#1 New York Times Bestseller, named by the Times as one of the "6 books to help understand Trump's win"
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful 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
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisisthat of white working-class Americans. 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, 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 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. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their 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.
The issues at stake for Vance are not overtly political, but personal. He counts his blessings for the advantages he did have and expresses concern for the plight of those who grow up with even less. He fully admits that "no single book, or expert, or field could fully explain the problems of hillbillies in modern America," but this is an excellent place to start for those willing to put aside their prejudices and really listen.
(Reviewed by Lisa Butts).
"Brain Drain," aka "Human Capital Flight" refers to the exodus of educated, professional adults from locations that fail to provide them with the means of achieving success and fulfillment. As a consequence, the communities these individuals leave behind often suffer economic and cultural stagnation. The phrase's origin lies in the emigration of scientists and other intellectuals to America after World War II seeking better employment opportunities. Brain drain is of particular concern in many Rust Belt cities and communities where manufacturing plants have cut back production or shut down entirely, causing the areas' ambitious youth to flee for greener pastures.
J.D. Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, notes his own migration from ...
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