2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 3 books toward her goal of 245 books.

Book Review: Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer by Harold Schechter

Oh my goodness but this was an engaging and disturbing story!

It was May 18, 1927. The school day started out normally – the school was beautiful and ahead of its time, as was the marvelous (relatively) new the principal, and the children were delighted that it was the last day of school. But for dozens of children and adults alike, the day would indeed be their last – and for the rest of the community, and the country, life would never be the same. For there was, indeed, a maniac in the small community of Bath, Michigan and on that otherwise ordinary morning, he sought his own paranoid, insane version of revenge on the town – and school – that he felt had done him wrong…

This is a dark and horrible tale about the evil that lives in the hearts and minds of men – or at least of paranoid men. Schechter has done a marvelous job presenting this story in an engaging style that is no less horrifying for its easy read. The story lays out the origins of the town and its consolidated school, and the way both were decimated on one sunny morning in May.

Like so many parents of a school-age child, I have been horrified and eerily obsessed with the stories about mass schools tragedies. They’re train wrecks, but you can’t look away – nor should you try. This first-in-class event was an absolutely horrific example of the twisted way that one person can destroy so many lives in a fit of madness. To me it is a double tragedy: first for the actual event itself, and only barely secondarily for the fact that its memory has largely been ignored and lost to history, dredged up only when something new and similarly horrifying happens. They say those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it, and that certainly seems to be the case here.

This was a tough one to read – as it should be. But I’m a firm believer in learning from the past, so think it’s one that deserves to be read by many, particularly in these increasingly paranoid, insane times…

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my obligation-free review copy.

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