4.4 542
by Dave Cullen

View All Available Formats & Editions

On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma-City style, and to leave "a lasting impression on the world." Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence-irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting "another Columbine." When we think of

…  See more details below


On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma-City style, and to leave "a lasting impression on the world." Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence-irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting "another Columbine." When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window — the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris, and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal. The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who came to stockpile a basement cache of weapons, to record their raging hatred, and to manipulate every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boy's tapes and diaries, he gives the first complete account of the Columbine tragedy. In the tradition of HELTER SKELTER and IN COLD BLOOD, COLUMBINE is destined to be a classic. A close-up portrait of hatred, a community rendered helpless, and the police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers-an unforgettable cautionary tale for our times.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Columbine -- it used to represent a lovely blue flower that grows in the West. Sadly, it now has a different, much darker legacy of terrified students and of a pair of killers who did away with themselves before they could answer any of our questions. Columbine has also come to stand for a flawed response by the authorities, and has spurred a whole new protocol for combating school violence. But what do we really know about what happened?

Way too little, according to Cullen, whose thrilling book was ten years in the making. And he should know. Cullen was on the scene from day one, and in the years since, has pored over hundreds of interviews, read 25,000 pages of evidence, and reviewed countless hours of video and audiotape. As a result, he's uniquely qualified to dispel many rumors that were reported as fact, and to offer a new explanation behind Harris and Klebold's deadly rampage.

Were the two boys outcasts or Goths? Did they really target jocks or Christians? How much planning did they do, and did anyone help? Was the same motivation driving both of them? Cullen brings to light new truths central to the attacks in a book that should be required reading for anyone who wants to make sure no other high school suffers the fate of the one in Littleton, Colorado. (Summer 2009 Selection)

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Sales rank:
File size:
3 MB

Read an Excerpt


By Dave Cullen

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2010 Dave Cullen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-446-54692-8

Chapter One

Mr. D

* * *

He told them he loved them. Each and every one of them. He spoke without notes but chose his words carefully. Frank DeAngelis waited out the pom-pom routines, the academic awards, and the student-made videos. After an hour of revelry, the short, middle-aged man strode across the gleaming basketball court to address his student body. He took his time. He smiled as he passed the marching band, the cheerleaders, and the Rebels logo painted beneath flowing banners proclaiming recent sports victories. He faced two thousand hyped-up high school students in the wooden bleachers and they gave him their full attention. Then he told them how much they meant to him. How his heart would break to lose just one of them.

It was a peculiar sentiment for an administrator to express to an assembly of teenagers. But Frank DeAngelis had been a coach longer than a principal, and he earnestly believed in motivation by candor. He had coached football and baseball for sixteen years, but he looked like a wrestler: compact body with the bearing of a Marine, but without the bluster. He tried to play down his coaching past, but he exuded it.

You could hear the fear in his voice. He didn't try to hide it, and he didn't try to fight back the tears that welled up in his eyes. And he got away with it. Those kids could sniff out a phony with one whiff and convey displeasure with snickers and fumbling and an audible current of unrest. But they adored Mr. D. He could say almost anything to his students, precisely because he did. He didn't hold back, he didn't sugarcoat it, and he didn't dumb it down. On Friday morning, April 16, 1999, Principal Frank DeAngelis was an utterly transparent man.

Every student in the gymnasium understood Mr. D's message. There were fewer than thirty-six hours until the junior-senior prom, meaning lots of drinking and lots of driving. Lecturing the kids would just provoke eye rolling, so instead he copped to three tragedies in his own life. His buddy from college had been killed in a motorcycle accident. "I can remember being in the waiting room, looking at his blood," he said. "So don't tell me it can't happen." He described holding his teenage daughter in his arms after her friend died in a flaming wreck. The hardest had been gathering the Columbine baseball team to tell them one of their buddies had lost control of his car. He choked up again. "I do not want to attend another memorial service."

"Look to your left," he told them. "Look to your right." He instructed them to study the smiling faces and then close their eyes and imagine one of them gone. He told them to repeat after him: "I am a valued member of Columbine High School. And I'm not in this alone." That's when he told them he loved them, as he always did.

"Open your eyes," he said. "I want to see each and every one of your bright, smiling faces again Monday morning."

