro)
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» Vedi le 384 citazioni

Inglese (323)  Francese (1)  Olandese (1)  Catalano (1)  Tutte le lingue (326)
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Compelling as far as memoirs go, though there is some redundancy and meandering, indicatingan insufficient editorial engagement. More problematic to me is the author's attempts to move from personal/family history and introspection into social and political analysis. Many claims and data are not backed up with sources and there are more than a few astonishing assertions that actually made me shut the book and put it away for awhile. One of the most offensive is the statement that "Hillbillies" didn't have an issue with Obama because he was black, but because unlike them he wore a suit to work. Obama wore the uniform of the Presidency like Bush before him and Trump after him. The suit was not why some people were so hostile to him and to posit that and other similar arguments in order to eliminate any possibility of racism, is horribly disingenuous in a memoir attempting to be real and revelatory. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
SETTING: Appalachians in Jackson, Kentucky.

Hm! My review for this has completely disappeared. 2/6/2023.

Fascinating story! Today, since 2023, J.D. Vance is a conservative U.S. Senator of Ohio, helping the fight to save our country. ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
I don’t agree with his politics, but it was a well written, at least. It’s the whole “rags-to-riches” spiel told by a white man, so it’s kind of uninteresting. I also think that this story would be more compelling if he had experienced his childhood deep in Appalachia, like in East Tennessee, but he really just grew up in an outer-ring suburb of Columbus (so, the Midwest). Basically, I don’t think it’s fair to call it a hillbilly elegy just because his grandparents are from the Ohio/Kentucky border. ( )
  victorier | Aug 23, 2023 |
I think I wish Vance had set out to write a true memoir. Hillbilly Elegy is at its best in those autobiographical moments -- you really feel for teenage Vance, his poor sister/surrogate-mother and his matriarch figure of a grandmother. Many memoirs increase their narrative power by adding analysis, but in Vance's case, I think the result is less than the sum of its parts. When he switches to political or socioeconomic commentary he takes an extremely preachy tone, which I think is not necessarily warranted by the narrative.

Although I would consider this book a four-star work (all for the memoir portions), three sentences really detracted for me. It's highly unusual for me to have such a visceral reaction to a single sentence, much less more than once in a book, but here we are:

1. In the very beginning (and then repeatedly throughout), Vance talks about how "Hillbillies" are culturally distinct from African Americans as a way of justifying their poverty behavior, but not that of African Americans...and then thoroughly fails to prove that. Through years of serving the poor urban African American population as a physician, I found everything Vance talked about as unique to Appalachian whites to resonate about the subset of poor, urban African Americans well. I think the two populations are extremely similar in their Protestant ethics, historic participation in the labor portion of the workforce and disenchantment with the American Dream. I don't know why this bothers me so much, except that it really smacks of White exceptionalism -- even when we're poor, we're special!

2. Vance talks about how patriotic he is and then says essentially that no one on the "Acela corridor" would ever understand that feeling. First of all, the generalization that the Acela corridor is all wealthy, white liberals needs to stop -- I meet plenty of disadvantaged people right here in my Acela-ified city. But secondly, OK, I'm white, I'm Jewish, I've never been working class in my life, I went to a hippy liberal arts college and I'm a doctor, so I'm the epitome of the Acela corridor and I think I've figured out patriotism just fine, thanks.

3. He talks about the loss of American heros. True, the days of astronauts and politicians being the heros instead of teenybopper singers and actors are over (assuming the past was ever truly like that.) but then he brings up Obama. To me, Obama is the American hero of our generation -- a brilliant, charismatic, young president, who pulled the economy out of a death spiral, brought healthcare to millions, brought about the legalization of gay marriage, doubled the number of female supreme court justices in the history of the country and did it all while keeping his nose incredibly clean. To Vance, Obama is an "alien." Not because he's black, Vance hastens, but because he's well-spoken and highly educated. Yes, this is the complaint of someone who less than 50 pages prior said that what the Appalachians need is an American politician hero. But, apparently not a well-spoken, highly-educated (black) one. If you think there's racism between those lines, well, I'm with you.

I kept wondering if I'd cut Vance more slack if I didn't know that he was a Republican, but the fact of the matter is that overall, I felt like he didn't read between his own lines. He talks about his understanding of learned helplessness, but then is dumbfounded when his neighbors won't commit to jobs. He talks about how he believes culture drags down everyone in it, but then says that he thinks the best that can happen is placing a thumb on the scale for disadvantaged kids, rather than the evidence-based practices, like housing-first that's been shown to intervene on culture.

It's not all bad -- some of Vance's comments are both critical and point out a recurrent problem I see in my own larger community: especially an unawareness of need-based aid for college by those who actually need it and the way that community college and other less prestigious institutions often cost more, rather than less for the working class and come with less of the unwritten benefits. Overall, I found Vance bracingly honest and reflective about his own experience growing up in the working class, but I wish he would think about generalizing his experience beyond the Appalachians. ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
For the life of me, I can't understand why this book has been so popular. It is a self-congratulating memoir. He does make some value judgments about the white working class. Otherwise, he is chronicling his rise to success against all the odds.

The title of the book is a misnomer. Hillbilly Elegy is an autobiography of someone who grew up in the Rust Belt, Middletown Ohio, with family who hails from Eastern Kentucky. ( )
  dmtrader | Aug 4, 2023 |
aggiunto da janw | modificaNew Yorker, Josh Rothman (Sep 12, 2016)
 

» Aggiungi altri autori (4 potenziali)

Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Vance, J. D.autore primariotutte le edizioniconfermato
Carlson-Stanisic, LeahDesignerautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Heuvelmans, TonTraduttoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Raynaud, VincentTraduttoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Taylor, JarrodProgetto della copertinaautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Vance, J. D.Narratoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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Introduction
My name is J. D. Vance, and I think I should start with a confession: I find the existence of the book you hold in your hands somewhat absurd.
Like most small children, I learned my home address so that if I got lost, I could tell a grown-up where to take me.
[Afterword] Many people, especially those who know me well, have asked me to describe my life since Hillbilly Elegy was published about two years ago.
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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.

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