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Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing Paperback – March 16, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

ARNIE BERNSTEIN learned firsthand about American Nazis as a high school student, when a group of neo-fascists threatened to march in his neighborhood, known for its large Jewish population. He has been interviewed by the "New York Times", BBC Radio, NPR, PBS, and numerous documentaries. He's lectured at DePaul University, the Chicago History Museum, and other venues, and appeared on C-SPAN's Book-TV. Bernstein's nonfiction tale "Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing "was honored as a Notable Book of the Year by the State Library of Michigan. He lives in Chicago.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN REGIONAL; 5th or later Edition edition (March 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472033468
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472033461
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Blumenthal on April 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
April 20th marks the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School killings in Colorado. Most of us tend to think of this horrific event as a product of life in our modern world, which is filled with violence and rage. But Columbine was far from the first school disaster.

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.
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Format: Paperback
As a resident of Bath, Michigan in the 1990's I can attest to the fact that the bombing of 1927 is still a topic that is spoken of in whispered yet respectful tones.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Arnie Bernstein's "Bath Massacre" is, simply stated, a powerhouse; a staggering work of intense emotional impact. Bernstein employs flawless prose and pacing to tell the story of Andrew Kehoe and the devastation this madman wrought on the small community of Bath, Michigan, more than 80 years ago. The author expertly builds the foundation for the story, adeptly juggling an enormous cast of characters, and then proceeds to turn the screws.

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.
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I was curious to see how the author would treat this terrible part of Bath's History. Since there have been other books written about it I wondered if he could really add to it and I must say that I found it to be very good. He touched on areas that were never explored in the previous books and it is obvious that he did extensive research.

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...
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