J. D. Vance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

J. D. Vance
J. D. Vance (37629711710) (cropped).jpg
Vance in 2017
James Donald Bowman

(1984-08-02) August 2, 1984 (age 36)
EducationOhio State University (BA)
Yale University (JD)
OccupationVenture capitalist, author, commentator
Known forCommentary on rural sociology, poverty, Hillbilly culture
Notable work
Hillbilly Elegy
Political partyRepublican[1]
Spouse(s)Usha Chilukuri
(m. 2014)

James David Vance (born James Donald Bowman;[2] August 2, 1984) is an American author and venture capitalist.[1] He is best known for his memoir Hillbilly Elegy, about Appalachian values and their relation to the social problems of his hometown, which attracted significant media attention during the 2016 election as a window into the white working class,[3][4] with the New York Times calling it "one of the six best books to help understand Trump’s win".[5]

Early life and education[edit]

James David Vance was born on August 2, 1984, in Middletown, Ohio, as James Donald Bowman, the son of Donald Bowman and Bev Vance. Vance's only sister, Lindsay, had been born when his mother was 19 years old. His mother and father divorced when Vance was a toddler. Not long after, Vance was adopted by his mother's third husband.[2] Vance and his sister were raised primarily by his grandparents.[6][7][8]

Vance was educated at Middletown High School,[9] a public high school in his home town. After graduating, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps[10] and served in Iraq, performing public affairs activities.[11] Vance later graduated summa cum laude from the Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and philosophy.[12][13] At Ohio State, he worked for Republican state senator Bob Schuler.[14]

After graduating from Ohio State, Vance received a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School. During his first year at Yale Law, his mentor and professor Amy Chua convinced him to write his memoir.[15]


After a stint at a corporate law firm, J.D. moved to San Francisco to work in the technology industry. He serves as a principal at Peter Thiel's venture capital firm, Mithril Capital.[16] As an investor, Vance took a special interest in biotechnology and other transformative sectors of the economy.

He published Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis in 2016. It was on The New York Times Best Seller list in 2016 and 2017. It was a finalist for the 2017 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.[17] The New York Times called it "one of the six best books to help understand Trump’s win".[5] The Washington Post called him the "voice of the Rust Belt"[1] and The New Republic criticized him as "liberal media's favorite white trash–splainer" and the "false prophet of blue America".[18]

In December 2016, Vance indicated that he planned to move to Ohio to start a nonprofit, potentially run for office,[19] and work on combating drug addiction in the Rust Belt.[1] The nonprofit is called Our Ohio Renewal.[20]

In 2017, he joined Revolution LLC, an investment firm founded by AOL cofounder Steve Case, as an investment partner, where he was tasked with expanding the "Rise of the Rest" initiative, which focuses on growing investments in under-served regions outside the Silicon Valley and New York City tech bubbles.[21]

In 2019, he co-founded Narya Capital in Cincinnati, Ohio, with financial backing from Peter Thiel, Eric Schmidt, and Marc Andreessen.[22] In 2020, Vance raised $93 million for Narya Capital.[23]

In January 2017, Vance became a CNN contributor.[24] In April 2017, Ron Howard signed on to direct a film version of Hillbilly Elegy, which was released by Netflix in 2020, and starred Owen Asztalos and Gabriel Basso as Vance.[25] He has appeared on ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and Fox News, among other media outlets.[12]


In early 2018, Vance was reported to have been considering a bid for U.S. Senate as a Republican.[26]

Vance is a Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute researching American society and culture, and the social impact of economic policy.[12]

Peter Thiel has given $10 million to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC created in February 2021 to support Vance in running for the 2022 U.S. Senate election in Ohio.[27][28][29] Robert Mercer also donated an undisclosed amount.[27]

In August 2019, Vance converted to Catholicism in Cincinnati, Ohio,[30] in a baptism ceremony attended by various conservatives, including Rod Dreher. In an interview with Dreher after the ceremony, Vance said he converted because he "became persuaded over time that Catholicism was true", and described Catholic doctrine's influence on his political views.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Vance is married to one of his former law school classmates, Usha Chilukuri, an Indian-American woman who was a law clerk to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts during the 2017–18 term and clerked for then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2014–15.[32] They have two sons, including Ewan.[33]