He paused. "When you're thinking about doing something that could get you in trouble, remember, I care about you," he said. "I love you, but remember, I want us all together. We are one large family, we are-"

He left the phrase dangling. That was the students' signal. They leapt to their feet and yelled: "COL-um-BINE!"

Ivory Moore, a dynamo of a teacher and a crowd rouser, ran out and yelled, "We are COL-um-BINE."


It was louder now, and their fists were pumping in the air.




"COL-um-BINE!" Louder, faster, harder, faster-he whipped them into a frenzy. Then he let them go.

They spilled into the hallways to wrap up one last day of classes. Just a few hours until the big weekend.

* * *

All two thousand students would return safely on Monday morning, after the prom. But the following afternoon, Tuesday, April 20, 1999, twenty-four of Mr. D's kids and faculty members would be loaded into ambulances and rushed to hospitals. Thirteen bodies would remain in the building and two more on the grounds. It would be the worst school shooting in American history-a characterization that would have appalled the boys just then finalizing their plans.


Excerpted from Columbine by Dave Cullen Copyright © 2010 by Dave Cullen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Columbine 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 542 reviews.
Randy_Brown More than 1 year ago
I have just read the book by Dave Cullen on Columbine. I was angry at first, and then just disappointed. The bullying, which is such a large part of Columbine, is dismissed by the FBI agent and the author, and that glaring omission changes the story of Columbine to a work of fiction. Perhaps the author should have read the Regina Huerter Report. To leave this major part of the tragedy out of the story is to rewrite history. That is what this book is, a revisionist version of the Columbine Tragedy, which leads the reader to believe so many falsehoods that, upon completion of the book, I even questioned all of the things I know to be facts. I even questioned my knowledge of Columbine, and I lived it. This book, and the stories in it, will change the way people look at Columbine, and it will forever confuse researchers and lead them down false paths that are not the real truth. As a Columbine parent, I find this book repulsive, for the main reason that it rewrites the Columbine tragedy. The author owes the public an attempt to tell the true story about Columbine, not an agenda influenced version based on the stories of two policemen and some incomplete research. I am disgusted, discouraged, and disappointed. and sorry that this book fails the people of Columbine in so many ways. I am mostly sad that some reader will read it in 3 years or 25 years, and think that this is the truth. They will be very wrong. But, the biggest problem I have with the book is the easy summary that the author and his expert arrive at: Eric was just crazy. That is so easy it is banal. That is so easy and so convenient. If the one of the killers was crazy, then we can all relax. It is beyond our power to change it. It is an act of God, and craziness stands as the panacea for all of the worried parents. "Crazy" means that we do not need to acknowledge our part in this tragedy. We do not need to acknowledge our violent world, the environment of bullying and humiliation in the school, the alienation, the loneliness, the depression, the failures of the psychologists and counselors before Columbine and the pain. We do not have to change. We do not have to try to stop the next school shooting, because you can't stop "crazy." Crazy is easy. Self analysis and acknowledging our failures is very difficult and very painful. How will we ever learn from this, and stop the next school shooter, if crazy is the final analysis? This is a revisionist story about Columbine that does not acknowledge the many truths about the Columbine tragedy, which actually dismisses the real cause of the tragedy, in print for the parents, principals, psychologists, counselors and others to read. This Columbine story, told by an outsider without the complicated and multiple causative factors explained, leaves the reader with a misconception that will last forever. Randy Brown A Columbine Parent
RWL-Sociologist More than 1 year ago
Dave Cullen's book, Columbine, has been receiving a great deal of media coverage. For the most part, reviewers are accepting his explanations of the causes of the Columbine shootings as rooted in the psychopathology of the two shooters. The book contains numerous problems, the first of which is that Mr. Cullen goes well beyond the facts of the case to produce an almost novelistic approach to the shootings. He gives Erik Harris a sex life that that has no verification; he gives them emotions that are impossible to know; he attributes sophisticated knowledge of architecture to the two shooters in the placement of the bombs for which there is no evidence. Worst of all, he ignores an existing trail of evidence of rampant bullying at Columbine High School, eyewitness evidence of public humiliations of Klebold and Harris by members of the football team, and statements of the boys both before and during the assault of their intentions to target the so-called jocks. Their videotapes and their writings were obsessed with gaining retribution against jocks. Instead, Cullen, who was heavily influenced by FBI profiler Dwayne Fusilier, labeled Harris a "psychopath," and Klebold "a depressive," and attributed the shootings to their mental disorders. This is psychological reductionism at its