Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Arnie Bernstein  

Pen Name: None

Genre: History Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1960 in Harvey, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Lives in Chicago. Raised in Park Forest, Niles & Morton Grove. High school at Niles West in Skokie, Illinois. Southern Illinois University, BA in Film Studies/Theater, Carbondale, Illinois; Columbia College, MA in Integrated Writing Program, Chicago, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Arnie Bernstein is a nonfiction writer based in Chicago. His book, ''Swastika Nation: Führers, Politicians, Mobsters and the Rise and Fall of the German American Bund'', is his newest book detailing a pro-Nazi movement that swept the United States in the 1930s. His critically acclaimed 2009 book ''Bath Massacre: America’s First School Bombing'', brought to light the forgotten story of a madman who detonated a rural Michigan school building on May 18, 1927, killing 38 children and six adults. Gregg Olsen, author of the New York Times best seller ''Starvation Heights'' praised the book, writing: “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.”Bernstein is the author of three books on Chicago history, which earned praise from the late United States Senator Paul Simon (D-Illinois) and Roger Ebert. In his introduction to Bernstein’s book ''The Movies Are: Carl Sandburg’s Film Reviews & Essays'', Ebert wrote: “Arnie Bernstein has performed an extraordinary accomplishment in bringing this book into being….(He) adds great knowledge and insight…providing background, orientation, historical information, helpful footnotes. This is a book that reopens a chapter of journalism and history that might have remained closed forever.”Bernstein has been interviewed by many media outlets, including ''The New York Times'', ''The Chicago Tribune'', ''National Public Radio'', ''BBC Radio'', television, documentaries and webcasts. He was honored for his work by the the State Library of Michigan and the Illinois State Library; and won grants and awards from The Puffin Foundation and Warner Brothers Studios. Bernstein is a member of The Author’s Guild, PEN, The Chicago Writer's Association, and The Society of Midland Authors. He is represented by Michele Rubin of Writers House, New York.Speaking engagements include presentations at DePaul University, the University of Chicago, Columbia College-Chicago, and many others. He has given speeches and served on panel discussions at the Chicago History Museum, the Illinois State Library, the Gene Siskel Film Center, as well as numerous public and private libraries, bookstores and reading groups.When it comes to philosophy, Arnie follows the words of notable sage Groucho Marx: “I must say I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a good book.”

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies
ISBN: 1613745753

Chicago Review Press. 2013

Ranging from the dawn of the silent era to today’s blockbusters and independent films, this revamped second edition chronicles the significant contributions by Chicago and Chicagoans to more than a century of American filmmaking. Among the Windy City’s unique honors in this history are the development of film technology by early major players Essanay Film Manufacturing Company and the Selig Polyscope Company the first African American–owned and operated film studios the birthplace of gore flicks the origination and growth of movie palaces and the importance of the Second City, Goodman, and Steppenwolf theaters as training grounds for the industry’s best comedic and dramatic talent. Readers will relish behind-the-scenes stories of local favorites like The Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as well as recent box office smashes like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Fully revised and updated, this premier guide to the Windy City’s history in the film industry features new profiles of film locations, more photographs, and exclusive interviews detailing all aspects of the moviemaking process, making it the perfect guide for film lovers and Chicago history buffs alike.

Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund
ISBN: 1250006716

St. Martin's Press. 2013

In the late 1930s, the German–American Bund, led by its popinjay dictator Fritz Kuhn, was a small but powerful national movement in pre-World War II America, determined to conquer the United States government with a fascist dictatorship. They met in private social halls and beer garden backrooms, gathered at private resorts and public rallies, developed their own version of the SS and Hitler Youth, published a national newspaper and―for a brief moment of their own imagined glory―seemed poised to make an impact on American politics.

But while the American Nazi leadership dreamed of their Swastika Nation, an amalgamation of politicians, a rising legal star, an ego-charged newspaper columnist, and denizens of the criminal underworld utilized their respective means and muscle to bring down the movement and its dreams of a United Reich States.

Swastika Nation by Arnie Bernstein is a story of bad guys, good guys, and a few guys who fell somewhere in-between. The rise and fall of Fritz Kuhn and his German-American Bund at the hands of these disparate fighters is a sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, and always compelling story from start to finish.

Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing
ISBN: 0472033468


"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 best-selling 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
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.

The Hoofs and Guns of the Storm: Chicago's Civil War Connections (Great Lakes Connections: The Civil War)
ISBN: 1893121062

Lake Claremont Pr. 2003

Explores Chicago's role in the Union's struggle toward victory in the Civil War and in Abraham Lincoln's bid for the Presidency and offers a guide to historic sites in the Chicago area.

Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100 Years of Chicago & the Movies (Illinois)
ISBN: 0964242621

Lake Claremont Pr. 1998

A history of filmmaking in Chicago offers inverviews with directors, actors, and writers tours of movie locations and historical sites, and looks at such American favorites as "Within Our Gates," "Hoop Dreams," and "My Best Friend's Wedding."

The Movies Are : Carl Sandburg's Film Reviews and Essays, 1920-1928
ISBN: 1893121054

Lake Claremont Pr. 2000

Book by Sandburg, Carl, Ebert, Roger


Author Honor

  • 2005 Honored at Illinois Authors Book Fair sponsored by the Illinois Center for the Book and the Illinois State Library in Springfield, Illinois
  • Hollywood on Lake Michigan

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Contact Arnie Bernstein at Arnie speaks with adult, high school, and middle school groups at schools, libraries, clubs, and bookstores. Topics include researching & writing nonfiction; Bath School bombing of 1927; Chicago and film; Chicago and Civil War/Lincoln. Limited engagements at this time; contact Arnie for more information.