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September1999
The Scourges of Heaven
by David Dick

From the hardback jacket:

“Hear ye the Lord! Worthless sinners! The Lord has no other way, no choice but to bring down another scourge! This cholera pestilence. A-men!”

A novel of prejudice and plague, The Scourges of Heaven sweeps gracefully, joyfully, painfully across centuries and generations. The story centers around Cynthia Ann Ferguson, orphaned aboard a vessel carrying immigrants, hopes, dreams—and cholera—from the Old World to the New.

Cynthia’s tale unfolds in the midst of the first of four great cholera epidemics to sweep across America in the mid-nineteenth century. Her journey through life, from New Orleans, up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, and across the Bluegrass to Lexington, Kentucky, parallels that of the deadly scourge.

Upon her arrival in Lexington, Cynthia encounters Bill “King” Solomon, a hard-drinking giant who has taken it upon himself to bury plague victims. She also meets Jem, a free black, with whom she forges a bond that develops into a forbidden love. When the plague claims both Cynthia’s husband and her young son, she is left to question her faith and her future.

David Dick paints a world in which the causes of disease are little understood, where faith is not always a comfort, where human questioning often goes unanswered, and where unexpected death is frequently attributed to the wrath of an angry god. The Scourges of Heaven is based on historical events, yet is more powerfully told than any factual or scientific account of the disease.

David Dick, Emmy Award-winning CBS News correspondent and former director of the School of Journalism at the University of Kentucky, is the author of five previous books, including The View from Plum Lick and The Quiet Kentuckians.


Praise for David Dick’s previous works:

“Rich and deep and full of the joy of life.... Readers can be happy that this good man has found his peace and has taken the time to pass some of it along to the rest of us.“

—Charles Kuralt

“He has come, at this stage of his journey, to a large generosity of spirit.”

—Wendell Berry

“It is with a poet’s eye for detail, and a farmer’s feel for the land, that Dick charts a life in the country—and finds truth central to life anywhere.”

—Lexington Herald-Leader

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