Hill Man

Author: Janice Holt Giles

After writing Hill Man, author Janice Holt Giles said, “I was struck by its strength. It is the most realistic ridge book we have written, completely honest and presenting the truest picture of most of the ridge man.”

The book was originally published in paperback in 1954 under the pseudonym John Garth Giles’s previous publisher declined to issue the novel, arguing that it was too sexual and violent for a writer whose other books were popular family book club selections. Now one of the most sought-after novels in the Giles canon, Hill Man is desired as much for its rarity as for its compelling and romanticized portrayal of poor, rural Kentuckians. This special edition marks the first time the book has been available in hardback.

The novel’s hero is Rady Cromwell, a man with dangerous ways that make men admire him and woman love him. Born of a preacher in the hills of Kentucky, Rady grows into a shrewd but likable prankster and hell-raiser with a gift for separating people from their money. Beginning his adult life with nothing more than a gun, a dog, and a guitar, Rady becomes a backwoods entrepreneur, working diligently to climb the social and economic ladder.

Hill Man follows Rady from his poor beginnings through his conquest of various woman and pieces of property. Bold, inventive, hardworking, and good natured, Rady follows every opportunity that comes along and takes great pride in raising a herd of cattle or a successful crop of corn or tobacco. Yet he also delights in singing folk ballads around a fire, in thrill of a foxhunt by moonlight, and in the refreshing waters of a stream after a long day in the fields.

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