worst, not to mention the fact that victims of bullies often experience depression. People unfamiliar with the details of the Columbine massacre focus on the randomness of the shootings and Erik Harris's rants on the Trenchcoat Mafia website that he created, suggesting that he hated everybody equally as evidence that the shootings were not about jocks or bullying. This is a mistake. First, the boys' motives were complex. That they wanted to kill jocks is incontrovertibly true. They placed the bombs in the cafeteria not because their location would bring down the ceiling, as stated by Dave Cullen, but because they placed the bombs underneath the table where the jocks always sat. The fact that the bombs did not go off saved a large portion of the football team. Second, as local and FBI investigators pointed out, one reason for carrying out the massacre was to become media celebrities and, as Erik Harris said in the basement tapes, to "kickstart a revolution" of oppressed students like himself. Third, the boys were heavily influenced by paramilitary and gun cultures, which stress dying in a blaze of glory, which they certainly seem to have done. Fourth, and ignored by many investigators, was the fact that Klebold and Harris also hated evangelical Christian students attending Columbine High School who constituted themselves as a moral elite and who went around telling outcast students that if they did not change their ways, accept Jesus as their Savior, and become born again, they would burn in hell. Jocks and evangelical Christians were their particular hatreds. However, they hated the whole system of social relations at Columbine High School in which they were despised, defined as lesser humans, and subjected to predatory actions. The attitude of a large portion of Columbine students was that because they dressed differently, did not have sufficient school spirit, and acted differently than their peers, they deserved what they received at the hands of the jocks, who regarded themselves as the defenders of the hypermasculine norms of the school.
LucilleCO More than 1 year ago
I live in the Columbine Community. I have been intricately involved with numerous people who were in the school, injured, or who lost children. I also have a counseling practice one mile south of the school so I drive by the school almost every day. I have lived in Littleton for over 20 years and think a little bit of Heaven resides here. When I started reading the galley for this book, I wasn't sure I had the stomach for it. I was sure it was going to be a lot of hype. I even wondered if the killers would be glamorized. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised: Yes, the book is very difficult to read at times -- Dave provides ten years worth of grueling detail. But what made this book impossible to set down was the way it answered so many of the questions that were raised (What exactly happened April 20, 1999? Were the killers bullied? Did they target jocks? What was Dylan and Eric's ultimate plan and how did it fail so miserably? What did law enforcement learn? Can this type of tragedy be prevented?). It would be impossible for some not to be offended by this book, but it won't be because Dave didn't do a meticulous job of providing the detail and letting readers draw their own conclusions. The saddest part of living in Littleton these past ten years has been watching the post-traumatic stress (PTSD) literally play itself out an entire community. When the killers took their lives, they left no where for us to lay our rage and blame. Lots of good things stories fill this book. I am so proud of the heroes Dave depicts. People whose lives should have been left in shambles, carried on in Herculean ways. It reminds me that all of us have choices to become bitter or better in the face of trauma. As if the amount of information alone wasn't enough to make this book a bestseller, Dave is an extremely gifted writer and it would be surprising if this book didn't win literary awards.
quadrophenia More than 1 year ago
Upon reading Dave Cullen's Columbine I was taken by surprise to find out that Mr. Cullen bills himself as a journalist. There are so many assumptions and just outright falsities here that one would think that they were reading a work of fiction. Cullen states in page one of chapter two that Columbine killer Eric Harris was on a rung of the high school social ladder just above the jocks. "He got chicks. Lots and lots of chicks," Cullen writes. I am not sure where Mr. Cullen gets his information, as this bit of bad journalism doesn't list a source in the end-notes, but everything known about Harris, from the people who were closest to him right down to his own journal writings would say differently. Cullen also plays fast and loose with other facts--giving emotions to the killers that no one could possibly know unless they were there with them. Saying that Harris buddy and co-Columbine murderer Dylan Klebold lost his nerve in the cafeteria--or that Eric stuck with him during the shootings to keep him focused on the job at hand. This is most certainly not the definitive work on the subject. And to call it a work of investigative journalism is just an outright lie. Call it a dramatization. Or a work of fiction. As a reader I thought the days of James Frey were passed us.
AvidreaderNV More than 1 year ago
