Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy

Book Review by Kam Williams

Hillbilly Elegy
A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
by J.D. Vance
Hardcover, $27.99
272 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-230054-6

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis--that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never been written about as searingly from the inside...
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America's white working class through the author's own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town... [this] deeply moving memoir... is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country."
-- Excerpted from the Bookjacket

Anybody interested in understanding the mindset of the typical Trump supporter ought to check out this timely opus. After all, this terribly-divided country's doomed if most of the President's 63 million votes really came from racist white supremacists. 

Written by J.D, Vance, an Ivy League-educated attorney who grew up dirt poor in the Rust Belt, Hillbilly Elegy is an overcoming-the-odds autobiography that endeavors to paint an empathetic picture of the plight of poor white trash in present-day America. Trouble is, that demographic has been growing exponentially, due to Washington, DC's focus on Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.

At 31, the author might strike some as a little young to be publishing his memoirs. But he more than makes up for his lack of life experience with the richness of his insights when it comes to his kinfolk. 
For, while it's been easy for coastal elites to dismiss Middle Americans as misguided bigots, Vance argues that he the neglected dirt poor have been allowed to slip through the cracks for several decades. Between outsourcing and downsizing, decent jobs disappeared, leaving behind an angry demographic with diminished dreams for the future. 
It's a miracle that J.D. somehow managed to flourish in the midst of a dysfunctional culture marked by broken families, unemployment, substance abuse and low expectations. He is lucky to have been raised by a tough-as-nails grandmother who warned him, "Never be like these [bleeping] losers who think the deck is stacked against them. You can do anything you want to."

A working-class hero President Trump ought to bring into his Administration to show he's truly interested in uniting the nation.

To order a copy of Hillbilly Elegy, visit:

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