After writing Hill Man, 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 men."
Giles originally published the book in paperback in 1954 under the pseudonym John Garth. Her usual 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 unromanticized portrayal of poor, rural Kentuckians. This special edition marks the first time the book has ever been available in hardback.
The novel's hero is Rady Cromwell, a man with dangerous ways that make men admire him and women love him. Born the son of a preacher in the hills of Kentucky, Rady grows into a shrewd but likeable 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 conquests of various women and pieces of property. Bold, inventive, hard working, 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 the thrill of a foxhunt by moonlight, and in the refreshing waters of a stream after a long day in the fields.
"Set in the mid-1920s, Hill Man is a realistic portrait of rural Kentucky life and language." -- Kentucky Living