This book is very well written and hard to put down. It took ten years to write and the work shows in the book. I wonder if most readers will understand the magnitude of the job. I haven't read too much on Columbine (except for Brooks Brown's memior), but from what I read here, there is a massive amount of documents from the investigation, aside from all of the background information on the killers and their psychological profiles. It sounds like Mr. Cullen immersed himself in this story for the last ten years, interviewing people, attending the different churches and studying the evidence. I found it all fascinating. I think Randy Brown missed the whole scope of this book. Cullen does mention that bullying was a problem. Regardless, Eric Harris would have killed anyway. I read somewhere that it wasn't a matter of if, but when. It was also said that had he waited until he was older and better financed it could have been much worse. I think that Mr. Brown is very caught up in the version of the tragedy his family experienced. His son's book was pretty one dimensional. He's so caught up in the bully angle, he doesn't want to look any further. I hope they did address the problem of bullying at Columbine. I know that most schools have and have instituted a zero tolerance policy on bullying. I think that was a good thing to come out of this tragedy. Also, Mr. Cullen does talk about how to "fix" or treat psychopaths. Unfortunately, not much works. I feel that Dylan could have taken a different path if he did not get involved with Eric. Maybe that is the lessen - be careful who your kids are friends with. Mr. Brown should be grateful that his son, although friends with Eric and apparently bullied in the past, did not go down that same path. The point Mr. Cullen makes is that kids are bullied, not all of them end up as mass murderers.
KrisPA More than 1 year ago
I don't remember much about Columbine because I was in college when it happened and tvs weren't as accessible in the dorms as they are now. I bought this book because I was fascinated by the research that went into the book--and there was a lot of it. The focus of the book is divided between the community/families of the victims and the victims and the two shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. I was surprised to learn that the police dept and county officials (Cullen abbreviates them into "Jeffco") hid so much from the public and, had not a lot of errors occurred, it's possible to argue that Dylan and Eric's violent actions may have been thwarted. A lot of myths (some I was unfamiliar with) were dispelled: the notion that the boys were taking revenge on jocks for being bullied, that they were members of a so-called Trenchcoat Mafia,etc. What I found most fascinating was the detailed research into the psyches of Dylan and Eric. I am incredibly interested in abnormal psychology and found the discussion of Eric as a classic sadistic psychopath and Dylan as a depressive to be the most absorbing part of the book. This book is an interesting and compelling read. I am curious about the negative review written by the Columbine parent. I do not think this person actually read the book. Cullen wrote about Columbine specifically and made no generalizations about bullying and school violence. In fact, the two shooters were bullies, not the bullied. Also, he never described either of the boys as "crazy." He used clinical terms and never once excused their behavior. In fact, he took pains to make the reader understand that being diagnosed as a psychopath does not mean you are incapable of controlling your behavior (such as a schizophrenic) but that you know your actions are harmful and wrong, but you do not care. Cullen got his information from many sources, much of it from the surviving victims and/or families themselves. He has several pages of citation at the end of the book and extensive notes. I don't think he ever meant to make any general statement about school violence--either regarding what causes it or how to deal with it. This book is about the massacre at Columbine in 1999 and its consequences. Dylan and Eric had reasons for what they did, but just because they are not convenient and tidy (being bullied by jocks or bad family life) or "normal" doesn't mean they are fictional or fabricated by the author. They had their reasons and even though the average human with a healthy/normal emotional/mental state cannot fathom them, that doesn't make their reasons any less real.
NonFicVic More than 1 year ago
We watched it unfold in our living rooms, horrified as we listened to the pundits analyze and pontificate with half-truth's and rumor that soon became fact. We read the papers and believed we knew the what and why that was Columbine. Unfortunately the reality of the madness that happened on April 22, 1999 has been obscured by political infighting, mishandling of evidence, sloppy and incredibly inept police work, and most of all, the media. After reading this book I was amazed at the complexity of the case and the misinformation that still passes for "truth." Like many I thought these two boys were bullied and hounded into revenge. The "Trench Coat Mafia" pushed into it by abuse and teasing from peers. That is not the case. The depth with which Dave Cullen delves into the minds of Eric and Dylan makes for a great read and and even better analysis of how our media distorts everything. For the first time we are given a complete glimpse into the events and the personalities surrounding Columbine. The timeline. The players. It is as thorough an analysis as has ever been written about the subject and will probably be the definitive one as well. I only wish the parents of Eric and Dylan had opened up more about their sons, but that's not Cullen's fault and certainly not for lack