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Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

Audiobook CD - 2016
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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: COM 305.5 V277a
Characteristics: 6 audio discs (6 3/4 hr.) : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in
4 3/4 in.,1.4 m/s,mass-produced
audio file,CD audio,rda


From the critics

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Jan 17, 2021

This is not a comment about content as I found it an interesting commentary on the subject. As a self-proclaimed aficionado of recorded books, I say Vance was a terrible, terrible narrator. Very seldom can an author do justice to their work by doing the narration and this was NO exception. He should have had this decent story presented by a professional.

Jan 26, 2020

I didn't know what to expect but glad I didn't have preconceived expectations and no thought to how or if there was supposed to be a message about the current administration. His opinion on that front is of no importance to me. I'd lean toward agreement with 2 other reviewers, Mllex and hinahusain. I doubt the ones that need to hear his story will hear it.

The in depth explanations of how the group lives gives a clear reference frame and it's reasonable to find some compassion, not pity. He refers to Scots-Irish culture in an isolated region, not so different from other immigrant groups that exist today in America. So is he lucky or fortunate a variety of factors intervened? his family received counseling/therapy; he had more than one family structure for living; he had enough sense not to drug or drink; he entered military service and learned discipline, order, listening skills, personal presentation and found some idea of what life is outside his narrow confines.

I liked the intro but not his reading and was overly ready for it to end. Good on Vance, now will he return to his community to help educate or share the experience?

Right in the middle of reading/listening to "Hillbilly Elegy" by JD Vance. It is a really fantastic book. An eye opening view into the real world of 'hillbillies' who are shown in pop culture as a caricature of southern, white poverty. JD Vance brings life and empathy to these caricatures, showing them to be living, breathing humans, relatives, and people growing up in a self-perpetuating cycle. For a young man who 'escapes' the cycle he grew up in, in large part due to the support and love of grandparents, JD Vance has a unique perspective on the culture of his formative years and numerous issues of the people who live in it. In the line of books like "Educated" and "The Glass Castle" JD Vance shows us a world that we might not have seen otherwise, giving us real people with real problems and examining the reasons for the poverty and hopelessness of his family and neighbors.

Aug 06, 2019

When recounting his troubled and impoverished childhood, Vance doesn't seek pity from readers or aim to play on their heartstrings. He stoically reflects on his dysfunctional family and upbringing, while attempting to make sense of it all, as much for himself as the reader. Methodically, he examines people, events and his community through sociological and psychological lenses and uses his life as a case study. Vance also ventures to comment on the class, racial and social biases that hamper the progress of the poor, yet Americans deny exist within our society. 'Pull yourself up by your bootstraps,' we say. But, some Americans can't even afford the proverbial boots. As Vance acknowledges, no simple solution exists for eradicating America's deep-rooted poverty; the only hope of easing it requires changes within affected communities and cooperation from society at large.

Jul 07, 2019

Interesting memoir. Not as stat based as I thought it would be but comes off heartfelt and relatable.

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.

Feb 26, 2019

This audio book is recorded by the author himself which usually lends itself to a more emotional retelling of a story. However, in the case of this book, the author's flat and monotone voice does nothing to help this story. I can't really honestly tell you if I enjoyed this book or if I just listened to it and hoped that it would get better. Surprise (or not), it didn't get better. I thought that Vance's life was a compelling story and that his family members had unique, interesting stories that I wanted to learn more about. But when Vance took his story and begin to make conclusions with it, I lost any interest.

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.

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Oct 17, 2017

chrstphrbrwn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Oct 17, 2017

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


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“whenever people ask me what I’d most like to change about the white working class, I say, “The feeling that our choices don’t matter.”
― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis


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