Bath Massacre, New Edition
America's First School Bombing
New Edition, Updated and Expanded Edition
The new edition of this Michigan Notable Book includes a new introduction and stories from interviews with two additional survivors, Myrna (Gates) Coulter and Ralph Witchell, which took place after the first edition was published in 2009.
On May 18, 1927, the small town of Bath, Michigan, was forever changed when Andrew Kehoe set off a cache of explosives concealed in the basement of the local school. Thirty-eight children and six adults were dead, among them Kehoe, who had literally blown himself to bits by setting off a dynamite charge in his car. The next day, on Kehoe's farm, what was left of his wife—burned beyond recognition after Kehoe set his property and buildings ablaze—was found tied to a handcart, her skull crushed. With seemingly endless stories of school violence and suicide bombers filling today's headlines, Bath Massacre serves as a reminder that terrorism and large-scale murder are nothing new.
“(T)he story feels painfully modern.”
—Lev Raphael, Huffington Post
“(A) searing and painfully compelling story . . . Ultimately, Bath Massacre serves as a reminder that, whatever the armchair psychologists might say about the effect of violent video games and television on today's society, our modern culture has no monopoly on murderous psychopaths.”
—Kristina Riggle, Grand Rapids Press
“This affecting and thoroughly researched book is at its heart a local history gathered around a single tragic incident. Bernstein is fond of the minor details of small town life . . . in troubling contrast to these quotidian details are the meticulous descriptions of the human suffering Kehoe caused.”
—Michigan Historical Review
“. . . A must read for anyone who likes true crime stories—or who thinks senseless mass killings are a modern phenomenon.”
—Jack Lessenberry, Traverse City Record-Eagle
Praise / Awards
"With the meticulous attention to detail of a historian and a storyteller's eye for human drama, Bernstein shines a beam of truth on a forgotten American tragedy. Heartbreaking and riveting."
—Gregg Olsen, New York Times Bestselling Author of Starvation Heights
"A chilling and historic character study of the unfathomable suffering that desperation and fury, once unleashed inside a twisted mind, can wreak on a small town. Contemporary mass murderers Timothy McVeigh, Columbine's Dylan Klebold, and Virginia Tech's Seung-Hui Cho can each trace their horrific genealogy of terror to one man: Bath school bomber Andrew Kehoe."
—Mardi Link, author of When Evil Came to Good Hart
"Bernstein has a historian's eye for small and significant period details of fascinating interest to anyone who thinks about what the 1920s were like in Michigan, which makes it easy to pick up anywhere and read some small detail that gives you a sense for the times."
—Edward Vielmetti, community organizer in Ann Arbor, MI
"Arnie Bernstein, combines the research of a good writer with a crime reporter's insights."
—Scott Duncan, former police sergeant
"...A must read for anyone who likes true crime stories - or who thinks senseless mass killings are a modern phenomenon."
—Jack Lessenberry, Traverse City Record-Eagle
"Chicago author Arnie Bernstein has turned a tragic piece of Michigan history into a searing and painfully compelling story … Ultimately, Bath Massacre serves as a reminder that, whatever the armchair psychologists might say about the effect of violent video games and television on today's society, our modern culture has no monopoly on murderous psychopaths."
—Kristina Riggle, The Grand Rapids Press
"This affecting and thoroughly researched book is at its heart a local history gathered around a single tragic incident. Bernstein is fond of the minor details of small town life...in troubling contrast to these quotidian details are the meticulous descriptions of the human suffering Kehoe caused."
—Seth Kotch, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"One can't read this book without being deeply moved by the pain and horror suffered by the children and their parents, or the almost superhuman effort by the community to rescue entombed children. The author has done a remarkable job of letting the people of Bath tell of their tragedy. It gives the book an immediacy and a direct emotional connection with Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech and all the recent and horrible school shootings. The book also touchingly relates the lengths the town went to memorialize those lost in the senseless mass murder."
?—Michigan in Books
Named a 2010 Michigan Notable Book
News, Reviews, Interviews
: Author Interview in The Beverly Review
: Author Spotlight by The Authors Guild | 03/15/2022
: Author Interview in Daily Southtown
: Author Interview on Episode 240 of Most Notorious! A True Crime History Podcast | 04/19/2022
: The original Author Interview on Episode 26 of the Most Notorious! A True Crime History Podcast | 2017
: Author Interview on The Writer Shed podcast | 03/15/2022
: Author Interview on WGN Radio with Rick Kogan | 02/13/2022
: Author Interview on True Murder: The Most Shocking Killers podcast | 02/10/2022
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