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Hillbilly Elegy Audiobook

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

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Publisher's Summary

From a former marine and Yale graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broad, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class.

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis - that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over 40 years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love" and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hope of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, his aunt, his uncle, his sister, and most of all his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humour and vividly colourful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of the country.

©2016 J. D. Vance (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

"The memoir gripping America.... Vividly articulates the despair and disillusionment of blue-collar America." (Sunday Times)
"Vance's description of the culture he grew up in is essential reading for this moment in history." (David Brooks, New York Times)
"A beautiful memoir but it is equally a work of cultural criticism about white working-class America.... [Vance] offers a compelling explanation for why it's so hard for someone who grew up the way he did to make it...a riveting book." (Wall Street Journal)
"Quietly thoughtful, poignant...while the political timeliness of Hillbilly Elegy is undeniable, Vance truly shines when he takes us with him 'down the holler' into an America we thought we knew - until we realized how little of it we truly understood." (Huffington Post)
"Looking back on his youth, and all he fled, yields a frank, unsentimental, harrowing memoir, Hillbilly Elegy. It's a superb book given an extra layer of importance by its political reverberations: When Vance returns home these days, he sees yard after yard festooned with Trump signs." (NY Post)
"You will not read a more important book about America this year." (Economist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (137 )
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4.4 (126 )
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    AndrewH 28/06/2017
    AndrewH 28/06/2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An excellent read"

    For a young man you did extremely well JD Vance. I'm in my 70's and can relate to your memoirs. Your narration is excellent. There is a lot to learn from your story and the way you value the role of each individual who make up that story. Thank you.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heyjools187 Perth Western Australia 18/12/2016
    Heyjools187 Perth Western Australia 18/12/2016 Member Since 2017
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    "window view"

    I enjoyed this book. It was an interesting and in ways quite a disturbing read about the inequality endured on a daily basis.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James 07/10/2016
    James 07/10/2016 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing story about overcoming the odds"

    Really enjoyed this unique and personal account of a much wider problem in American society. I could relate to JD Vance's story in many ways, despite being a non-American. The audiobook was read very well by the author.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Belinda Fagan Geneva, Switzerand 10/10/2017
    Belinda Fagan Geneva, Switzerand 10/10/2017 Member Since 2015
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    "Puts it all in perspective"

    Have not read a better book in years. Not bittersweet, just raw truth. Thank you Mr Vance

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Neutral Bay, Australia 24/09/2017
    Robert Neutral Bay, Australia 24/09/2017 Member Since 2015
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    4
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    Story
    "Excellent. Insightful and informative."

    JD Vance has written a work that allows a view of a social group from the eyes of an insider, at the same time allowing the reader to share in his personal growth. I am an Australian and I can relate his views, of the challenges faced by those excluded, to several groups of our own society; one supposedly more inclusive than that of 'the greatest nation on Earth's. Thank you for your story and insights. I feel a better and more informed member of society for the knowledge.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirsty 20/09/2017
    Kirsty 20/09/2017 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    19
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    "Honest (I hope), raw and oassionate"

    Apart from taking major exception to his view that the US is the greatest country on earth, I enjoyed hearing about one man's very personal struggle against the hand dealt him through accident of birth, and his ability to make a life beyond bad teeth, poor diet, failed relationships and unemployment.
    His views on welfare are contentious but understandable, like when he dislikes that his taxes are allowing the person receiving welfare to buy the steak he can't afford. He doesn't seem to reflect that in parallel, the vastly reduced fees he paid for Yale Law because of low parental income would have been unavailable to a person whose parents earned a bit more, enough to make their child ineligible to receive the subsidy, but not enough to afford to pay the high tuition fees.
    He writes that he has come to terms with his relatives, both the ones who nurtured him and the ones who failed him in the worst possible way. The breakdown of family life through generations is truly appalling.
    I look forward to hearing in the future what steps he is taking to help fix the community he so obviously values but which is so obviously broken.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacob Brisbane 03/09/2017
    Jacob Brisbane 03/09/2017
    RATINGS
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    10
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    Story
    "Struggling with the american dream"

    heartwarming story of a family moving up in current USA society. it's not easy, but if you work hard, it's paying off.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 16/04/2017 Member Since 2017
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    1
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    Story
    "Revelation"

    For those outside of the USA, this book offers an insightful explanation for the previously unfathomable reason for Trumps eventual political success.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phill Russell 02/04/2017
    Phill Russell 02/04/2017 Member Since 2016
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    8
    4
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    "Incredible book,"

    Powerfully moving account of the struggle of social mobility in America, a fascinating, challenging read

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth 08/03/2017
    Ruth 08/03/2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Overrated"

    The entire premise of this book seems to be that the American dream has failed, yet if this overhyped and largely boring book of one hillbilly's rise from redneck to Yale can make the New York Times' bestseller list and be heralded as an explanation for Trump's popularity, then the American dream is truly alive and well. Indeed, anyone or any book can make it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Greg D. Joffe
    14/10/17
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    Performance
    Story
    "Fabulous mix of autobiography and social analysis read by the author"

    I always enjoy autobiographies read by the author and this was an exceptionally good one. Amazing life story surviving incredible poverty and family challenges but also some robust thinking and analysis about what makes a difference and how things work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pieter Reyneke
    Donghae City, Gangwon-Do, KR
    21/06/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful book."

