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Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer

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Harold Schechter, Amazon Charts bestselling author of Hell’s Princess, unearths a nearly forgotten true crime of obsession and revenge, and one of the first—and worst—mass murders in American history. In 1927, while the majority of the township of Bath, Michigan, was celebrating a new primary school—one of the most modern in the Midwest—Andrew P. Kehoe had other plans. The Harold Schechter, Amazon Charts bestselling author of Hell’s Princess, unearths a nearly forgotten true crime of obsession and revenge, and one of the first—and worst—mass murders in American history. In 1927, while the majority of the township of Bath, Michigan, was celebrating a new primary school—one of the most modern in the Midwest—Andrew P. Kehoe had other plans. The local farmer and school board treasurer was educated, respected, and an accommodating neighbor and friend. But behind his ordinary demeanor was a narcissistic sadist seething with rage, resentment, and paranoia. On May 18 he detonated a set of rigged explosives with the sole purpose of destroying the school and everyone in it. Thirty-eight children and six adults were murdered that morning, culminating in the deadliest school massacre in US history. Maniac is Harold Schechter’s gripping, definitive, exhaustively researched chronicle of a town forced to comprehend unprecedented carnage and the triggering of a “human time bomb” whose act of apocalyptic violence would foreshadow the terrors of the current age.


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Harold Schechter, Amazon Charts bestselling author of Hell’s Princess, unearths a nearly forgotten true crime of obsession and revenge, and one of the first—and worst—mass murders in American history. In 1927, while the majority of the township of Bath, Michigan, was celebrating a new primary school—one of the most modern in the Midwest—Andrew P. Kehoe had other plans. The Harold Schechter, Amazon Charts bestselling author of Hell’s Princess, unearths a nearly forgotten true crime of obsession and revenge, and one of the first—and worst—mass murders in American history. In 1927, while the majority of the township of Bath, Michigan, was celebrating a new primary school—one of the most modern in the Midwest—Andrew P. Kehoe had other plans. The local farmer and school board treasurer was educated, respected, and an accommodating neighbor and friend. But behind his ordinary demeanor was a narcissistic sadist seething with rage, resentment, and paranoia. On May 18 he detonated a set of rigged explosives with the sole purpose of destroying the school and everyone in it. Thirty-eight children and six adults were murdered that morning, culminating in the deadliest school massacre in US history. Maniac is Harold Schechter’s gripping, definitive, exhaustively researched chronicle of a town forced to comprehend unprecedented carnage and the triggering of a “human time bomb” whose act of apocalyptic violence would foreshadow the terrors of the current age.

30 review for Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    4.5 Stars For the love of God! This man, Andrew P. Kehoe, was a twat-ass-bastard-piece of sh*t! I didn’t know anything about this man until this book...or maybe I did and chemo brain fogged the history. This one man was the greatest mass murderer of children in American history!! Not to mention animals and adults he killed! He deserved to be quartered and set on fire but I digress. He took care of himself at any rate. This man would have killed more people if some of his plan didn’t go awry. Can 4.5 Stars For the love of God! This man, Andrew P. Kehoe, was a twat-ass-bastard-piece of sh*t! I didn’t know anything about this man until this book...or maybe I did and chemo brain fogged the history. This one man was the greatest mass murderer of children in American history!! Not to mention animals and adults he killed! He deserved to be quartered and set on fire but I digress. He took care of himself at any rate. This man would have killed more people if some of his plan didn’t go awry. Can you even imagine!! I felt like the author did a wonderful job of finding out as much information as he could with what was given. Kehoe destroyed the Bath Consolidated School and it was horrific. Everything he did was horrific and I must say there are graphic scenes in the book. The author also filled in other tidbits of history inside this story. I’m going to leave with a quote. They had a special ceremony years later and invited the 9 surviving members of the massacre. Fifty years after Andrew Kehoe perpetrated his unspeakable act-the greatest mass murder of children in America history-nine elderly women and men who had lived through that calamitous day walked up to the stage and received their diplomas. Yeah, I cried!! *Thank you to Netgalley and Little A for a digital copy of this book. Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....

  2. 4 out of 5

    Saylor

    Happy publication day!! This was a great read! Maniac is an amazing piece of work, but it also hurts like hell. Harold Schechter is thorough and devastating in this true crime chronicle of a "human time bomb" whose acts of violence seem to foreshadow an era of mass murder and bombings. Schechter consulted books, newspapers, journals, census records, and so much more to detail the lives of so many people and communities together in order to accurately tell the story of The Bath School Disaster. T Happy publication day!! This was a great read! Maniac is an amazing piece of work, but it also hurts like hell. Harold Schechter is thorough and devastating in this true crime chronicle of a "human time bomb" whose acts of violence seem to foreshadow an era of mass murder and bombings. Schechter consulted books, newspapers, journals, census records, and so much more to detail the lives of so many people and communities together in order to accurately tell the story of The Bath School Disaster. There are so many elements that played a part in making this book as good as it was. The background into the area that would become Bath, the life stories of the immigrants who would give birth to Andrew Kehoe, the contemplation on the public's tendency to remember certain crimes for generations while others, such as this one, that are just as publicized and heinous are forgotten almost overnight. The inclusion of other events throughout the story to help you understand what was shaping the way people lived at the time, and even to remind you of all the things happening at once that you don't think about, was incredible. Using records, quotes, and facts, Schechter gives you the information you need to make your own analysis. Andrew Kehoe was the first son born after six daughters and thus pressure was placed on him to be the heir, especially in comparison to his siblings' successful lives. Placed on a pedestal and developing a pathologically inflated sense of self-importance. Reportedly a genius who was cold and distant, as well as a loner. You read the reports from others that show cruelty in the first half of his life. For true crime readers this book has a little bit of everything that we tend to see and study in a mass murderer, but with a relatively above average life at the time and a seemingly good environment what could have caused it? In the climax of the story, the events leading up to and during the bombing of the school, my heart was palpitating. The short snapshots throughout this chapter felt like the flashing scenes in a movie before bad things happen that drive up your anxiety. The worst part was the aftermath. The newspaper reports and witness accounts of the reactions of the parents and the community, as they lose 45 people to Kehoe's horrifying act, most of them children. This book's worst quality is that it's so real. While my heart is aching after reading this, I can't help but be impressed with Harold Schechter and his ability to put these events to paper with so much going on at once, and to have me at the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it. This is definitely an author who stands out, and one who I'll have to read more from. Thank you to NetGalley, Little A, and Harold Schechter for this advanced review copy, this was a great book to read and you broke my heart.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Vonda

    Quick, rapid flowing short book that tells the story of a sheer monster. I had never heard of this early serial murderer that started as most with killing small animals but there was such unadulterated hate! He was a narcissistic sadist, filled with rage and paranoia and was wanting revenge. On May 18, he detonated explosives in the school, killing 38 children and 6 adults. That was the deadliest school massacre in US history! The most despictable human being that you have probably never heard o Quick, rapid flowing short book that tells the story of a sheer monster. I had never heard of this early serial murderer that started as most with killing small animals but there was such unadulterated hate! He was a narcissistic sadist, filled with rage and paranoia and was wanting revenge. On May 18, he detonated explosives in the school, killing 38 children and 6 adults. That was the deadliest school massacre in US history! The most despictable human being that you have probably never heard of.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    May 18, 1927 Bath Michigan's School disaster/mass murder remains the deadliest of its kind in the history of the United States. The heartbreak, the tears, the pain, the tragedy. One man, Andrew P. Kehoe detonated a series of explosives and killed thirty-eight children, and six adults. At least 58 people were injured as well. Kehoe had studied engineering at Michigan State University. But he was mainly a farmer and treasurer of the township school board who seethed with rage, was paranoid, and narc May 18, 1927 Bath Michigan's School disaster/mass murder remains the deadliest of its kind in the history of the United States. The heartbreak, the tears, the pain, the tragedy. One man, Andrew P. Kehoe detonated a series of explosives and killed thirty-eight children, and six adults. At least 58 people were injured as well. Kehoe had studied engineering at Michigan State University. But he was mainly a farmer and treasurer of the township school board who seethed with rage, was paranoid, and narcissistic. He made serval trips to obtain dynamite but at the time dynamite was often used on farms, so his actions were not deemed unusual and did not raise any red flags. On the day of the explosion, he murdered his wife, set fire to his property, killing animals, and left a stenciled message on his fence which read "Criminals are made, not born" and loaded his truck with explosives, and drove to the school. Where he was not finished inflicting carnage. Can you even imagine what everyone on the scene experienced and witnessed? The anguish of identifying your children? The heartbreak of a losing a child, a loved one, a neighbor? The "Mad Butcher of Bath" is not the only killer discussed in this book. Other cases and murderers are mentioned. History of the area is discussed as well. Extensively researched, well written, and heartbreaking, this is a gripping read for True Crime fans. It is educational and has statements and quotes from those who were there that day. Thank you to Little A and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carol Macarthur

    Harold Schechter juxtaposes the heinous actions of "seriously troubled" Andrew P. Kehoe against the backdrop of U. S. and world events in the early decades of the Twentieth Century in this novel that demands to be read in one sitting. The novel chronicles the egregious actions of Kehoe, who proclaims himself a victim, in a chilling, thoroughly-researched, true crime novel about the first mass killing In the United States. In stripped-down prose, Schecter presents this crime against society that Harold Schechter juxtaposes the heinous actions of "seriously troubled" Andrew P. Kehoe against the backdrop of U. S. and world events in the early decades of the Twentieth Century in this novel that demands to be read in one sitting. The novel chronicles the egregious actions of Kehoe, who proclaims himself a victim, in a chilling, thoroughly-researched, true crime novel about the first mass killing In the United States. In stripped-down prose, Schecter presents this crime against society that presaged the mass killings of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and many others in recent history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is a vivid account of a school bombing in 1927 that took the lives of 38 children and 6 adults. Some of it was hard to read due to the detailed descriptions of the injuries and destruction. Andrew P. Kehoe blamed the whole town, and his wife, for his financial issues and the tax put on the town to help build the school was his biggest complaint. It’s sad that he felt like punishing the townspeople in this way was the answer. If all the explosives that he had planted had detonated the whole This is a vivid account of a school bombing in 1927 that took the lives of 38 children and 6 adults. Some of it was hard to read due to the detailed descriptions of the injuries and destruction. Andrew P. Kehoe blamed the whole town, and his wife, for his financial issues and the tax put on the town to help build the school was his biggest complaint. It’s sad that he felt like punishing the townspeople in this way was the answer. If all the explosives that he had planted had detonated the whole town of Bath, Michigan would have been gone. The story is told in great detail and gives the reader the background behind the town and Andrew Kehoe. The book also contains the story of Charles Lindbergh and his 1927 nonstop flight from New York City to Paris. His adventure takes places during the same time as the Bath bombing. The author also mentions many other crimes that took place during that time period. One that is told is the story of the murder of Albert Snyder by his wife, Ruth Snyder, and her boyfriend, Henry Judd Gray. There are also many cases mentioned in the book that involve child culprits. Thankfully none of these are told on detail. All in all, the book was interesting and well written. I have enjoyed many books by Harold Schechter and I look forward to reading more. (Advanced readers copy courtesy of NetGalley)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather~ Nature.books.and.coffee

    I can't believe I had no idea about this case. In 1927, a new and modern (for it's time) primary school had opened in Bath, Michigan. Andrew P. Kehoe whom was the school board treasurer, and local farmer. He was an educated, respectable neighbor and friend! But underneath that act, he was a narcissistic sadist, filled with rage and paranoia and was wanting revenge. On May 18, he detonated explosives in the school, killing 38 children and 6 adults. That was the deadliest school massacre in US his I can't believe I had no idea about this case. In 1927, a new and modern (for it's time) primary school had opened in Bath, Michigan. Andrew P. Kehoe whom was the school board treasurer, and local farmer. He was an educated, respectable neighbor and friend! But underneath that act, he was a narcissistic sadist, filled with rage and paranoia and was wanting revenge. On May 18, he detonated explosives in the school, killing 38 children and 6 adults. That was the deadliest school massacre in US history! This was so interesting! True Crime fans will definitely want to read this well researched book about this deranged mass murder. You will read about Andrew Kehoes life, and how although growing up in a well to do family life, there was cruelty from the beginning. I was on the edge of my seat reading the chapters before the incident. And I was heartbroken reading about the aftermath. The author did an amazing job with this story, and I'd definitely be interested in reading more of his work!

  8. 4 out of 5

    HollyLovesBooks

    This book was truly a surprise. It’s a true crime story focusing on one man in the town of Bath Township in Clinton County Michigan, the home of a mass murderer that most people have never heard anything about. Andrew Kehoe was a member of the Bath community along with his wife. They never had children but yet Mr. Kehoe was involved politically with the school in town. During his lifetime, the rural community turned away from the one room schoolhouse idea and built a consolidated school for all This book was truly a surprise. It’s a true crime story focusing on one man in the town of Bath Township in Clinton County Michigan, the home of a mass murderer that most people have never heard anything about. Andrew Kehoe was a member of the Bath community along with his wife. They never had children but yet Mr. Kehoe was involved politically with the school in town. During his lifetime, the rural community turned away from the one room schoolhouse idea and built a consolidated school for all grades. The author takes us through his life events that seemed to shape his decision making, good and bad. In addition to this historical perspective, we also see a broader view of other important and newsworthy events that occurred around the same time. For instance, Charles Lindbergh flew is crossing of the Atlantic as a solo pilot shortly after the horrible events of the community. This perspective was fascinating to understand why most people are unaware that crimes such as this occurred prior to the more recent mass shootings, such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas. I found this to be a very readable and intriguing dissection of the events and people involved. It was clear that a great deal of research went into the writing of this book. I definitely learned something from reading this book. Recommended for true crime readers. #Maniac #Netgalley #LittleA

