Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class

20 March @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

In this vivid coming-of-age memoir, Rob Henderson recounts growing up in foster care, enlisting in the US Air Force, attending elite universities – and what he learnt from seeing life from both sides of the tracks.

Rob Henderson was born to a drug-addicted mother and a father he never met, ultimately shuttling between ten different foster homes in California. When he was adopted into a loving family, he hoped that life would finally be stable and safe. He was wrong: tragedy, poverty and violence marked his adolescent years. An unflinching portrait of shattered families, desperation, and determination, Troubled recounts how Henderson eventually managed to find an escape route through the military, which led to an academic career at Yale and Cambridge.

As he reflects on the fate of many of his friends – drugs, death, prison – Henderson never escapes the feeling of being on the outside looking in, or a sense that his academic achievements are hollow compared to the love and protection that comes from stable family life. He dissects the hypocrisies of contemporary social class and shows how the most privileged among us benefit from a set of ‘luxury beliefs’ that actively harm the most vulnerable.

The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to a conversation between the Troubled author Rob Henderson and Director of Research at HJS Marc Sidwell about the ideas contained within the book. Signed copies will be on sale after the event.


(c) Carmen Hui Jing Lim


Rob Henderson is the author of Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class. Once described as “self-made” by the New York Times, he grew up in foster homes in California, served in the US Air Force, and received a BS from Yale and a PhD in psychology from the University of Cambridge, where he studied as a Gates Cambridge scholar. In addition to his popular Substack newsletter, Rob’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Globe, among other outlets.



Marc Sidwell is Director of Research at The Henry Jackson Society. He has worked as a senior editor for the Telegraph and City A.M. and as publisher for the New Statesman. Marc has also written regularly for publications including Telegraph, The Critic, National Review and City A.M. He is a Senior Fellow at the New Culture Forum, and a graduate of Oxford and Warwick.





HJS was delighted to have hosted Rob Henderson at the Henry Jackson Society for a discussion on his compelling memoir, “Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class”. Henderson shared his remarkable journey from family dysfunction and foster care to achieving high academia, underpinning his narrative with the innovative concept of luxury beliefs. This memoir not only chronicles his personal experiences but also critiques societal attitudes at the apex of our social structure that inadvertently fail the less fortunate.

Henderson delved into the significance of stability and security in a family structure, highlighting how fluctuations in his own academic performance were tied to his home life’s stability. He reflected on his military service as a crucial period of structure and discipline that contrasted with his earlier life’s instability. Henderson’s observations on elite university environments revealed a stark disconnect between luxury beliefs advocated by the affluent and their impact on lower social classes. The discussion ventured into the political implications of promoting stable family structures and critiqued the contemporary academic and intellectual landscape for being ensnared in luxury beliefs, thus neglecting practical and evidence-based discourse. This event illuminated Henderson’s journey and insights, offering a profound critique of societal and academic norms that overlook the foundational values of stability, hard work, and community.

You can watch this event Online or you can register your interest via the form below to watch this event In-Person:


20 March
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, England, SW1P 4QP
21-24 Millbank
Westminster, SW1P 4QP United Kingdom
+ Google Map


Rob Henderson, Marc Sidwell


Linking Forces: A Step towards Future-Russia?

15 July @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, there have been efforts by the Russian diaspora to develop a plan for a future-Russia after Putin. While there have been meetings to discuss ideas … Continued



Lost your password?

Not a member? Please click here