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.
“In this gripping account, Schechter (Hell’s Princess) charts the descent of farmer Andrew Kehoe into madness…thorough research matches the assured prose. True crime buffs will want to take a look.” —Publishers Weekly
“The minute-by-minute account of the event and the firsthand reports create a strong sense of place and time and bring this chilling story to life…a vivid narrative that’s sure to please those interested in historical true crime tales.” —Library Journal
“Exhaustively researched but written in an accessible style, Schechter balances true crime, an immigration story, and a look at our fascination with true crimes, to spellbinding effect.” —Amazon Book Review
“A shocking but little-remembered tragedy unfolded at a primary school in Michigan one day in 1927—leaving 38 children and six adults dead. With careful research and captivating scenes, Schechter probes how echoes of the massacre reverberate even today.” —Newsweek
“Schechter delves into Kehoe’s life, along with the circumstances leading up to the bloodbath he wrought, and discusses other major news events of the time period that eclipsed coverage of the bombing. In his usual way, Schechter engrosses the reader without being sensationalist, and fans of his previous work would do well to pick this up.” —Booklist
“Maniac is a fascinating book by an author who shows real mastery of the true-crime genre. The story Schechter recounts is a difficult one to read, but the author’s intelligence and sensitivity make it one that’s well worth your time.” —NPR
“Rather than simply telling the story of what happened in Bath, Schechter looks much more deeply into the situation, what similarities we would see in our world today (tabloid stories, ‘murderabilia’ collectors, and people from nearby towns coming just to look at the devastation) as well as what was going on in the world in May of 1927 that may have had a large effect on the news coverage the Bath disaster did (and did not) receive…Schechter also looks closely at modern-day school shootings and what these events do and do not have in common with this almost century old precedent. Additionally, he examines some of the crimes referred to as ‘the crime of the century’ in pop culture, and how these crimes ‘measure up’ to Kehoe’s disastrous work in Bath…Far from focusing exclusively on the crime itself and the sadist who committed it, Schechter also brings the reader heart-warming stories of heroes and survivors in a beautiful and honorable way.” —The Nerd Daily
“Reading the story chronologically is as nerve-wracking as a page-turning thriller…Schechter doesn’t spend too much time attempting to psychoanalyze Kehoe; he’s more focused on our cultural response to such a monster in our midst.” —The American Conservative
“Schechter forensically recreates the family history and gradual unravelling of mass murderer Andrew Kehoe…For true crime lovers, this author has done his research.” —A Lee Woodruff Book Marks selection
“A concise, harrowing work of social history…Mr. Schechter does a worthy job with this dire saga, telling it in short, punchy chapters and placing it in a larger historical context.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Schechter pulls details from every conceivable news account, using them to present the victims as dimensional human beings. Readers experience that terrible day as many townspeople did…Maniac is both a comprehensive historical account of an American tragedy and a fitting reminder about the conditions that can create human time bombs.” —Psychology Today
Harold Schechter is an American true-crime writer who specializes in serial killers. Twice nominated for the Edgar Award, he is the author of the nonfiction books Fatal, Fiend, Bestial, Deviant, Deranged, Depraved, The Serial Killer Files, The Mad Sculptor, and Man-Eater; the Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men; the Amazon Original Stories collection Bloodlands; and Ripped from the Headlines. Schechter received his PhD in American literature from the State University of New York in Buffalo. A professor emeritus at Queens College, he is married to the poet Kimiko Hahn. For more information, visit www.haroldschechter.com.