Praise for Heaven’s Ditch

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“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, NYT bestselling author of City of Light

“Intriguing. . . Recommended for American history buffs in search of stories untold and rarely documented. . . during one of the most tumultuous times of American history.”
—Library Journal

“In this bright, breezy, and immensely informative account, Jack Kelly interweaves the saga of one of the nation’s greatest engineering feats, the Erie Canal, with the stories of Joseph Smith and a half dozen other colorful figures who peopled upstate New York in its most creative period.”
Richard Lyman Bushman, author of Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling

“Jack Kelly has a whole new take on two old creations—the Erie Canal and the Second Great Awakening—deftly synthesizing familiar separate stories into a timeless interplay of technological and religious fervor, speculation and salvation. Heaven’s Ditch reminds us how man and God have long mingled in the psyche of America where strong, deep, competing urges for commercial and spiritual uplift give us destructive chaos and astonishing progress. Heaven’s Ditch is beautifully written and masterfully told: intelligent and insightful new history.”
—Gerard Koeppel, author of Bond of Union: Building the Erie Canal And the American Empire

“Heaven’s Ditch is the fantastic story of a fantastic undertaking through a fantastic country, the wild, turbulent, sometimes murderous construction of the greatest engineering project since the pyramids, built through an America bubbling with religious revivals, get-rich-quick schemes, and manifest destiny.  It’s all true!  Stranger than fiction but just as entertaining.”
Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd

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

“The Erie Canal was the most audacious public works project of its day, a game-changer in American history, and the stage for some wild and intriguing characters and events – including daredevils, zealots and Mormons. Who knew? Jack Kelly’s Heaven’s Ditch tells a not-to-be-missed story in a reader-friendly style. Sure to be a hit, this thought-provoking book will definitely spark discussion.”
Erica Freudenberger, Director, Red Hook Public Library, Best Small Library in America Award finalist

“An improbable yet 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 19th century.”
Kirkus Reviews

An adventure story disguised as the history of the Erie Canal, Heaven’s Ditch is compelling reading, fascinating history and a character driven chronicle of a lost America. Highly recommended.”
Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstores