Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

Audiobook CD - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class.
Publisher: [New York] :, Harper Audio,, [2016]
Edition: Unabridged.
Copyright Date: ℗2016
ISBN: 9780062570109
Branch Call Number: 305.562092 Vance
Characteristics: 6 sound discs (6 3/4 hr.) : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in.
audio file,CD audio,rda


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 01, 2019

The one thing that really struck me about this book was how much the stories and accounts shared by JD Vance (a "hillbilly" American) sounded like stories you'd expect from immigrant communities and people living in the developing world. I guess that shows how much we don't know about what's going on in most American cities, and the poverty and struggle white working-class people face.

The book was overall very good, though it did get a bit slow in the middle. I listened to the audiobook and am glad I did because if I had to read some of the slower sections, I may have lost interest in finishing the book. The book is basically a very personal account of the author's experiences and his insights about the lack of upward mobility in struggling American communities. One thing that was off for me in the book was a lack of emotional investment in the people the author talks about. I don't think this is a fault of the author or the way the book is written. I just didn't know JD Vance and couldn't get very emotionally tied to his story since I knew absolutely nothing about him prior to reading his memoir.

I would encourage people to read this book because it has some very poignant insights about identity and how childhood experiences and situations outside our control shape us into who we are. It's also a somewhat humanizing account of the people we commonly refer to as "white trash" or "trailer trash". I think JD Vance is doing a service for his community by bringing to light the problems they face, though not all the issues are because of outside circumstances. I would have liked for him to talk more about the negative impacts of religion and the role it's playing in keeping a lot of people ignorant in these parts of the country (he touches upon it now and then, but not in much detail). Hillbilly culture in itself is very flawed, with deep-seated sexism, patriarchy, honor focus and overall lack of educational drive that many people continue to perpetuate.

JD Vance does a good job of providing a balanced and unbiased (as unbiased as one can be) account of what's going on in middle America. This book will help people see what much of society in the richest country in the world actually lives like, which is not an easy thing to do

Apr 11, 2019

DID FOR BOOK CLUB - some liked more than others. Not my favorite

Mar 09, 2019

Fascinating in a train wreck kind of way, but also humorous in Vance’s self examination and cultural observations. His Elegy is more than simply about Hillbillies, it is about our national identity in many ways. Only 6 hours long, well read in Vance’s voice, I am thankful to have given time to it and would encourage you to do so.

Jan 09, 2018

I enjoyed the book as a memoir of his hillbilly/white trash extended family. I found it interesting/entertaining and joyful that these people don’t live near me.
The author’s reading of his book is excellent, but do wonder if there are photos in the hardback book.

JCLHopeH Jan 06, 2018

Vance is an excellent reader for this audiobook of his own memoir, which is already a well-written piece of personal reflection against a backdrop of sociology. It's given me plenty to contemplate for a pretty quick read.

Oct 17, 2017

Like another reviewer, I didn't find any new answers to the perceived current political and cultural crisis as the promotion of this book often promised. I instead found a healthy introspection of Vance's family, its behaviors, and culture of abuse that hit very close to home and often times mirrored aspects of my own family.

Sep 24, 2017

An eye opener for me about hillbillies and how they live, live and survive between Kentucky and Ohio. The life of his and how he grew up was hard but made him the person he is today and that can be said of all of us. He was so lucky to have grandparents to help him through, just like me. I enjoyed the recounts of his life very much and it showed how you make of your life what you want and how each person is affected differently by things that happen to them. I Enjoyed this book.

Aug 22, 2017

For those not familiar with rural life, this books tells what it is like to grow up poor. And for those who did grow up poor, it really hits home. I listened to it on audio book, and it was on point. It really tells how life is for a certain segment of the population. Highly recommended.

slawr084 Apr 14, 2017

I have an affinity for non-fiction that's deliciously riddled with cuss words, and Hillbilly Elegy doesn't disappoint!

Apr 10, 2017

The author tells the story of his upbringing in eastern Kentucky and later Ohio within a family with colorful characters, violent culture, and finely honed sense of honor but with little connections with aspiring upward mobile middle class America. The author manages to raise above the expectations for his family and culture by enlisting in the Marines, graduating from Ohio State, and getting a law degree from Yale. The book resonated with me to some extent: I was born & raised in rural east Tennessee, enlisted in the Marines out of high school, and received a graduate college degree. This back ground lets me appreciate the dissonance of outlook and culture differences between the working class and Ivy league elites of America. The aspect of the book where the author is tenuous ground the impulse to generalize from his specific experience and background. A number of times, he asserts that his neighbors and friends have similar experiences. Even so, it is questionable to extrapolate from this experience to large portions of the populace. Regardless, this story is compelling and well written.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Oct 17, 2017

chrstphrbrwn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add Notices
Oct 17, 2017

Coarse Language: Lots of swearing, but always in context of the larger argument presented by author.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top