Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Audiobook, by J. D. Vance Play Audiobook Sample

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

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Audiobook, by J. D. Vance Play Audiobook Sample
FlexPass™ Price: $16.95
$7.95 for new members!(Includes UNLIMITED podcast listening) Add to Cart learn more
Regular Price: $21.99 Add to Cart
Author: J. D. Vance Narrator: J. D. Vance Publisher: HarperAudio Audio Length: Release Date: June 2016 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9780062477521

Publisher Description

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

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 forty 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 hopes 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, aunt, uncle, 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 humor and vividly colorful 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 this country.

Download and start listening now!


  • “At first the straight man with facts and figures, Vance eases into a multigenerational saga set in eastern Ohio and Kentucky, the story of so many Americans, even those who aren’t ‘hillbillies’…[and] introduces listeners to a community seldom considered but all around us.”

    - AudioFile
  • “Shocking, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and hysterically funny.”

    - Amy Chua, New York Times bestselling author
  • “A beautiful memoir but it is equally a work of cultural criticism about white working-class America…A riveting book.”

    - Wall Street Journal
  • “Essential reading for this moment in history.”

    - New York Times
  • “A harrowing portrait of much that has gone wrong in America over the past two generations…An honest look at the dysfunction that afflicts too many working-class Americans.”

    - National Review
  • “An unusually timely and deeply affecting view of a social class whose health and economic problems are making headlines in this election year.”

    - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • “Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, this memoir is akin to investigative journalism…A quick and engaging read.”

    - Library Journal
  • “Never before have I read a memoir so powerful, and so necessary.”

    - Reihan Salam, executive editor, National Review


  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • Winner of Audible’s Best Audiobooks of 2016 in Nonfiction
  • An Economist Best Book of 2016
  • Longlisted for the 2017 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize
  • New York Times bestseller
  • Audie Award Winner for Best Nonfiction Narration

Customer Reviews

Write a Review
  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Being from Charleston, WV, I was able to relate to much of Vance's memoir. He is to be commended for rising above "his difficult upbringing" and making something of himself, while still appreciating his hometown and childhood. The chapters about his pistol-packin' granny made me laugh out loud. Vance survived his mother's addiction and many worthless stepfathers to serve in the US Marine Corp and ultimately graduate from Yale Law School. This is a great story of survival and success against seemingly bad odds. I enjoyed this book. "

    - Julie, 7/29/2019
  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Listened to this book on a road trip and it definitely kept my interest and made the long trip go fast. J.D. Vance reads this book so it really makes it seem like he is just telling you the story of his life. Would recommend this book to anyone. "

    - sally, 3/30/2019
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " While this was an interesting read, it does not reflect all of Appalachia like some have suggested. "

    - Rhonda, 2/20/2018
  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " Didn't think I would enjoy this book but surprise, surprise...Provided a lot of information about the community, the times, family and life in general. Very Good and I recommend this book "

    - Gaye, 5/12/2017
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5

    " purchased after hearing review on radio. Was disappointed. Moved too slow and appeared to be written for younger audience. couldn't quite finish it. "

    - barbara, 5/5/2017
  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " What an enlightening book about a different culture, I now look at in a different light. I loved that JD Vance was so open and was able to share his life struggles and triumphs to over come his families hardships. Thank you so much for sharing your story and observations about the lives of your community in Kentucky JD. "

    - touchable, 3/28/2017
  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " This is a heart warming book that reminds me of the patients I meet all the time. I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. The story of JD Vance the author is truly inspiring. I am an emergency room physician who has worked in Jackson Kentucky mentioned in the book and still work in the small towns of rural Kentucky. The stories JD mentions in the book are also studies in behavioral science pertaining to Middle America. They are stories that make you cry. They are stories of the proud "deplorables". "

    - Dr Siby Sebastian , 2/22/2017
  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

    " J. D. Vance presents the life of the Appalachian people through the prism of his life experience growing up amongst them. While he presents many of the problems facing hillbillies he doesn't suggest any hopeful solutions. If anything one comes away with the stereotypical view that hillbillies are among the least educated and most disfuctional group of people in our nation. Any suggestions of changing prevailing attitudes don't appear welcoming. The reader comes away thinking that the only way to improve Appalachian people is to shun its culture and environment. I don't know if this is the message Vance had wanted to convey but it is what one can deduct from the reading. The book is very difficult to read. The continued dysfunction of the Appalachian home life tough to hear. It would have been nice to see what deep seeds of anger and suspicion drives the Appalachian culture to be so cruel to those on who are different (financially, culturally, religiously, etc). That piece is sorely missing to understanding the Appalachian culture. "

    - Difficult To Read, 2/8/2017
  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5

    " My parents came to Detroit, from Kentucky and Tennessee, for the "good jobs in the North." As a second generation Appalachian American, this book by JD Vance sounds just like stories my grandparents, aunts, and uncles told me throughout the years. This book offers insight to the culture of "hillbillies"--which was a very negative slur in the early '50's when my parents settled in Michigan.But the auto factory closings made Detroit another section of the Rust Belt that the author writes of. Vance tells of Southerners being the hardest working people and yet, he told of Southerners that do not work, and live on welfare. He speaks of high school dropouts but of higher education as a way out of poverty. This is not at all paradoxical to me. I have repeatedly seen each of these concepts, in my own family. I recommend this book: it is an elegy that needs to be heard. "

    - Darlene, 1/31/2017

About the Author

J. D. Vance grew up in the Rust Belt city of Middletown, Ohio, and the Appalachian town of Jackson, Kentucky. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and served in Iraq. A graduate of the Ohio State University and Yale Law School, he has contributed to the National Review and is a principal at a leading Silicon Valley investment firm.