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264 pages, Hardcover
First published June 28, 2016
There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day.
Here is where the rhetoric of modern conservatives (and I say this as one of them) fails to meet the real challenges of their biggest constituents. Instead of encouraging engagement, conservatives increasingly foment the kind of detachment that has sapped the ambition of so many of my peers...What separates the successful from the unsuccessful are the expectations that they had for their own lives. Yet the message of the right is increasingly: It’s not your fault that you’re a loser; it’s the government’s fault.
What separates the successful from the unsuccessful are the expectations that they had for their own lives.J.D. Vance, an ex-marine, a Yale law school graduate and self-proclaimed hillbilly, provides an absolutely unique, heart-wrenching and poignant analysis of his culture - the poor white working class.
If you believe that hard work pays off, then you work hard; if you think it’s hard to get ahead even when you try, then why try at all?J.D. Vance's family originated from the Appalachia region in Kentucky but he spent most of his childhood in Ohio. And while he felt the all-consuming love from his grandparents, he also suffered through a tumultuous childhood, unstable mother and unending poverty.
Psychologists call it “learned helplessness” when a person believes, as I did during my youth, that the choices I made had no effect on the outcomes in my life.And yet, he managed to pull himself out of the dregs and live a relatively normal life. So, what made him unique? What events occurred to ensure that his life was different? What kept him from being a statistic?
I don't know what the answer is, precisely, but I know it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.This book was enthralling - I was thoroughly hooked from start to finish. Definitely one to check out!