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Download Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal Audiobook, 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 Reilly Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2016 ISBN: 9781504729369
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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

  • “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

  • “Kelly is an excellent storyteller. He has a gift for combining the familiar with the unfamiliar.”

    Ithaca Times

  • “The birth and spread of the evangelical Christian movement is well documented…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

  • “[A] compelling narrative of social, political, and religious visionaries…Kelly captures the enormous excitement of these heady days. An intriguing synthesis of American cultural and economic currents in the early nineteenth century, all culminating with the completion of the Erie Canal.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Andrew Reilly offers a solid, engaging narration that captures the excitement of the period. He varies his pace nicely to keep the text flowing for the listener…This is really two histories—one of the canal and one of religious fervor. Because of Reilly’s reading, diligent listeners will learn a lot about both.”


  • “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

  • “Kelly’s entertaining romp…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, author of City of Light

  • “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

  • “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

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for July 2016
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About the Author

Jack Kelly is a journalist, novelist, and historian, whose books include Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America’s Independence, which received the History Award Medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, American Heritage, and other national periodicals and is fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has appeared on the History Channel and been interviewed on National Public Radio.

About the Narrator

Andrew Reilly is an actor, narrator, and teacher who has lived in ten countries. Andrew has taught language learning through drama in Russia and Romania, and English in the West Bank, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia. He is fluent in French, Spanish, and German.