Mobility and Nobility

Dalrymple appears in the new Claremont Review of Books reviewing Hillbilly Elegy and also White Trash by Nancy Isenberg. This is notable because the former was certainly the book of the year in the US, and its narrative is largely an American version of Dalrymple’s tales of moral ignorance and dysfunction in the English underclass. Thus the review offers him the opportunity to apply the same analysis to a segment of American culture that he famously applied to an English one, and he does:

The world in which [Hillbilly Elegy author J.D.] Vance grew up was one in which the avoidance of shame played the part of morality, which meant that relations between people were largely those of tribal loyalty and power. Consequently, restraint and common decency were taken as signs of weakness. He could easily have been sucked wholly into this gang-like society, and if he had been, his intelligence would have made him a dangerous man, with quite likely a life sentence in front of him. The devil makes work for idle intelligence to do.

I highly recommend not only the review, but Hillbilly Elegy itself as a poignant depiction of a culture that your Skeptical bloggers understand very well from personal experience.

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