  • Vance, J. D. (June 2016). Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Harper Press. ISBN 9780062300546.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Heller, Karen. "'Hillbilly Elegy' made J.D. Vance the voice of the Rust Belt. But does he want that job?". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis". Enotes.com. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  3. ^ Rothman, Joshua. "The Lives of Poor White People". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  4. ^ Senior, Jennifer. "Review: In 'Hillbilly Elegy,' a Tough Love Analysis of the Poor Who Back Trump". The New York Times. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "6 Books to Help Understand Trump's Win". New York Times. November 9, 2016. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  6. ^ "Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance review – does this memoir really explain Trump's victory?". The Guardian. December 7, 2016.
  7. ^ "The Lives of Poor White People". The New Yorker. September 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "'Hillbilly Elegy' Recalls A Childhood Where Poverty Was 'The Family Tradition'". NPR. August 17, 2016.
  9. ^ Michael D. Clark (March 10, 2017). "Middletown native J.D. Vance's book started with simple question". JournalNews.com. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  10. ^ "Former Marine J.D. Vance's 'Hillbilly Elegy' Will Be Made into a Movie". Military.com. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  11. ^ Vance, J. D. "J.D. Vance | Speaker | TED". www.ted.com.
  12. ^ a b c "J. D. Vance, Visiting Fellow". aei.org. American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  13. ^ "J.D. Vance to Speak About Memoir Hillbilly Elegy Feb. 2". Yale Law School. January 27, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  14. ^ Vance, J. D. (2017). Hillbilly Elegy. London, U.K.: William Collins. p. 181. ISBN 9780008220563. OCLC 965479512. I took a job at the Ohio Statehouse, working for a remarkably kind senator from the Cincinnati area named Bob Schuler. He was a good man, and I liked his politics, so when constituents called and complained, I tried to explain his positions.
  15. ^ "How the 'Tiger Mom' Convinced the Author of Hillbilly Elegy to Write His Story". The Atlantic. June 7, 2016.
  16. ^ Sarah McBride (January 20, 2017). "Peter Thiel's Mithril Capital Raises $850 Million VC Fund". Bloomberg Technology. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  17. ^ Dayton Literary Peace Prize. http://www.daytonliterarypeaceprize.org/
  18. ^ Jones, Sarah (November 17, 2016). "J.D. Vance, the False Prophet of Blue America". The New Republic. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  19. ^ Hohmann, James. "The Daily 202: Why the author of 'Hillbilly Elegy' is moving home to Ohio". The Washington Post.
  20. ^ Our Ohio Renewal http://ourohiorenewal.com/
  21. ^ Heater, Brian (March 22, 2017). "'Hillbilly Elegy' author J.D. Vance joins Revolution LLC to promote startups outside of Silicon Valley". TechCrunch. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  22. ^ Vermillion, Stephanie (February 16, 2020). "J.D. Vance's New Cincinnati-based VC Firm Excites Local Startup Leaders". Cincy Inno. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  23. ^ Loizos, Connie (January 9, 2019). "'Hillbilly Elegy' author J.D. Vance has raised $93 million for his own Midwestern venture fund". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  24. ^ A. J. Katz (January 17, 2017). "CNN Strengthens its Roster of Commentators and Contributors". AdWeek.com. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  25. ^ Reed, Ryan. "Ron Howard to Direct, Produce 'Hillbilly Elegy' Movie". RollingStone. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  26. ^ Gomez, Henry. "J.D. Vance Is Now Seriously Considering Running For Senate In Ohio". Buzzfeed. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  27. ^ a b Kinery, Emma (March 15, 2021). "Peter Thiel, Mercers Back a Potential J.D. Vance Senate Run". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  28. ^ Mathis-Lilley, Ben (March 18, 2021). "J.D. Vance's Potential Senate Campaign Is Shaping Up as a Vicious Assault on People Like J.D. Vance". Slate. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  29. ^ Balmert, Jessie. "Super PAC supporting potential Senate candidate J.D. Vance gets $10 million donation from PayPal cofounder".
  30. ^ Dreher, Rod (August 11, 2019). "J.D. Vance Becomes Catholic". The American Conservative. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  31. ^ "Rod Dreher Archive". The American Conservative.
  32. ^ "Usha C. Vance". www.mto.com. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  33. ^ Ferenchik, Mark (July 31, 2017), J.D. Vance draws crowds, and questions about political future, The Columbus Dispatch

External links[edit]