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘On 18 May 1927, Andrew P Kehoe dynamited the Bath Consolidated School in Bath, Michigan.’ I had never heard of this mass killing, which resulted in the murder of thirty-eight children and six adults. Who was Andrew Kehoe, and why did he do this? Mr Schechter’s exhaustive research takes the reader through the history of the area and the history of the town of Bath before chronicling these events. Andrew Kehoe was, I read, a local farmer and the school board treasurer. He had been a respected member ‘On 18 May 1927, Andrew P Kehoe dynamited the Bath Consolidated School in Bath, Michigan.’ I had never heard of this mass killing, which resulted in the murder of thirty-eight children and six adults. Who was Andrew Kehoe, and why did he do this? Mr Schechter’s exhaustive research takes the reader through the history of the area and the history of the town of Bath before chronicling these events. Andrew Kehoe was, I read, a local farmer and the school board treasurer. He had been a respected member of the community. But a bad year on the farm, followed by a tax for the support of the school led Andrew Kehoe to be elected to the school’s board where he was both disruptive to management and helpful in that his handyman skills saved the school money. In addition to planting explosives under the school, he set the building on his farm ablaze after killing his wife. He also destroyed the farm equipment and prevented his horses from escaping the fire. Andrew Kehoe was behind on his mortgage payments and resentful when his re-election to the school board was not supported. He had stockpiled explosives and used them to deadly effect. How does a town recover from such atrocity? In addition to those murdered, many were injured. I read this account, understood the ‘how’ but never the ‘why’. The book also discusses other mass murders, and how such events are viewed by the public. In the case of Bath, this horrific event was overshadowed by the news of Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight: ‘The Bath School Disaster might be described as a “seven-day horror,” although—thanks to the mania surrounding Lindbergh’s flight—its grip on the public imagination didn’t even last a full week.’ Except, of course for those directly affected. I have read a couple of Mr Schechter’s books because of my interest in true crime. I have mixed feelings about this book. While I appreciated the research, the context setting and the account of events, I wanted answers that neither Mr Schechter nor anyone else can provide. We know what Andrew Kehoe did, and how, but I do not fully understand ‘why’. Perhaps that is a good thing. Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Little A for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    We had not lived in Lansing, MI very long before people referred to the Bath school bombing. I had never heard of Bath, MI or the school bombing. But the history was legend in Lansing. In 1927 a farmer blew up the new consolidated Bath school, that had 250 children inside. At the same time, his own house and farm buildings blew up. He had murdered his wife and placed her body in one of the farm buildings. He drove to the school to see the carnage and when the Superintendent of Schools came to his We had not lived in Lansing, MI very long before people referred to the Bath school bombing. I had never heard of Bath, MI or the school bombing. But the history was legend in Lansing. In 1927 a farmer blew up the new consolidated Bath school, that had 250 children inside. At the same time, his own house and farm buildings blew up. He had murdered his wife and placed her body in one of the farm buildings. He drove to the school to see the carnage and when the Superintendent of Schools came to his car to talk, the farmer set off an explosion in his car, killing them both and killing and harming bystanders. Forty-four funerals. Nearly the entire Fifth Grade class was dead. Lansing doctors said it was as bad as anything they saw in WWI. Andrew Kehoe's wife inherited a farm in Bath, MI. They moved in and Kehoe became a good neighbor, involved in the community. When crop values fell he was broke. He focused on the taxes for the newly built school as the cause of his ruin. Kehoe had an "inventive genius" and exceptional mechanical skills. But a closed head injury may have caused a personality change. He killed his sister's cat. He was seen abusing animals by Bath neighbors and friends. But few suspected he was capable of such evil. Kehoe collected his explosives. In plain sight, he entered the school where he set up a system of explosives. He remained unemotional and detached even knowing what he was going to do. Schechter shares the stories of people who heard the explosion and raced to the scene. He narrates the desperate struggle to find the survivors and the awful sight of blasted bodies. Lansing was fifteen miles away. Victims were taken to the hospitals there, and first responders from Lansing and surrounding communities flocked to help at Bath. Kehoe had planned his own demise, taking with him the school superintendent. When Schecter first introduced Charles Lindbergh into the story I was confused. I learned that his historic flight dwarfed the story of the Bath School disaster. It faded into memory as new, lurid murder stories took over the headlines. We do have short attention spans. Schechter sets the crime in context of the history of mass murderers and serial killers. It was interesting to learn that Kehoe purchased the explosives legally; after WWI, new markets were needed and they were promoted for farm use. A post-war drop in crop profits impacted farmers. Kehoe's horrific crime of terrorism shocked the rural community of Bath, Michigan, and still appalls today. I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    This is the first work I've read by prolific true crime write Harold Schechter. It was okay. The book didn't seem to include any new revelations or research, but rather was a compilation of newspaper articles from the day. Frankly, the book featured a lot of history on Lindbergh and his solo flight from the US to Europe. While the story played a role in why the Bath massacre isn't more well-known, as the newspaper coverage of it was almost immediately replaced by articles about the aviator's fea This is the first work I've read by prolific true crime write Harold Schechter. It was okay. The book didn't seem to include any new revelations or research, but rather was a compilation of newspaper articles from the day. Frankly, the book featured a lot of history on Lindbergh and his solo flight from the US to Europe. While the story played a role in why the Bath massacre isn't more well-known, as the newspaper coverage of it was almost immediately replaced by articles about the aviator's feat, I felt the amount of the book dedicated to aviation was disproportionate simply because it was so unrelated to the actual topic at hand. Yes, it was international news at the time. But why should I book about the bombings in Bath, Michigan and perpetrator Henry Kehoe feature at least 2 chapters about Lindbergh? It seemed incongruous to the story the author should have been telling. As of a few years ago, there were still survivors of the tragic event alive. The author seemingly made no attempt to contact any survivors or even descendants of them. I don't recall a full list of victims in the book, yet Schechter detailed Lindbergh's last meals before this history-making flight and the aviator's mother's final words to him before his attempt at flying to Europe solo. It just didn't work for me. FTC disclosure: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paperclippe

    It would be hard to say I enjoyed this book, since it's in regards to what might be one of the earliest instances of a school massacre. That said, there were a lot of things about it that I appreciated, first and foremost of which being that Schechter made the very timely connection of a man bombing a school to all the "lone wolf" bombers we've seen over the last few decades. The subject of the book, Mr. Kehoe, was a man who was so angry about having to pay his taxes for a school in which he had It would be hard to say I enjoyed this book, since it's in regards to what might be one of the earliest instances of a school massacre. That said, there were a lot of things about it that I appreciated, first and foremost of which being that Schechter made the very timely connection of a man bombing a school to all the "lone wolf" bombers we've seen over the last few decades. The subject of the book, Mr. Kehoe, was a man who was so angry about having to pay his taxes for a school in which he had no children, he bombed the place and killed 45 students, after murdering his wife, and then blew himself up in what also might have been the first instance of a car bomb. Linking such instances to the likes of Timothy McVeigh felt very appropriate and accurate. He also brought up what feels like the modern phenomena of having so many major events going on at once that we can't process them all, jumping from story to story to story and feeling like we and the media never give any tragedy the time and introspection they deserve. It turns out that's a story as old as time, or at least as old as the turn of the last century. That being said, despite bringing up Charles Lindberg (as his transatlantic flight was the story that knocked the Bath School Bombing out of the papers), and the Ku Klux Klan, Schechter fails to ever mention the fact that Lindberg himself was a white supremacist. He also uses a goodly amount of ableist language - and while I'm willing to excuse the very title of the book because it was pulling directly from headlines of the time, which is a major part of the book's narrative, using terms like "insane" outside of discussing the legal qualifiers of what sort of person is mentally fit or unfit to stand trial feels irresponsible at worst and ignorant at best. The major takeaway is that I wish this book had been longer, honestly, and tied together more of the threads between the Klan, white supremacy, the type of person that would bomb a school because of taxes, the media, and the real purpose of the insanity defense, and while the actually narrative here is a story well-told, there are a lot of threads left dangling at the end.

  13. 4 out of 5

    April B.

