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
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.

BostonPL_LauraB Jan 30, 2017

For people who have never lived in a rural area, or frankly anywhere other than a coast (the coastal elite), this memoir will be shocking to you and possibly give you answers that you are seeking after the election (or at least that is what many reviews will have you believe). Because I went in thinking this was going to be some grand "tell-all" about why certain people voted the way they did in the last election, I ended up being a bit disappointed because of the expectations that I should not have had. When I threw those notions and expectations out the window, I read it for what it was - a memoir of an interesting family set in Ohio and Kentucky - a family different from my own, but not so foreign that I couldn't understand their actions and way of life.

Basically what I am saying is read this as a great memoir, and not as a case study of how the white lower-class acts and views our country. To get an understanding of that, do more research. Possibly read "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right" by Arlie Russell Hochschild - I've heard it's a broader, more academic perspective, but personally haven't read it myself yet.

One more note - I listened to the audio and the author narrates it! Love these types of audios as it makes memoirs (already personal) even more personal.

Jan 17, 2017

Like a majority of other people, I picked up this book because it was supposed to explain the Trump phenomenon. Not that I was particularly optimistic it would do that but I thought it would be a good view into a specific culture, one that tends to vote republican.

What I really got from this book is that my family has a whole lot of similarities to his and I think there is more in common amoung rural communities and people than we tend to think. The rural communities are where things stay the same, where conservative values are upheld and appreciated. These are the areas that get hit the hardest by economic downturns because they have so little to lose and no chance to get out when the going gets tough. Though obviously, that does happen because the authors family did their own immigration from the hills to the plains looking for a better lifestyle.

The author seems to have been very fortunate in his family, a mother who aided and abetted his love for reading, a grandfather with infinite patience for teaching math and a grandmother with a will to see him succeed, even if she had to raise him herself. Though, this same family was argumentative, destructive and they made his life difficult enough that he's trying to get over many things from his childhood.

It gave me a picture of a family, a life and a region. Different but also similar to my own. What it did not do is help me understand the politics, it just emphasized there are areas in America that are desperately poor and need serious help, and as per usual, there are no easy answers.

Oct 13, 2016

Although the author is only 32, he's lived through a lifetime of hardship in an Appalachian family that moves between Middletown, Ohio and Jackson, Kentucky. He shares the stories of his grandparents who moved north to find jobs during World War II. As the years move on, the jobs disappear and are replaced by poverty, drug use, and chaotic family life. Now a graduate of Yale University Law School, Vance unravels what it took to escape poverty -- stability in his grandmother's home, a few teachers who cared, the Marine Corps, and a few individuals who taught him the social skills needed to maneuver in upper-class America. He is quick to point out that the strands that make up poverty in America are complex and comprised of both cultural and individual strands. As his preface points out, "I've known many welfare queens and they are all white." I found this book gave me some insight into those who most ardently support Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

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