Hillbilly Elegy (Vance) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
[A] compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass that has helped drive the politics of rebellion, particularly the ascent of Donald J. Trump. Combining thoughtful inquiry with firsthand experience, Mr. Vance has inadvertently provided a civilized reference guide for an uncivilized election, and he's done so in a vocabulary intelligible to both Democrats and Republicans…. Whether you agree with Mr. Vance or not, you must admire him for his head-on confrontation with a taboo subject. And he frames his critique generously, stipulating that it isn't laziness that's destroying hillbilly culture but what the psychologist Martin Seligman calls "learned helplessness"—the fatalistic belief, born of too much adversity, that nothing can be done to change your lot.
Jennifer Senior - New York Times


[Vance’s] description of the culture he grew up in is essential reading for this moment in history.
David Brooks - New York Times


[Hillbilly Elegy] is a beautiful memoir but it is equally a work of cultural criticism about white working-class America….[Vance] offers a compelling explanation for why it’s so hard for someone who grew up the way he did to make it…a riveting book.
Wall Street Journal


[A] frank, unsentimental, harrowing memoir...a superb book.
New York Post


Vance isn’t a hillbilly at all. I ordered Vance’s book in the hope that his story would be a frank look at the lives of the less fortunate people around me who face the struggles of the hillbilly culture and Appalachian economy daily. But Vance’s story is one about how his grandparents’ sacrifices made it possible for him to be where he is today. That makes his critique of the hillbilly culture in crisis ring empty.
Brandon Kiser - Lexington Herald-Leader


[Hillbilly Elegy] couldn’t have been better timed...a harrowing portrait of much that has gone wrong in America over the past two generations...an honest look at the dysfunction that afflicts too many working-class Americans.
National Review


[A]n American classic, an extraordinary testimony to the brokenness of the white working class, but also its strengths. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read… [T]he most important book of 2016. You cannot understand what’s happening now without first reading J.D. Vance.
Rod Dreher - American Conservative


J.D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, offers a starkly honest look at what that shattering of faith feels like for a family who lived through it. You will not read a more important book about America this year.
Economist


The troubles of the working poor are well known to policymakers, but Vance offers an insider’s view of the problem.
Christianity Today


In this compelling hybrid of memoir and sociological analysis, Vance....observes that hillbillies like himself are helped not by government policy but by community that empowers them and extended family who encourages them to take control of their own destinies. Vance's dynamic memoir takes a serious look at class.
Publishers Weekly


Vance compellingly describes the terrible toll that alcoholism, drug abuse, and an unrelenting code of honor took on his family, neither excusing the behavior nor condemning it…The portrait that emerges is a complex one…. Unerringly forthright, remarkably insightful, and refreshingly focused, Hillbilly Elegy is the cry of a community in crisis.
Booklist


Growing up in Appalachia may leave a person open to harsh criticism and stereotype, yet Vance delves into his childhood and upbringing to make a clear distinction between perception and reality.... A quick and engaging read. —Kaitlin Malixi, formerly at Virginia Beach P.L.
Library Journal


(Starred review.) A Yale Law School graduate's account of his traumatic hillbilly childhood and the plight of America's angry white working class. "Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks, or white trash," writes Vance, a biotech executive and National Review contributor. "I call them neighbors, friends, and family."... An unusually timely and deeply affecting view of a social class whose health and economic problems are making headlines in this election year.
Kirkus Reviews

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