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Extended Audio Sample Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal, by Jack Kelly Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jack Kelly Narrator: Andrew Reill Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“The Erie Canal rubbed Aladdin’s lamp. America awoke, catching for the first time the wondrous vision of its own dimensions and power.”—Francis Kimball, American architect

The technological marvel of its age, the Erie Canal grew out of a sudden fit of inspiration. Proponents didn’t just dream; they built a 360-mile waterway entirely by hand and largely through wilderness. As excitement crackled down its length, the canal became the scene of the most striking outburst of imagination in American history. Zealots invented new religions and new modes of living. The Erie Canal made New York the financial capital of America and brought the modern world crashing into the frontier. Men and women saw God face-to-face, gained and lost fortunes, and reveled in a period of intense spiritual creativity.

Heaven’s Ditch illuminates the spiritual and political upheavals along this “psychic highway,” from its opening in 1825 through 1844. “Wage slave” Sam Patch became America’s first celebrity daredevil. William Miller envisioned the apocalypse. Farm boy Joseph Smith gave birth to Mormonism, a new and distinctly American religion. Along the way, one encounters America’s very first “crime of the century,” a treasure hunt, searing acts of violence, a visionary cross-dresser, and a panoply of fanatics, mystics, and hoaxers.

A page-turning narrative, Heaven’s Ditch offers an excitingly fresh look at a heady, foundational moment in American history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Jack Kelly’s entertaining romp across upstate New York during the early years of the Erie Canal is fascinating, shocking, and filled with surprises. From religious fanatics to murderers to genius engineers, they’re all here, transforming America in their wake.”

    Lauren Belfer, New York Times bestselling author

  • “In Heaven’s Ditch Mr. Kelly…engagingly juxtaposes the challenges confronting the dreamers who envisioned a link between the Atlantic, the Great Lakes, and the apocalyptic caldron brewing upstate.”

    New York Times

  • “Those who wish to learn something about a critical era and a critical region will find Kelly’s book a good place to start.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Kelly provides a comprehensive look at the social, economic, and religious impact resulting from the building of New York state’s Erie Canal…An intriguing account of often overlooked events that significantly impacted the lives and times of individuals living during one of the most tumultuous times in American history.”

    Library Journal

  • Heaven’s Ditch tells a not-to-be-missed story in a reader-friendly style…Sure to be a hit.”

    Erica Freudenberger, director, Red Hook Public Library, New York

  • “The book is a wonderful read and really captures much of the transformation that was occurring culturally, politically, and religiously in the first half of the nineteenth century and around the canal.”

    David Brooks, education coordinator, Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site

  • “Compelling…Kelly captures the enormous excitement of these heady days. An intriguing synthesis of American cultural and economic currents in the early nineteenth century.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for July 2016
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