    Thank you NetGalley and Harold Schechter for the eARC Copy of Maniac. I don't read a lot of non fiction but when I do I read true crime and the top true crime author is without a doubt, Harold Schechter! Harold puts in countless hours of meticulous research to create the most complete picture with all the facts of the subject. The subject of this book was the unspeakable act of horror in a small village of Bath, MI in the late 1920's. I have family in Michigan and heard about a tragedy in the Tow Thank you NetGalley and Harold Schechter for the eARC Copy of Maniac. I don't read a lot of non fiction but when I do I read true crime and the top true crime author is without a doubt, Harold Schechter! Harold puts in countless hours of meticulous research to create the most complete picture with all the facts of the subject. The subject of this book was the unspeakable act of horror in a small village of Bath, MI in the late 1920's. I have family in Michigan and heard about a tragedy in the Township of Bath but never knew the details. When I found out about this book, I couldn't pass it up. Andrew Kehoe was a demon walking among innocents, to create a plan so horrible and kill and harm so many... I don't even have words for it. As I read the accounts of what happened that fateful day, I grieved for those victims, parents, family and town. This is a difficult book to read but it is important that the tragedy and victims are not forgotten. I will post my review on Netgalley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Google play!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Meaghan

    While I enjoyed what was in the book, it felt unfinished. There were multiple strands of narrative that didn't ever get tied together. For example, the Charles Lindbergh tangent could have been braided in to the discussion of eugenics, but it is left dangling. Instead there are chapters about his Atlantic crossing with no understanding of why they are included, other than to show it was a popular new item at the time. While I enjoyed what was in the book, it felt unfinished. There were multiple strands of narrative that didn't ever get tied together. For example, the Charles Lindbergh tangent could have been braided in to the discussion of eugenics, but it is left dangling. Instead there are chapters about his Atlantic crossing with no understanding of why they are included, other than to show it was a popular new item at the time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    I love true crime, but this just didn't hit the spot for me. I'm sure it was well researched, but the pacing was off. That being said, Amdrew Kehoe was one sick SOB and I can't believe I was unfamiliar with the destruction he caused. Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I love true crime, but this just didn't hit the spot for me. I'm sure it was well researched, but the pacing was off. That being said, Amdrew Kehoe was one sick SOB and I can't believe I was unfamiliar with the destruction he caused. Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    An interesting book in which I learned about an event I hadn't heard of before. This felt like a brief synopsis of the story so while it was interesting, it seemed a bit short. I would have liked to have learned more about the people involved. Thank you to Netgalley and Little A for an advanced ebook in exchange for a fair and honest review. An interesting book in which I learned about an event I hadn't heard of before. This felt like a brief synopsis of the story so while it was interesting, it seemed a bit short. I would have liked to have learned more about the people involved. Thank you to Netgalley and Little A for an advanced ebook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Charles V. Lane, chief of the Fire Marshal Division of the Michigan Department of Public Safety, was one of the first to get word of the catastrophe. His immediate thought, as he later testified, was that the explosion had been caused by high-test gasoline, a fuel commonly used at the time in the heating systems of rural schools. He began to think otherwise when, soon after he arrived in Bath, a state policeman approached and handed over four sticks of the Hercules dynamite that had been removed Charles V. Lane, chief of the Fire Marshal Division of the Michigan Department of Public Safety, was one of the first to get word of the catastrophe. His immediate thought, as he later testified, was that the explosion had been caused by high-test gasoline, a fuel commonly used at the time in the heating systems of rural schools. He began to think otherwise when, soon after he arrived in Bath, a state policeman approached and handed over four sticks of the Hercules dynamite that had been removed from Kehoe’s farmhouse. At roughly the same time, two officials exploring the school basement, Captain John O’Brien of the Lansing Police Department and William Klock of the Ingham County Sheriff’s Department, came upon a small pile of debris that had fallen from the ceiling in the coal room. Peering closer, they were startled to see several sticks of pyrotol [a repurposed explosive leftover from World War I available to farmers through the Department of Agriculture for use in destroying tree stumps and similar tasks] protruding from the broken plaster. Wires ran from the explosives to an unknown source. Fearing that the pyrotol might be “connected to a timing device,” they bolted upstairs. Orders were given for the rescue work to be halted. The perimeter of the disaster site was roped off, and parents—wild to reach their still-buried children—were made to move back from the rubble. O’Brien and Klock—soon to be hailed for their heroism in the local press—then descended back into the basement with a group of other intrepid individuals: two state policemen, Ernest “Buck” Haldeman and Donald McNaughton; Lieutenant Lyle Morse of the Michigan Department of Public Safety; and Assistant Fire Chief Lefke. The pyrotol that O’Brien had found on the floor of the coal room—which had been inserted into the ceiling, concealed with wire mesh and plaster, then jarred loose when the north wing exploded—turned out to be a tiny fraction of what they were about to uncover. Andrew Kehoe had been a busy man. Following the wires that led from the pyrotol, the investigators found over 300 additional sticks of unexploded pyrotol, 10 burlap sacks of gunpowder, and 204 sticks of Hercules dynamite planted throughout the building between the ceiling of the basement and the first floor of the school, all connected by a network of wires to two hot shot batteries and a crude timing device contrived from an alarm clock. For whatever reason—faulty wiring, insufficient juice from the batteries, a short circuit—most of the dynamite that Kehoe spent weeks planting at night had failed to detonate. Its combined weight came to an estimated 504 pounds—enough, as reported in the Lansing Capital News, “to have wrecked the entire village.” This was an exaggeration. But, as Kehoe obviously intended, it certainly would have been enough to destroy the entire school and kill every child and teacher in it. Had his monstrous plan succeeded, the newspaper noted, “Bath would have been the scene of the greatest premeditated murder of children in the history of the world.” - From Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer (Chapter 20: Ground Zero) by Harold Schechter As one can surmise from the above quote, Maniac is a recounting and examination of the bombing of the Bath Consolidated School in Michigan by Andrew Kehoe, a local farmer, in late May of 1927. Due apparently to a combination of personal/professional issues (a chronically ill spouse, losing an election for a minor public office, and being outvoted on multiple issues while on the school board) and financial difficulties (his farm was very nearly foreclosed on) that Kehoe blamed on the village and specifically the newly built school, he assembled the incendiary means to exact revenge for his wounded on pride on what the village held most dear and that he felt most aggrieved by: the school and the children educated there. Kehoe felt that the new school was an unnecessary expense that he, being childless, shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support. Apparently an annual tax of about $150 was the reason for his financial woes, despite the fact that, at the time of the bombing, he was four years behind on his farm’s mortgage. With the monthly payment supposed to be $360, he was over $17,000 in debt on the farm alone; if his wife’s family didn’t personally hold the mortgage – as opposed to a bank, the kind of entity that usually holds mortgages – he would have been foreclosed on long before the bombing. He very nearly was: the wife’s family’s lawyer started foreclosure proceedings, but called them off at the family’s insistence, though not before Kehoe was served the (then retracted, though he didn’t know it) foreclosure paperwork. Kehoe also ran for the school board and was elected to treasurer’s office, where he spent all his time