Author J.D. Vance On "Hillbilly Elegy" And A Culture In Crisis

Apr 21, 2017

Following one of the most divisive and contentious elections in history, it is easy to say that we are a nation in cultural crisis. But what does that actually mean? In the Rust Belt, as well as in rural Appalachia, it means factories closing and good jobs shipped overseas in less than a generation. It means an uptick in drug abuse and violence in the home, an erosion of the education system and trust in our government, and the disintegration of children’s dreams for a better future than that of their parents.

J.D. Vance, tells us in plain language what it was like to be raised in a family of proud, poor and loving-yet-broken hillbillies in his bestseller, “Hillbilly Elegy.” In his recollections of growing up in a home marred by substance abuse and poverty, he offers a glimpse of the dysfunction and trauma suffered by many children in our growing class of poor Americans. He also offers his personal reflections on why it is so hard to break that cycle.

Mr. Vance is a veteran who served with the Marines in Iraq, a graduate of Ohio State University and Yale Law School, a contributor to the National Review, and a principal at a leading Silicon Valley investment firm.

In March, Mr. Vance wrote an Op-Ed to the New York Times about his plans to return to Ohio and establish an organization to combat the state's opioid epidemic.