of trying. One of the things I love about non-fiction are the photos in the book that show the key events and players. I use them as a reference to make the story more personal. Alas, there are no photos here. My disappointment with that was short-lived because the book examines the event in a depth that takes the reader beyond the hype and into the minds of these two boys to flesh out a motive with an astonishing report into who they were and why they did it. I highly recommend this book to those wishing a thorough insight into what made Columbine happen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am still reading the book (it is nearly 400 pages), yet cannot seem to put it down. It is the best book I have come across on this topic; it goes thoroughly in-depth into the events and emotions of the people who were affected by the Columbine tragedy. The research took about 9 years, and clearly states what is fact, an actual quote, etc. It is a book that provides great detail and yet is a book that reads fluently. I recommend this to anyone who has questions or uncertainty regarding the event...because the research is pnenomenal and puts everything in place for the reader to understand. The author spent much time on this project and it shows. Excellent piece of writing!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. Who knows if it's the definitive work on Columbine, but it's certainly the best book I've read on the subject. Gotta love Randy Brown's review. Guess he didn't like the way his family was portrayed in the book. I'm sure that and the fact his son also wrote a book about Columbine have nothing to do with it...
hall_monitor More than 1 year ago
If you find yourself buying one book this year, it should be Dave Cullen's Columbine. The events on the fatal day have forever shaped the way we discuss school violence, safety, dress code, and a handful of other policies. The author digs deep into the minds of the killers, their classmates, the police, and the entire community in his detailed, graphic account of this unfortunate day in our history. It is obvious that Cullen left no stone unturned in his research, and delivered a final product that needs to be read by anyone who has ever associated themselves with a public school. Hall Monitor
debra33lynn More than 1 year ago
this book was something i wanted to read so i could understand what really happened. i learned alot. it was really well written. it was hard to get through as it was so sad and sometimes so draining. it took awhile to read because i just had to put it down and do other things so i wouldnt think about it to much. overall im glad i read it, but not for light reading.
canto More than 1 year ago
Dave Cullen has spent 10 years immersed in the Columbine tragedy. After interviewing countless witnesses, psychiatrists, victims and law-enforcement officials Mr. Cullen makes a believer of this reader that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold committed the murders because Eric was a full-blown psychopath at the tender age of 18 who goaded Dylan's depression and anger, and Dylan was a severely depressed and angry young man who filled Eric's need for stimulation. Reading this book is something like watching a poisonous snake--it's scary yet so fascinating that it is mesmerizing. Cullen writes in a very fair and unprejudicial manner (except when he talks about the various fundamentalist Christian reactions where it feels like he is a bit mocking and judgmental). All in all, I couldn't put it down and read it in one Saturday afternoon. I stop short of saying it was "enjoyable" (due to its subject matter), but very plausible and engrossing.
emacat More than 1 year ago
As someone who has always been interested in the Columbine shootings, I debated purchasing this book. I've read many of the articles, interviews, and even the Jeffco report on the shootings. Fortunately, I did decide to buy it, and spent several days consumed by this book. As a parent, it's a terrifying, informative read. That things can happen to your children even in an environment that should be safe is frightening. Worse, the realization that Eric, obviously an intelligent psychopath, could manipulate the adults around him with such ease makes the reader take another look at the children around them. This is an enthralling narrative, skillfully written by Dave Cullen. He has worked on this for ten years, first as a journalist, then preparing to write this book. I found the FBI psychologist's opinions especially insightful. Through the book, we are presented with the killers thoughts from the infamous "basement tapes" and journals, their friends, from the point of view from several survivors and their families, and also from the victim's families. We read about Wayne Harris's notebook of his attempts to discipline Eric, of how the murderer skillfully conned his parents, his counselors, his teachers. Of Dylan, the murderer that was far less self-controlled, more interested in suicide according to his journals. Heartbreaking, yet fascinating. One thing I would add is a comment after seeing Randy Brown's review. With all due respect to Mr. Brown, these murderers clearly did not kill out of bullying. While that certainly went on at Columbine, and does at most schools, it is very clear from the journals, the tapes, and the friends' interviews that Eric and Dylan were not being bullied. They WERE the bullies. Dylan in particular discussed in his journal about bullying others. Eric's harassment of Mr. Brown's son, Brooks, is also a clear indicator that he was a bully. Busting car windows, threatening several times to kill Brooks, etc. I think the book explains that very well, and I have also read some of the interviews, etc. myself. The being bullied concept was a rumor created while the assailants were still in the school, and not known. If you are interested in this tragic shooting, this book is a must read for you.