trying to curb ‘profligate spending,’ primarily by voting against measures that required any funding, refusing to disperse funds for approved projects (which were pretty much all approved by outvoting him), and by actually cheating people out of earned funds by ‘forgetting’ to pay them for services rendered. He also filled in as town clerk for a year after the actual clerk (the woman who was voted in) died unexpectedly. When that term was up, he did not win the election to officially replace her. This paints the picture of a man under a lot of pressure, not making it, and not seeing a way out, not to mention one who felt alienated and rejected by the his community. What this does not take into account was that Kehoe had a history of what can only be called sketchy (alarming) behavior: things that could be explained away in isolation, but reveal a pattern that should have raised red flags. He was known to have a temper, especially later in life, had a habit of accusing others of cheating him, and was suspected to be violent. He likely killed his stepsister’s pet and did stand by and watch his stepmother burn to death in what was considered at the time to be an accident with a gas stove. In the aftermath of the Bath School bombing, it was suspected that Kehoe had sabotaged the stove to make it explode, though no evidence for that hypothesis was cited in the text; what is known is that he waited several minutes to render aid to a woman burning alive, and when others were about to arrive the ‘aid’ he gave made the situation worse. There is no justification for Andrew Kehoe’s actions and what’s left is to understand them. While most of Maniac is a narrative of events leading up to the bombing, the tragedy itself, and its aftermath, the last portion of the book focuses more on examining Kehoe, a man that was widely decried at the time as a madman, and his actions in the context of history. After all, who but someone insane would spend months accumulating explosives and inventing devices purely to cause suffering and death on a massive scale? But Schechter makes the implicit argument that Kehoe was not insane, at least not in the way that would matter in a courtroom. As far as anyone knows, he wasn’t hallucinating or delusional; he clearly understood his actions and their consequences. It’s clear in his behavior that his actions had their intended consequences and that if Kehoe had any regrets about that May day, it was that some of his explosives didn’t go off and cause more damage. The entire school was intended to be a casualty of his miserable and misbegotten narcissistic rage – killing every single one of the 200+ people, most of them children, inside – while in reality only the north wing of the school collapsed. In the end 38 children and 3 adults died in the school bombing and another 4 (including Kehoe himself) died in a car bombing. It was still an unimaginable toll for the small community of only 300, though not nearly as bad as it could have been. That, if nothing else, is small comfort, though it was undoubtedly cold comfort as literally everyone in Bath, Michigan lost someone in the bombings. Schechter also reflects on why some crimes become emblematic of a time period. He brings up multiple times that the Bath School bombing – which claimed several dozen victims, the vast majority of them children – was never referred to as ‘the crime of century,’ though seven other crimes were given that dubious honor. They were a mix of domestic disputes and small scale, financially motivated crimes and a single mass murder (Richard Speck’s rape, torture, and murder of 8 nursing students in 1966) with kill counts ranging from 1 to 8 and claiming a total of 19 lives. While all of these are tragedies, the author rightly ruminates on the fact that they are much smaller in scale than the Bath School bombing and – crucially, in his view – spoke to the fears of a changing society at the time the crime occurred. Whereas the 1927 Synder-Gray “Double Indemnity” murder – where Ruth Synder and her lover clumsily killed her husband both for the insurance money and so they could marry – spoke to post-Edwardian era fears about sexually liberated women and the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping – where Charlie Lindbergh Jr. was kidnapped by a german-american immigrant, apparently for the ransom money – spoke to early 20th century racism and nativism, the Bath School bombing seemingly spoke to no such fears; it was not seen as emblematic of anything because it was considered at the time and for a long time after to be the work of a single midwestern madman. However, as Schechter points out, Kehoe was a stable but angry white man who used his access to dangerous materials to take out his hardship and feelings of inadequacy on the community around him, who he blamed for his problems, rather than taking responsibility for those problems or dealing them in anything even remotely resembling a reasonable manner, and that is something that we who live in the age of mass shootings – all but a handful of which are perpetrated by angry white men – find quite familiar. Though not considered emblematic of its time, the author posits that it’s because Kehoe was so far ahead of his time in all the worst ways. Overall, Maniac is an excellent book and, of the several books I’ve read by this author, I think this is the best written. Schechter is a crime historian who has a tendency to play up the more storylike elements of certain accounts, presumably to make his narrative nonfiction more readable for general audiences, especially those who are unfamiliar with the place/time in which those crimes took place. However, narrative nonfiction is a balancing act between accounting the events and analyzing them in a way that keeps the reader’s interest, which is usually done by stringing them along like scenes in a story, but without letting the account become too storylike, which runs the risk of making the accounting sound fake by emphasizing extraneous details or casting persons involved as character archetypes rather than actual people. This is one of the reasons I wasn’t particularly fond of The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation – Schechter’s book about the 1937 murder of Veronica Gedeon, Mary Gedeon (her mother), and a lodger in their apartment – which had a tendency to indulge peripheral details and making characters of the people involved. Maniac, for the most part, keeps on target with minimal indulgence in storytelling devices and few digressions. Not only does it make for a more streamlined book, but it also keeps the focus of the text on the reality of the events discussed, which makes them feel less like product of a horror writer’s imagination. Also, at least for me, keeping the focus on the reality of the events reinforces their power. A passage like this: From the surrounding farms, fathers and mothers sped into town in motorized vehicles and on horseback. In the “little village of three hundred souls,” as the New York Times reported, “hardly a family did not have at least one child enrolled” in the school. Though horrorstruck by the scene of devastation, many rejoiced to find their children badly shaken but unharmed or—like Marcia Detluff [a teenager who escaped the building with only a gash on her ankle]—only slightly injured. Fifth-grader Ray McGonigal, who was standing near a window when the north wing exploded, was blown outside “clear of the falling bricks and debris” and suffered nothing worse than a “severe jarring.” Others were not so lucky. Living just a block away, the mother of third-grader Doris Elaine Johns was one of the first parents to reach the school. As she neared the entrance, she was frozen by a grotesque sight: the figure of a little girl, clearly dead, “hanging by the legs” from a pile of crumbled masonry. She let out a shriek as she recognized her daughter. Mr. C. Chapman, who had “rushed from the fields,” clawed at a pile of bricks and shattered timber. From beneath came the voice of his nine-year-old son, Russell. “I’m all right, father,” said the boy, “but get me out of here quick.” By the time Chapman reached him, however, it was already too late. His child was dead, “his neck all but severed from a fallen beam.” And there would be more—many more—such scenes before that dreadful day was over. [From Maniac, Chapter 18: Catastrophe] holds all the more power for the fact that it is real; not exaggerated or fictional, but a product of real actions and emotions, recounted by witnesses and survivors in their own words. My one complaint is that, as usual, Schechter has a tendency to demur writing explicitly about his conclusions and instead leaves the reader to surmise them from implications. Along with less storyfication of the narrative, there is less of that in Maniac, but he still leaves some of his conclusions unclear. Regardless, this is an excellent book overall that I learned a lot about a little known tragedy from, and it gave me a lot to think about.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Virginia “Ginny” Franz

