THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER IS NOW A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD AND STARRING AMY ADAMS, GLENN CLOSE, AND GABRIEL BASSO "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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Westerners love an existential crisis. Each decade since the First World War has raised up prophets of doom proclaiming the end of the Western world as we know it. But this time it's real. Weighed down by economic woes, the seemingly endless war on terror, and the declining power of religion as a unifying force, the West has been limping along. With the public sphere fraying and authoritarian politics rising, this deep-seated crisis is now urgent, and potentially fatal. How did we get here? Ben Ryan's diagnosis is simple: the West is a myth, and it is dying. Its own people are no longer convinced or united by its defining ideal--a sense of universal morals, and of constant progress towards them. Following a series of 'system failures', Westerners--from urban millennials to post-industrial workers-- have lost faith in the West as a moral force. Yet there is a chance for redemption, if we can forge a new common myth of the West: one reviving its great values, and reshaping its ideals for a diverse, forward-looking world. This smart and thoughtful book explores what the West is, what has happened to it, and how we might save it.
Representations of southern poor whites have long shifted between romanticization and demonization. At worst, poor southern whites are aligned with racism, bigotry, and right-wing extremism, and, at best, regarded as the passive victims of wider, socioeconomic policies. In Poverty Politics: Poor Whites in Contemporary Southern Writing, author Sarah Robertson pushes beyond these stereotypes and explores the impact of neoliberalism and welfare reform on depictions of poverty. Robertson examines representations of southern poor whites across various types of literature, including travel writing, photo-narratives, life-writing, and eco-literature, and reveals a common interest in communitarianism that crosses the boundaries of the US South and regionalism, moving past ideas about the culture of poverty to examine the economics of poverty. Included are critical examinations of the writings of southern writers such as Dorothy Allison, Rick Bragg, Barbara Kingsolver, Tim McLaurin, Toni Morrison, and Ann Pancake. Poverty Politics includes critical engagement with identity politics as well as reflections on issues including Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 financial crisis, and mountaintop removal. Robertson interrogates the presumed opposition between the Global North and the Global South and engages with microregions through case studies on Appalachian photo-narratives and eco-literature. Importantly, she focuses not merely on representations of southern poor whites, but also on writing that calls for alternative ways of reconceptualizing not just the poor, but societal measures of time, value, and worth.
“Timely . . . [the collection] paints intimate portraits of neglected places that are often used as political talking points. A good companion piece to J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy.”—Booklist The essays in Voices from the Rust Belt "address segregated schools, rural childhoods, suburban ennui, lead poisoning, opiate addiction, and job loss. They reflect upon happy childhoods, successful community ventures, warm refuges for outsiders, and hidden oases of natural beauty. But mainly they are stories drawn from uniquely personal experiences: A girl has her bike stolen. A social worker in Pittsburgh makes calls on clients. A journalist from Buffalo moves away, and misses home.... A father gives his daughter a bath in the lead-contaminated water of Flint, Michigan" (from the introduction). Where is America's Rust Belt? It's not quite a geographic region but a linguistic one, first introduced as a concept in 1984 by Walter Mondale. In the modern vernacular, it's closely associated with the "Post-Industrial Midwest," and includes Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, and New York. The region reflects the country's manufacturing center, which, over the past forty years, has been in decline. In the 2016 election, the Rust Belt's economic woes became a political talking point, and helped pave the way for a Donald Trump victory. But the region is neither monolithic nor easily understood. The truth is much more nuanced. Voices from the Rust Belt pulls together a distinct variety of voices from people who call the region home. Voices that emerge from familiar Rust Belt cities—Detroit, Cleveland, Flint, and Buffalo, among other places—and observe, with grace and sensitivity, the changing economic and cultural realities for generations of Americans.
Across the world, we see an explosion of unpredictable violence committed by alienated young men. Jamil Jivani recounts his experiences working as a youth activist throughout North America and the Middle East, drawing striking parallels between ISIS recruits, gangbangers, and Neo-Nazis in the West. Having narrowly escaped a descent into crime and gang violence in his native Toronto, Jivani has devoted his life to helping other at-risk youths avoid this fate in cities across North America. After the Paris terrorist attacks of 2016, he traveled to Europe and the Middle East to assist Muslim community outreach groups focused on deterring ISIS recruitment. Why Young Men is the story of Jivani’s education as an activist on the front lines of one of today’s most dangerous and intractable problems: the explosion of violence among angry young men throughout the world. Jivani relates his personal story and describes his entrance into the community outreach movement, his work with disenfranchised people of color in North America and at-risk youth in the Middle East and Africa, and his experiences with the white working class. The reader learns along with him as he profiles a diverse array of young men and interviews those who are trying to help them, drawing parallels between these groups, refuting the popular belief that they are radically different from each other, and offering concrete steps toward countering this global trend.