Bachelorman More than 1 year ago
When it comes to the Columbine massacre, maybe the Firesign Theatre said it best: "Everything You Know Is Wrong." Well, a whole lot of it, anyway. Dave Cullen was one of the reporters covering the story when it happened, and has spent ten years - yes, it's been ten years - painstakingly researching every aspect of the case. It was ten years very well spent, because we finally get a true picture of what really went on before, during and after the tragedy. We get a very clear idea of just who Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were, and to say they were not the poor little picked on members of something called the Trenchcoat Mafia is an understatement. The psychology goes much deeper than tabloid hungry mainstream media outlets were willing to dig. But Cullen does that digging, and we're fascinated by a picture of how a community - and a nation - react to such a senseless, brutal crime spree in its midst. The individual stories will inspire you, enrage you, sadden you and ultimately enlighten you. This is not a sensationalistic true crime knock off - those don't take ten years to research and write. This is a serious, important work that will keep you riveted to every page. It may only be March, but this will rank as one of the best books of the year.
Shadowlane More than 1 year ago
While I've read, and to some point understand the negative reviews, I can't help but think that this was an extremely well done book. Yes, it has moments where the author attributes emotions and actions to the killers that we can't truly ever know, he takes a great deal from their own writings and videos, much of which, the public at large still doesn't have easy access to. I can understand people wanting to make this tragic incident a clear cut case of bullying or psychopathy, the truth is, we will never know what truly went through the minds of the two boys. All we have is what was left behind, and Mr. Cullen does a great job of putting that information out there in an easy-to-read (not always emotionally easy) and straight-forward manner.
killshot71 More than 1 year ago
Wow! Do I feel stupid. Ten years after the killings at Columbine and I didn't have a clue about what went on that terrible day until I read this book. Dave Cullen painstakingly researched and expertly crafted this compelling story of two teens, one a psychopath the other suicidal, who opened fire on their friends and neighbors, killing thirteen. The story shocked a nation and forever changed how we perceived school shooters. Unfortunately, the story was wrong. Dave Cullen presents the facts you may not have heard, and worse for Americans, those that were there all along but we chose to ignore. Goths? No. Trench Coat Mafia? No. Loners? Losers? Outsiders? No, no, no. These boys were smart and popular, but determined to end their lives in front of the national media in the most horrific way possible. They planted four large explosives, consisting of gasoline jugs and two propane tanks each. Two they cavalierly planted in the middle of the cafeteria, against the support columns, timed to explode during the busiest rush of the day. Two others they left in their cars in the parking lot to kill any emergency responders and survivors who would have assembled there. A fifth explosive was set in a field timed to lure police away from the high school and delay their response. All five bombs fizzled! Only the one in the field ignited at all, but it caused only a small brush fire and actually served to ready police in the key moments before the 911 calls started coming in. Cullen also details a sheriff's office that hid the facts and delayed the release of key evidence and reports. And the media who opted to write their own story in the absence of the truth. Dave Cullen shows that in addition to the tragedy of fifteen deaths that day, is the tragedy of how readily the public accepted the archetypical explanation of what happened. I found this read to be fair and sympathetic to those who were affected by the killings and those who were powerless to prevent it. Even the infamous Sheriff John Stone is balanced by the expertise and professionalism of Agent Dwayne Fuselier. Each page kept me hungering for more and the writing was vivid and approachable. I highly recommend it!
PRD_NC More than 1 year ago
This very well written book is a study in youth, parenting, and an event that redefined the unimaginable. The authors leave it up to the reader to assess blame which is as it should be. Each character in the book is studied in detail that lets the reader imagine being there ... from the killers to the parents to the victims. The story is compete from well before the murders to the final financial settlements and how lives resumed, as best they could, after the "dust settled". Lives are handled as compassionately as possible while the facts and events are laid out with no bias - in some cases, minute by minute. Simply put, Columbine is the story of our worst nightmare come true ... students, parents, victims, teachers, faculty, law enforcement, news media and the community. Though very gruesome in segment, the story, not the writing, is a complete history of the tragedy. I came away realizing that the vast media coverage from television on site to the daily newspaper coverage, magazine articles and follow up TV programs, only covered the surface. It is a must read for anyone interested in the contemporary history of the event and time. A Columbine is the State flower of Colorado, beautiful in contrast to what the word has come to mean.
