Michigan and the Great Lakes

Bath Massacre

America's First School Bombing
Arnie Bernstein

A gripping account of America's first—and largest—school mass murder


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.

Cover photographs courtesy of Bath School Museum.

A native of Chicago, Arnie Bernstein is the author of The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago's Civil War Connections and Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100 Years of Chicago and the Movies. He is the winner of a Puffin Foundation Grant and Midwest Regional History Publishing honors.
Visit his Web site at www.arniebernstein.com.

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

  • Named a 2010 Michigan Notable Book

Look Inside

Copyright © 2009, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Supplemental Materials

News, Reviews, Interviews

Listen: Arnie Bernstein interviewed on “The History Show” on RTE Radio in Ireland | 1/8/2019

Listen: Arnie Bernstein interviewed on Michigan Radio | 5/18/2017

Listen: Arnie Bernstein on True Murder Podcast | 1/14/2015

Watch: Arnie Bernstein on BookTV | 5/16/2009

Listen: UMP Author Podcast Series: Arnie Bernstein | MP3 | May 2009

Listen: Review Jack Lessenberry Show | 5/19/09

Read: Review Huffington Post | 5/16/2011

Read: Review of Author Event | Brutus' Blog | 7/13/10

Read: Review BlogCritics.org | 11/13/09

Read: Q&A with Arnie Bernstein | PDF | 5/1/2009

Read: A Writer's Journey | Wonders & Marvels | 1/13/2011

Read: Sentinel-Standard | 3/25/2011

Media Kit

  • Author Photo 1 .jpg. Arnie Bernstein. Photo credit Elizabeth Sattelberger.
  • Photo 1 .jpg. Couzens Memorial Park. Photo by author.
  • Photo 2 .jpg. Andrew and Nellie Kehoe. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Photo 3 .jpg. Bath Consolidated School. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Photo 4 .jpg. Hazel Weatherby. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Photo 5 .jpg. Ruins of the north wing. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Photo 6 .jpg. The remains of Kehoe's truck. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Photo 7 .jpg. Loading an ambulance in the shadow of destruction. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Photo 8 .jpg. Michigan State Police officers holding some of the dynamite planted by Kehoe. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Photo 9 .jpg. Pauline Johns, age eleven. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Photo 10 .jpg. Women and children removing nails from salvaged beams of the damaged building.
  • Photo 11 .jpg. Remnants of the Kehoe farm stood for several generations. Photo courtesy Bath School Museum.
  • Author Biography .doc
  • Hi-Res Cover .jpg
  • Press Release .doc

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 216pp.
  • 20 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

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  • Paper
  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03346-1

Add to Cart
  • $18.95 U.S.

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