Our January Book of the Month is J.D. Vance’s #1 New York Times Bestseller, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Vance, a former marine and Yale Law graduate, chronicles the struggles of the white working class from the lens of his family’s rust belt and Appalachian roots, in what David Brooks calls, “…essential reading for this moment in history.”
The publication of J.D. Vance’s memoir could not have been more timely. In his account of growing up in a so-called hillbilly family, Vance offers a deeply personal, loving but clear-eyed view of his people, poor whites of Scots-Irish descent, endangered not only by economic forces beyond their control, but by their own fierce insularity and resistance to outside influences…Vance also gives us indelible portraits of family members: a mother struggling with addiction, an absent father’s strict adherence to conservative Christianity, and, most movingly, of his grandmother, known as “Mamaw,” an awesome, gun-owning matriarch who provided the only real stability he knew. Hillbilly Elegy is an engrossing, readable memoir, as well as a necessary perspective on the failure of the promise of American prosperity.
– Ann T., Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington D.C.
Listen to a preview of Hillbilly Elegy.
Watch J.D. Vance’s Ted Talk on “America’s Forgotten Working Class.”
Further Watching and Reading
Watch J.D. Vance’s interview on Charlie Rose.
Read Alec MacGillis’s, “The Original Underclass,” from The Atlantic, which discusses Hillbilly Elegy in contrast to other books—both contemporary and historical—that explore similar themes.
Read Oliver Lee Bateman’s, “Being a Bumpkin: Untangling White-Trash Identity,” from The Paris Review, which further contextualizes the discussion surrounding Vance’s memoir.
Join readers and listeners all month on social media to discuss Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Use the hashtag #hillbillyelegy and find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.