Review of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
In some ways, this memoir is a cautionary tale. Some might say that it is prescient in the way it accurately portrayed today’s political climate. I would recommend it to anyone who believes that the problems facing America were the fault of the current administration and everything is going to be better now with new people in charge. When a politician comes to a coal town and promises to bring back jobs, he’s blowing smoke up you know where. Those jobs are gone, having been replaced by newer technology. Same is true with many of the high-paying manufacturing jobs. Everyone wants high wages while also wanting low prices. You can’t have both.
If there is one takeaway from this book that anyone can benefit from, it is the lesson that success has more to do with the networking and personal relationships that you form rather than your knowledge and experience. It’s a lesson I learned late in life.
If you want to get a fuller picture of what is happening across this country, I recommend the following books: American Pain by John Temple ( a book about the opium epidemic), Evicted by Matthew Desmond (a look at housing affordability), and Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson (a look at the broken criminal justice system). Hillbilly Elegy touches on all of these issues from the viewpoint of the author.
Don’t count on politicians to fix your problems. Your individual choices are what matter.