    3 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️could be 4 . Well written(felt like a newspaper article) compact precise account of a horrible murder and the murderer that the author reports as the first mass murder in our country. The author gives accounts of other murders that followed this occurrence. Fast compelling read. Well researched and documented.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Why is there an entire chapter on Lindbergh? Definitely not needed. Oh wait, two chapters on Lindbergh? This is a SHORT book. Why have it veer so far off focus? There are other, better books about the Bath School disaster. Why write another if you have nothing new to say?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julie Stielstra

    * Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review * I was born and raised in Michigan, and attended Michigan State University, 7 miles south of Bath Township. I had never heard of the Bath School disaster (better called a massacre) until a Chicago columnist recently wrote about it. Twenty children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook; thirty-eight children and six adults were blown to pieces when a vengeful local farmer detonated hundreds of pounds of explosives carefu * Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review * I was born and raised in Michigan, and attended Michigan State University, 7 miles south of Bath Township. I had never heard of the Bath School disaster (better called a massacre) until a Chicago columnist recently wrote about it. Twenty children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook; thirty-eight children and six adults were blown to pieces when a vengeful local farmer detonated hundreds of pounds of explosives carefully disposed inside the Bath consolidated school in 1927. What happened and why doesn’t anyone know about it? Harold Schechter’s book Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer (New York: Little A, 2021) intends to tell us, with somewhat mixed success. In an odd first chapter, Schechter provides a capsule introduction to the region of central Michigan that is now in Clinton County. In breathless tabloid prose (unfortunately, a tone he sustains throughout), he recounts some early inter-tribe indigenous conflicts liberally larded with terms like “bloody,” “butchery,” “slaughter,” “superstitious awe,” and “primitive fears.” Is he suggesting the Bath School Massacre grew out of some kind of cursed land, not to mention the “savage” stereotype he uncomfortably approaches? It’s twenty-some pages before we meet even the ancestral Kehoes, refugees from the Irish potato famine, who ultimately produce Andrew Kehoe in 1872, the main actor of this nightmare. Andrew Kehoe was smart, hard-working, clever about mechanics and engineering. His mother died when he was a teenager. He drifted and worked in various places, as a dairyman in my hometown for a time, and as a lineman in Iowa. Somewhere along the way, though the evidence is sparse, he apparently sustained a “severe fall” that reportedly left him “semi-conscious” for weeks. By 1910, at nearly 40, he was back home with his father, who had remarried a much younger woman. At that time, gasoline-powered stoves (“Have your husband’s warm breakfast on the table in half an hour!”) had become popular – and Schechter recites numerous news accounts of deadly explosions caused by these stoves. Kehoe’s stepmother lights the stove one morning and as Kehoe looks on, it blows up, spraying her with flames. It occurs to him to throw water on her, which only spreads the fuel and fire. She dies a horrific death. Schechter doomily announces that “only later, when the world learned exactly what [he] was capable of, did rumors spread…” that maybe he had rigged the stove on purpose. But this idea ends here. The following year, Kehoe marries the niece of a prominent and wealthy local farmer. Trouble starts with the neighbors: he angrily chases off the priest collecting money for a new church building; he breaks off relations with a neighbor over a sale of cattle who die due to Kehoe’s own negligence. The rich uncle dies; Kehoe takes out a mortgage to buy his farm. He manages to fight with the buyer of his own farm over a pile of firewood. This is the man that Schechter describes on p. 8 as “a respected citizen, admired by his neighbors”? Well, when they move to the new farm, his wife’s established friends and relatives welcome them. He is handy and helps people fix things. But there’s an arrogance about him: he wears a three-piece suit to plow his fields, and chides people who lose at cards or who didn’t go to college like he did. And the animal abuse is appalling: he beats a horse to death, he shoots a neighbor’s lost dog for coming on his property, and he seems to have killed his stepsister’s pet cat. Enter the local school superintendent. A new consolidated school is to be built; the childless Kehoe bitterly resents paying any tax to fund it. He wangles his way onto the school board where he fights every expenditure, he “forgets” to deliver the superintendent’s paychecks and halves his vacation time. His mechanical skills lead him to take over maintenance of the school building, with free run of it 24/7. He falls badly behind on his mortgage. The school board is sick of him; he runs for township clerk – and loses. In the fall of 1926, he drives down to Jackson, MI and buys 500 pounds of pyrotol, a war-surplus explosive used to clear rocks and stumps in fields. The dealer thought nothing of it, assuming it was for normal purposes… but, as Schechter duly warns us: “But he was wrong.” Seven months later, on the last day of school, Kehoe murders his wife and sets his farm on fire, having hobbled his horses with wire to be sure they cannot escape. At 8:45 AM, the carefully placed and wired explosives go off, collapsing half the building on schoolchildren and teachers. As hysterical parents and frantic first responders flock to the carnage, Kehoe pulls up in his truck. He beckons over the superintendent – and detonates his explosives-and-shrapnel-packed truck. Schechter enjoys telling us about the skein of intestine wrapped around the truck’s steering wheel – and the gawker who snips off a piece of it as a souvenir. Within days, postcards are being sold depicting the rows of children’s bodies, and Mrs. Kehoe’s charred corpse. And the story is almost completely forgotten in the news. Why? Because two days later, Charles Lindbergh has taxied off for his flight to Paris, and the world goes mad for Lindy. Schechter devotes many pages to Lindbergh’s history and flight, and it feels like padding. This book clocks out at over 300 pages, but the line spacing is generous, the page margins wide, and blank pages intersperse every chapter. This is frankly a much slighter book than it looks. There are lengthy litanies of dozens of sensational murders of the era having nothing to do with Michigan, Andrew Kehoe, psychology, or much else except that there were lots of murders in the papers those days (and these, of course). But this is what Harold Schechter does: write true-crime books. This one feels like an assemblage of clips from newspapers.com, collected by a dutiful research assistant, and assembled by Schechter. He adds little to these stitched-together snippets beyond his heavy-breathing “if only they had known,” “one unstable man’s implacable hatred,” and other such melodramatic commentary. He tries to make a case for crimes that capture the imagination and memory of a society because of what it fears most: Charles Manson as the drug-crazed hippy of the 60s, poisonings in an era when patent medicines were freely sold and toxins of all kinds dumped into waterways, and mass murders post 9/11. He doesn’t really succeed in fitting the Bath School Massacre into any such explanation: this was one damaged, furious, violent man who killed many dozens of innocents, yet was functional enough to be considered a “respected citizen” by some. It remains a horrifying puzzle, and other than the value of Schechter reminding us of this one terrible event that should be honored and remembered, Maniac does not do very much to explain it, or enlighten us.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kim Delie

