You Owe Yourself a Drunk: An Ethnography of Urban Nomads

Waveland Press
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While You Owe Yourself a Drunk was far from the first anthropological study of a non-native population in North America, its appearance marked an early stage in an increasingly evident shift toward bringing anthropology home. Now available from Waveland Press, Spradleys carefully researched portrayal of skid row men in Seattle in the late sixties documents their treatment by jails and the legal system in a time before homelessness became a recognized problem. As a result of Spradleys elegant and impassioned writing, the book became a sharp challenge to politicians, policymakers, judges, police, and others inclined to punish people for the crime of poverty. The insights he gained from studying the tramp culture of Seattle ultimately were seen as highly significant in the treatment of recidivist alcoholics as well as in creating a more appropriate and human response to public drunkenness. This now-classic landmark study in urban ethnography stands as a shining example of the direct application of distinctly anthropological concepts and methods to address real-world problems. But more important, it represents a poignant challenge to society about our capacity to endure and accept nonconformity and social diversity. The Waveland reissue includes a valuable retrospective introduction by Merrill Singer.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Waveland Press
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Published on
Nov 6, 1999
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Pages
301
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ISBN
9781478610366
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Methodology
Social Science / Poverty & Homelessness
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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"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.

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