    This book gave me a better understanding and I g of my own life and failures. It is more a self help kind of book as one of literary significance. Well written and it answers so many of the questions to socio-economic problems we are trying to solve.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anonymous
    7/06/17
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    Story
    "Great book, insightful and well written."

    an inspiring story, personal and honest. Lessons we all can learn from and be inspired by.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nyaribo
    1/06/17
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    Performance
    Story
    "The strangely familiar reality of the American dream"

    If your like me and your searching for answers about today's world and how to succeed , then J.D Vance takes you closer to the door step of your enlightenment and freedom.

    The book is a memoir of an American white man that is rarely shared that transcends race and unites the poor/working class and their struggle for upward social mobility that is strangely familiar.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Miss
    Dartford, United Kingdom
    15/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "SUPERB, insightful and addictive - a must listen"

    In the wake of this new Brexit and Trump reality, I've been looking for books, documentaries and articles to try and understand more about all the viewpoints and reasons for voting either way, regardless of which side of the fence I personally fall - my overwhelming sense is one of a deep lack of communication and consideration between any one part of society and the others.

    This audiobook delivers insight and sensitivity in SPADES and I'm so glad I listened. The story of JD Vance's upbringing, childhood community and transition into adulthood is generously and unflinchingly told, and interwoven with just enough detail on the wider political and socioeconomic history of "rust belt" America. The overall impression is of an almost dynastic family saga all the more affecting for being true - I think Anne Tyler must have a long lost nephew from Kentucky, if I were JD Vance I'd be demanding a DNA test!

    Most of all, it's a really compelling listen and I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so thoroughly as I did! Top quality both in the writing and the narration. It can be touch and go when authors narrate their own audio, but Vance does an exceptional job.

    A very timely book which deserves all its accolades. Don't hesitate!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • J. Cronin
    London, UK
    17/02/17
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    "An important story"

    Schools, social workers, courts, medical professionals, employers - all have a responsibility to our children and their families in distress; but as JD says, it's the parents of these children that bear the biggest responsibility. When those parents falter, we have to be there.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Suswati
    22/10/17
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    Story
    "An untold story of working class poverty in the US"

    J. D. Vance's homage to his poverty-stricken, working class roots in America is essential reading for those attempting to understand how a person like Trump can end up in power.

    Without attributing the 2016 election results to Vance and his family himself, the author paints a picture of a total disconnect between establishments and white working class voters. From education, to opportunities in climbing the social ladder, Vance can be seen as an exception due to the lack of outreach from these institutions.

    His story can appear both depressing and uplifting at the same time. From experiencing trauma through a broken home, poverty, and an abusive addict mother, to having supportive grandparents who are able to push him into believing in himself. Vance breaks the mould eventually studying at Yale and becoming a venture capitalist. But his doubts in himself are ever present.

    Vance, however, also blames 'hillbilly' culture and it's encouragement of social rot. Likewise, he recounts stories about lack of work ethic, and the notion of blaming others for their own misfortune. It highlights the need for stability in families in order for upward mobility.

    It is a raw, emotional portrait of growing up in and eventually out of a poor rural community riddled by drug addiction and volatility.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Geri Bruce
    15/10/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    Gives a brilliant first hand account of the effect of social policy on the lives of many Americans. Genuine and well written.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ms
    29/09/17
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    Performance
    Story
    "Excruciatingly honest but we'll worth listening to"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book which was recommended by a work colleague. At times it felt almost voyeuristic but I really felt that it gave me a glimpse into the lives and a small understanding of a group of people who have felt like a complete mystery. A couple of chapters towards the end of the book felt a bit self indulgent but that is a minor criticism. Overall it is informative and entertaining, in an uncomfortable way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Olivia
    25/09/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Insight into working class America"

    an interesting personal account of someone overcoming their socio-economic background and breaking the cycle of abuse and addiction to achieve.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • evianeau
    18/09/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a life-changing book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Hillbilly Elegy to be better than the print version?

    Yes, I loved the audio edition of Hillbilly Elegy as there is no need for holding onto the print version book on the very busy Tube journeys.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was one of those books that teaches you that nothing is impossible.


    Have you listened to any of J. D. Vance’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I haven't but I would love to listen to his other books in future.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    Love the book so much and re-listening it at the moment

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tatiana
    Europe
    29/08/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not seeing the big deal"

    Having connections is good for your career, having a dysfunctional family is bad for your life, and getting away from it all to see a bit of the world and gain perspective can be a good thing. If you could work this out on your own, this book has nothing new to tell you except some semi-amusing anecdotes about crazy-ass people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Admiral Billboe
    oxford
    16/01/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "kids staving"

    good story true to life today in the US.
    someone who made from the other side of the tracks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bee
    30/12/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unexpectedly good"

    Really enjoyed this. Not an academic text but an insight into a culture I know little about from a personal point of view. Explains a bit more about why Trump is so popular. A good combination of sympathy, empathy and realism and a reminder of what children do and don't need. I would have liked a a few other perspectives eg if the author had asked his mother why she thought she behaved in the way she did, but maybe that's another book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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