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Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing Paperback – March 16, 2009
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When it comes to philosophy, Arnie follows the words of notable sage Groucho Marx: "I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book."
Top Customer Reviews
Writer Arnie Bernstein chronicles the first United States' mass murder in "Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing," which is rich with detailed interviews, newspaper snippets, public documents, and psychological discussions. The story takes place in 1927 in the small town of Bath, Michigan, where a farming community built their first consolidated school after a history of one-room schoolhouses. On the school board was a man named Andrew Kehoe. As the book goes on, we get to know Kehoe quite well.
The book sets up the psychopath Kehoe quite well with descriptions of his bizarre upbringing, then neighbors' commentary on his odd methods of farming (leaving most of the crop to rot in the fields), and some pretty nasty stories about his relationships with animals. It always seems to me that if a person is cruel to animals, it says volumes about what kind of character he has. Kehoe, it seems, had very little character at all.
But he managed to fool a lot of people. To some he was just the neighbor down the way--who had a fondness for dynamite and blowing things up in the middle of the night.
As the school board treasurer, Kehoe would balance books to the penny. But he wouldn't always get his way in policy decisions. He also had an unexplainable, long-running hatred for superintendent Emory Huyck. No one knew what gripes were festering in Kehoe's brain, but something made him spend long hours in the basement under Bath Consolidated School.Read more ›
Unfortunately, most people of today have forgotten what transpired 80+ years ago. This is partially due to the fact that many of the survivors are now gone. Of those unrelated to Bath, Michigan or the people involved, the events of that spring day so many years ago have been replaced over the years by other events, other tragedies.
In the aftermath of such events as the Columbine High School shooting and Virginia Tech, today's media rushes to report previous or related incidents, but nearly always forget to print the very first...the event that shook a State, a Nation, and the World. An event caused by one man that changed the lives of so many.
In this book, Arnie Bernstein delicately writes of the events leading up to the bombing of Bath Consolidated School. Through meticulous research and eye-witness reports, he manages to transport the reader back through time to a day when the sun was bright, the flowers were perfect for picking, and like those of today, the children were itching for summer break, that is until...their world changed in the blink of an eye.
By the time Bernstein chronicles the terrible events of the morning of May 18, 1927, intercutting shorter and shorter vignettes one on top of the other, we can feel the horror and chaos in our bones, can smell the smoke, can hear the screams of children and parents alike. It is an unnerving experience but Bernstein walks a delicate tightrope perfectly, describing the horrors of the bombing without being at all sensationalistic, all the while showing considerable respect for those who suffered and perished in the blast. As this sleepy village tries to make sense of what has happened, Bernstein beautifully encapsulates the ensuing acts of heroism and humanity displayed by those whose lives were changed forever that day.
It is an amazing literary achievement and it puts Bernstein in the rarefied company of a select few non-fiction writers able bring their stories to life as vividly as any novelist.
"Bath Massacre" is an astonishing, heartbreaking masterpiece, written with the eye of an historian and the heart of a poet.
I lived in Park Lake, MI and attended Bath Schools all of my school life starting in 1958 and graduating in 1971. I shared the halls with relatives of survivors and knew the story well. From 5th grade to 8th grade I was in the same building that was partially destroyed from the blasts and because I had a vivid imagination it was not hard for me to make up stories in my head about that terrible day.
I am glad that someone took the time to write this book. The world should know that evil is not anything new...that evil has been around for a very, very long time...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a lifetime michigander this story hit close to home. Greatt read!Published 21 days ago by Jeri ballinger
Ask the people you know when the most deadly school massacre occurred, and most likely none will answer, “1927. Read morePublished 4 months ago by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson
I was disappointed in it. It needed a lot more pictures and personal stories.Published 9 months ago by Estevan Lara
The secondary sources are relatively thin, but that is not a strong criticism pre-24 hour horror cycle. The primary sources are priceless as they have mostly passed on. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Optamazonimus Prime