Alexander R. Thomas is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York College at Oneonta.
This edition features new coverage of important recent developments affecting urban life, including the implications of racial conflict in Ferguson, Missouri , and elsewhere, recent presidential urban strategies, the new waves of European refugees, the long-term impacts of the Great Recession as seen through the lens of Detroit’s bankruptcy, new and emerging inequalities, and an extended look into Sampson’s Great American City.
Beyond examining the dynamics that shape the form and functionality of cities, the text surveys the experience of urban life among different social groups, including immigrants, African Americans,women, and members of different social classes. It illuminates the workings of the urban economy, local and federal governments, and the criminal justice system, and also addresses policy debates and decisions that affect almost every aspect of urbanization and urban life.
"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist
"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal
"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported 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 one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his 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.