    "Maniac" is a book about one of the 1st school mass murders. While the actual event is the integral topic of the book, much of the content is devoted to the historical accounting of other murderous personalities. The book goes so far as to give a quite detailed account of Lindbergh's famous flight. In order to justify the large amount of time covering Lindy, we are later told that the media coverage of the Bath Massacre was minute compared to that of the 1st transatlantic flight. Seems more like "Maniac" is a book about one of the 1st school mass murders. While the actual event is the integral topic of the book, much of the content is devoted to the historical accounting of other murderous personalities. The book goes so far as to give a quite detailed account of Lindbergh's famous flight. In order to justify the large amount of time covering Lindy, we are later told that the media coverage of the Bath Massacre was minute compared to that of the 1st transatlantic flight. Seems more like something to fill the pages. In any event, I learned alot about how history has handled evil doers, or as pointed out by Schechter angry, white, narcissistic men.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    Remarkable that I'd never heard of this story before! For that reason, it's an interesting read, but beyond the standard information, MANIAC never quite goes further. Schechter seems to be attempting to forge connections between modern school shootings, but beyond just stating the facts, he doesn't actually FIND any real connections. There were also strange tangents (why so much about Lindbergh?!) that didn't make sense. Remarkable that I'd never heard of this story before! For that reason, it's an interesting read, but beyond the standard information, MANIAC never quite goes further. Schechter seems to be attempting to forge connections between modern school shootings, but beyond just stating the facts, he doesn't actually FIND any real connections. There were also strange tangents (why so much about Lindbergh?!) that didn't make sense.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Title: Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer Author: Harold Schechter Publisher: Little A Release Date: 09 March 2021 Genre: Literary, nonfiction I was given a free copy of Maniac in exchange for an honest review. Summary In 1927, while the majority of the township of Bath, Michigan, was celebrating a new primary school—one of the most modern in the Midwest—Andrew P. Kehoe had other plans. The local farmer and school board treasurer was educated, respected, and an acc Title: Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer Author: Harold Schechter Publisher: Little A Release Date: 09 March 2021 Genre: Literary, nonfiction I was given a free copy of Maniac in exchange for an honest review. Summary In 1927, while the majority of the township of Bath, Michigan, was celebrating a new primary school—one of the most modern in the Midwest—Andrew P. Kehoe had other plans. The local farmer and school board treasurer was educated, respected, and an accommodating neighbor and friend. But behind his ordinary demeanor was a narcissistic sadist seething with rage, resentment, and paranoia. On May 18 he detonated a set of rigged explosives with the sole purpose of destroying the school and everyone in it. Thirty-eight children and six adults were murdered that morning, culminating in the deadliest school massacre in US history. Maniac is Harold Schechter’s gripping, definitive, exhaustively researched chronicle of a town forced to comprehend unprecedented carnage, and the triggering of a “human time bomb” whose act of apocalyptic violence would foreshadow the terrors of the current age. What I Think When I think of mass shootings, Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Amish school shooter, Parkland, and so many countless shooters come to mind. It’s hard to believe that this phenomenon is nothing more than a tragic development of the recent century. We don’t think of mass shootings or bombings that could have occurred any earlier. What Harold Schechter shows us in his new book is that these acts of murder have happened earlier, and even became a precursor to the modern mass murder. Maniac is different in the respect that it sets the reader up to what is going to happen later. We learn of Andrew Kehoe’s beginnings, why we moved to Bath, Michigan and his disgruntlement of the township’s taxation of the public in order to build and run its first school. His hatred for the school principal was so great that Kehoe accepted a position in the school board just to antagonize the man. I thought the novel was masterfully written; Schechter gave us enough information about Kehoe, his life, and the township to understand what was going on without bogging us down with information that would have distracted us from the main story. This is one of the few times where I would have liked to have known more about what was going on. Kehoe had burned down his farm before committing his crime at the school, effectively killing his wife and his livestock. I would’ve liked to known more about Nellie (his wife), her relationship with her husband, and whether or not his personality was the reason she was committed to an asylum only to be brought back and killed. It doesn’t detract from the story, but since it was something he did before going to the school, I would’ve liked to have known more. All in all, the story was well paced. Schechter opens up with the modern mass shooter, brings us back in time to one of the earliest mass murderers, then brings it all together with how Kehoe’s actions are similar to those in modern times. For those who’ve read Dave Cullen’s Columbine won’t want to miss this book coming in March 2021.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    I received a digital copy from Netgalley for an honest review. This is one of those books that you know how it's going to end when you start it. It's right there in the title that something horrid is going to happen. Still, as I got to the actual part of the book about the mass killing of school children in Bath, Michigan my heartbroken and couldn't stop reading until I actually finished the book. Though this is the second book I've read by Harold Schechter, this is the one that will stick with m I received a digital copy from Netgalley for an honest review. This is one of those books that you know how it's going to end when you start it. It's right there in the title that something horrid is going to happen. Still, as I got to the actual part of the book about the mass killing of school children in Bath, Michigan my heartbroken and couldn't stop reading until I actually finished the book. Though this is the second book I've read by Harold Schechter, this is the one that will stick with me for a while. What I really liked about this book was how Harold Schechter wrote it. It isn't just facts thrown onto the page and organized in a dry timeline. Instead, Schechter tells the story in pieces. He lays the foundations by telling us the history of Bath, Michigan, and of the Kehoe family. As a reader, you get introduced to people in the town. It's written kind of like a puzzle where you get all the pieces and slowly you see the picture it's forming. I also really liked that the chapters were small. Schechter draws you a picture of this moment and of this person, then moves on to the next. Sometimes with True Crime, I feel like there is a lot of reputation of facts or a reiteration of something that's already been established. That isn't the case with Maniac and that's what, in my opinion, made this so easy to read. It moves through the timeline of events leading up to the bombing and somehow builds a bit of suspense, at least for me since this is one true crime story I hadn't read. Another thing I liked about Maniac was how it wasn't just about Andrew Kehoe, the man behind the bombing. Harold Schechter has a whole section about the aftermath of the bombing. He talks about the families, the town, and about other similar crimes that followed. Rarely in the true crime books I've read I have seen that. This wasn't just a book about what drove Kehoe to kill 38 school children, it was also about those that survived, and how this was the start of a horrid trend in our country. So I thought it was great that readers were able to see how Bath, Michigan moved from this terrible event, but never really forgot. My only real negative about this book was there was a couple of chapters for me that felt like they didn't fit. There were two chapters dedicated to Charles Lindbergh, and I understand that his flight is one of the reasons the Bath School Bombing was pushed out of national headlines, but I didn't feel it warranted two chapters about a man who really had nothing to do with the bombing. There was also a chapter about another crime that set up to explain why the Bath School Bombing was lost to history in a lot of ways, but I didn't honestly feel like we needed an entire chapter dedicated to that crime. I feel like all three chapters pulled away from the events being told and were just sort of the throwaway. In fact, I didn't even read the chapters on Lindbergh and only skimmed the other one. All-in-all I enjoyed this book and felt it well researched and well presented. Schechter doesn't shy away from the facts or the gore of this book, which there is a bit of gore here and there but nothing excessive. Is it a bit unsatisfying at the end, yes but that has nothing to do with the writing, or construction, of this book. Sometimes the bad guys get an easy end.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ingrid Stephens

    Maniac is the true story of a forgotten mass murderer by the name of Andrew Kehoe. Kehoe has the dubious distinction of being the first, and for the longest time, the worst Mass murder in American history. Kehoe on May 18, 1927, detonated a set of rigged explosives with the sole purpose of destroying a newly built school in Bath, Michigan and everyone in it. Thirty-eight children and six adults were murdered that morning, culminating in the deadliest school massacre in US history. Schecter is a t Maniac is the true story of a forgotten mass murderer by the name of Andrew Kehoe. Kehoe has the dubious distinction of being the first, and for the longest time, the worst Mass murder in American history. Kehoe on May 18, 1927, detonated a set of rigged explosives with the sole purpose of destroying a newly built school in Bath, Michigan and everyone in it. Thirty-eight children and six adults were murdered that morning, culminating in the deadliest school massacre in US history. Schecter is a true-crime author who specializes in serial killers. I’ve read a few of his other books and essays on the subject. I’m not a big fan of true crime when it involves modern killers but I admit I am fascinated by the serial killers of the early days in our country. So many got away with some of the most heinous crimes and I think Kehoe might have gotten away with his murder of these children if he had not chosen to have one last hoorah, killing himself and three others as people frantically, just a few feet away, dug in the rubble of the Bath school to save their babies. This final act also put Kehoe in the annals for the first car bombing in America. Now his story alone is interesting enough to warrant a book about it, and Schecter is a very thorough researcher, leaving little untold or undocumented. I did have a few issues, minor I suppose, but I found some of the history going on at the same time, such as Lindberg’s flight from New York to Paris, a strange sidetrack to take right as Kehoe blows up the school. I admit I was confused at first. What did Charles Lindberg have to do with all of this? Nothing that I could see until almost 4 chapters later, Schecter explains his point, which was basically how an event even this horrible can be pushed from the front pages by a more interesting topic. Something we see all the time now. He jumps again to other killers, seemingly to no purpose until later when he connects the dots for us. I really didn’t need him to explain how Kehoe led Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parks High School, or the killing of the Amish Children in Pennsylvania. Every action must start somewhere...mass school shootings and killings had Kehoe. All in all, a very interesting history lesson that shows we have not come very far at all. I received this book free from Little A, and Netgalley for my honest, unbiased review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich)

    The Case: On 18 May 1927, Andrew Kehoe, a disgruntled farmer and prominent member of the Bath Township community in Michigan, detonated bomb at the Bath Consolidated School, killing thirty eight children and six adults (including himself). The Bath School Massacre is the oldest and deadliest school massacre in American history. My thoughts: I've read Ripped From The Headlines a couple of months ago by Harold Schechter and loved it! So, when I see this book is up for request in NetGalley, The Case: On 18 May 1927, Andrew Kehoe, a disgruntled farmer and prominent member of the Bath Township community in Michigan, detonated bomb at the Bath Consolidated School, killing thirty eight children and six adults (including himself). The Bath School Massacre is the oldest and deadliest school massacre in American history. My thoughts: I've read Ripped From The Headlines a couple of months ago by Harold Schechter and loved it! So, when I see this book is up for request in NetGalley, I knew I had to read it! Thank you Little A, author Harold Schechter and NetGalley for this gifted review copy in exchange for an honest review. To be honest, I have not heard of this case before, and I am glad to have read about it in this book. This is not a long book yet there is so much to unpack. Harold Schechter's research takes us through the history of Clinton Country, Bath Township, and background of Kehoe's family before chronicling the events that led to the tragedy on the morning of May 18. After the bombing, authorities discovered a wooden board on Kehoe's farm fence and stenciled on it with black paint was his final message - "Criminals Are Made, Not Born." Chilling isn't it?? Albeit a horrific tragedy, it quickly faded into obscurity when overshadowed by news of Charles Lindbergh solo flight from US to Europe and Snyder-Gray "Double Indemnity" murder case. "The Bath School Disaster might be described as a "seven-day horror", although - thanks to the mania surrounding Lindbergh's flight - its grip on the public imagination didn't even last a full week." I could understand why other cases were being mentioned in this book but to have two chapters about Lindbergh's flight career (which has nothing to do with the case) just baffled me. Otherwise this would have easily been a five-star read for me. With that being said, this is a good book to go to if you want to learn about this case. I liked how the author covers everything from the history of the place, the tragedy to the aftermath of the case. No doubt this is one heartbreaking and difficult book to read since it involved deaths of schoolchildren, but I am glad to learn about this case. Pub. Date: Mar 9, 2021

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    Wow. Chances are, you, ,like me, have never heard of this event. Even when he lists current events that cause people to look back upon this and write about it, I could not remember reading about this horrific event. I had to think that it was because what was right in front of me was also so horrific, I was not reading every single thing that was out there about what was happening in the now and what has happened in the past. Because I will tell you this; once you read this story and the horrors Wow. Chances are, you, ,like me, have never heard of this event. Even when he lists current events that cause people to look back upon this and write about it, I could not remember reading about this horrific event. I had to think that it was because what was right in front of me was also so horrific, I was not reading every single thing that was out there about what was happening in the now and what has happened in the past. Because I will tell you this; once you read this story and the horrors that Andrew Kehoe inflicted on the community of Bath, you will never, ever forget it. And in my opinion, that is a good thing. We need to honor those lost that day, remember them in our hearts and minds, like we do those who have been lost in other horrific events that have occurred in the time since in our country. This was one of the most horrific acts I have ever read about, perpetrated by one disgruntled man, and all I can say is [similarly to those events at Columbine], if it had all gone to plan, the death and destruction would have been as such that even Charles Lindbergh could not have knocked the event out of the news [this was an odd part of the story - I thought initially that a part of another book had accidentally gotten put in this one as I had NO idea how CL could be a part of this story]. Told in short spurts [which was good in a way because there were absolute moments where you needed to recover from what you were reading; there are moments of graphic descriptions that will never, ever leave you], this is a well-researched, well-written book. I cannot imagine writing a book like this - to research and write about the deliberate destruction of children is just horrific to think about, and yet I am grateful because now I can remember these people and the horrors they suffered and for some, somehow survived, and honor them in a way that should have been happening all along. I can only hope that this book brings this horrific attack to the nations attention and that the honoring of this town and all it suffered at the hands of a narcissistic psychopathic sadist, begins. Thank you to NetGalley, Harold Schechter, and Little A for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer by Harold Schechter is a highly recommended account of a horrendous historical crime. In 1927 one of the worst mass murders in history occurred in Bath Michigan. On May 18th Andrew P. Kehoe set off a series of planned explosions at the Bath Consolidated School that killed 38 children and 6 adults. He also killed his wife, horses, and set fire to his farm. Then Kehoe loaded his truck with shrapnel and explosives and drove to Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer by Harold Schechter is a highly recommended account of a horrendous historical crime. In 1927 one of the worst mass murders in history occurred in Bath Michigan. On May 18th Andrew P. Kehoe set off a series of planned explosions at the Bath Consolidated School that killed 38 children and 6 adults. He also killed his wife, horses, and set fire to his farm. Then Kehoe loaded his truck with shrapnel and explosives and drove to the school. He called the school superintendent over to his truck and then blew up his truck, killing both of them while the shrapnel caused even more injuries to bystanders. It was clear in hindsight at the inquest, that Kehoe was an angry man. He was especially angry about the new property taxes levied to build the school. Kehoe was a local farmer and the school board treasurer. He was often called in to look at mechanical problems, so he had access to the school. He had purchased a huge quantity of explosives, dynamite and Pyrotol, to be used in his explosions. At the school he set the clock on his device to explode at 9:45 AM, when the school would be full of children. Shockingly, it was discovered that only part of his explosives actually exploded causing the north wing of the school to collapse rather than the entire building. Schechter does an excellent job setting the historical context of this account of one of the deadliest school massacres in U.S. history. For example, the explosion happened on the same day Charles Lindbergh took off in The Spirit of St. Louis. He also looks into the background of Kehoe, who was born on February 1, 1872. As the first son following six daughters, he was expected to excel. There were several early incidences that point to early indications of his mental state. Although there isn't much information about his life, Schechter presents what he uncovers leading up to the madness that lead to his abominable actions. This is a book that is sure to attract true crime readers. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Little A via Netgalley. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2021/0...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Francis

    Non-fiction is not something that I read often, but every now and again I find that I enjoy learning a bit more about the past than I did before. This time around I requested an ARC on Netgalley for Maniac by Harold Schechter. A piece of true crime about the first mass school bombing in the US: the 1927 Bath school disaster. Somehow true crime is an area that many people are interested in, however cruel it sometimes is. This is no different for me. I’d never heard of the Bath School Disaster befo Non-fiction is not something that I read often, but every now and again I find that I enjoy learning a bit more about the past than I did before. This time around I requested an ARC on Netgalley for Maniac by Harold Schechter. A piece of true crime about the first mass school bombing in the US: the 1927 Bath school disaster. Somehow true crime is an area that many people are interested in, however cruel it sometimes is. This is no different for me. I’d never heard of the Bath School Disaster before, but I was interested to find out what happened, and left shocked when I figured it out. Especially the theories behind the mass murder and the predictive nature of the situation for the future left me flabbergasted. Schechter describes the story from its very beginning, starting off even with the murderer’s family situation a while before he was born. Even though this did paint a very complete picture of the circumstances, I did sometimes feel that too many details that had nothing to do with the main story were included. The Lindbergh story that was intertwined with the rest to give an impression as to why the Bath murder story didn’t quite make the headlines was one example of that. Also, there were so many names that were not all that relevant to the story. I counted four people named Francis, by the way. All of whom died rather horribly at one point or another… And I’m not sure if this is very horrible for me to say, but I honestly wish there would have been images to support the story. Maybe not throughout the writing, since not everyone might want to see, but maybe at the end? I found myself Googling images of different situations throughout the book just to get a better picture of what was going on. Even though the disaster happened almost 100 years ago, there were many photos to support the story online.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I’d never heard of this tragedy, and the author is to be congratulated on writing such a detailed and well-researched account to bring it back into the public eye. What happened one day in Bath, Michigan in 1927 was one of the first and to this date most deadly school disaster in American history. Andrew Kehoe, disaffected and full of vengeance – and in my opinion quite obviously insane – although he had been a respected member of the community, planted explosives in the local school and killed I’d never heard of this tragedy, and the author is to be congratulated on writing such a detailed and well-researched account to bring it back into the public eye. What happened one day in Bath, Michigan in 1927 was one of the first and to this date most deadly school disaster in American history. Andrew Kehoe, disaffected and full of vengeance – and in my opinion quite obviously insane – although he had been a respected member of the community, planted explosives in the local school and killed 38 children and 6 adults. One family lost 3 children. He then blew himself up in a car bomb, taking 3 other adults with him. Absolutely horrific, and surprising that the events of that awful day are not more widely known. It’s a grim tale, and this is a gripping account. Chilling to think how an apparently “ordinary” citizen can become a monster - although we have seen many more in later decades. So I thoroughly enjoyed finding out about Kehoe and his actions, but I do have a gripe about the book. The author has chosen to describe other, less horrific, murders that happened around the same time, and then spends what I found to be an inordinate amount of time describing Lindbergh and his historic flight from New York to Paris, which seemed to me to have nothing at all to do with the Bath massacre, expect that it pushed it out of the headlines prematurely. So we get to learn what food Lindbergh took on his flight, but remarkably little about the subsequent life of those affected by the loss of their loved ones. A missed opportunity, and it all felt like padding to make the book longer. The dreadful events of that day didn’t need any padding. Therefore although I recommend the book I can’t rate it more highly than 3*.

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