acoftenreads More than 1 year ago
I thought this book would be an interesting read, but I had no expectation that I would be unable to put it down. In a horrifyingly detailed retelling of the events leading up to, during, and following this tragedy, Mr. Cullen exposes the true human weaknesses and darknesses that should terrify anyone who thinks they know the true nature of another person. The boys who committed these acts, and the people around them who could have prevented them from occurring, demonstrate the fragility of the mind and the depths to which a soul can descend. Truly frightening for anyone who has ever been in a position of being, knowing, or observing an adolescent with a secret.
Buckie More than 1 year ago
I found Columbine by Dave Cullen to be highly informative, well researched, and a great read. The depth of his research into the minds of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold was astounding. They seem to come alive on the pages of the book and you could almost see them as they made the plans for the final day. I had always beleived that they were picked on and teased by others in the school but reading Mr. Cullen's book brings the misconceptions, misinformation, inept investigations and everything else to light and I think it also shows the correct version of the facts of the case. I never realized that had Eric's plans gone the way they were supposed to there would have been a larger number of deaths and people injured. Thankfully his plans did not all work. My heart goes out to all the parents of all the kids at Columbine including the Harris' and the Klebolds. This book is a must read for everyone to help understand what happened at Columbine and to maybe learn what to look for in the future because there are signals as Dave Cullen shows with Dylan and his creative writing Class. We learn by education and reading. Thanks Mr. Cullen for a well written book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every teacher should put this book on their personal required reading list.
Lollypop99 More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read. I purchased it on a Sunday morning and could not put it down until 17 hours later when I finished reading it. It's a page turner because you find that everything you thought you knew about Columbine and the young men who planned it is completely wrong. Before reading this book, I hated the parents, I could not understand how they did not know this was happening with their children, but, we as parents can easily be fooled and that is what happened here. This is a must read for anyone who thinks they know what happened at Columbine from listening to the news and reading the local paper. The courage of some of the survivors is extraordinary and I felt humbled by their quest to gain some semblance of life back. The author took 10 years of research to write this book and you can tell from the first page on. Buy this book, you will not be sorry. If you cannot afford to buy it, email me and I will send you my copy. This is a must read. Lolly Hellman
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a behemoth of a book and I couldn't put it down. I'm only too grateful to have the Nook version instead of a hardback; I can't imagine having to hoist it up in bed to read or feeling the weight of such a thing slam against my face (because I frequently fall asleep reading). Anyway, any book that keeps me riveted the way this one did gets my five star rating. Exhaustive account, not only of the perpetrators but of the families and victims. I honestly do not understand the naysayers. I felt this was pretty unbiased reporting. A compelling read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This bok is very unimotional. In fact, it may even be cruel, but I liked it. Not what it is, but the information on how this horrible event played out. If your looking for a book reviewing the emotional side of things get something else though.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
WOW! I thought I knew basically what transpired during the assault of Columbine High School in April of 1999. I could not have been more mistaken! Dave Cullen, who has followed the story from the beginning, reveals many underlying fallacies in our 'knowledge.' First, it was not a case of 'getting back' at a few individuals or a group that had wronged the perpetrators (Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold). Instead it was a carefully planned attempt to wipe out all the 'drones' who inhabited Columbine High. The police had several clear warning signs beforehand about the perpetrators intentions but chose to ignore them, and later to hide (or lose) the information to avoid culpability. The perpetrator's parents; loving' caring, but ultimately remaining inactive or waiting for the 'system' to curb the burgeoning psychopathology of the two boys. The media choosing to ignore the truth often to 'sell' the story. And how they ultimately hindered the healing process. An amazing look at a situation that could have been headed off, if only... The book does not seek to lay blame on any of the above (or anyone else for that matter). It just tries to set the record straight. Who (you'll be surprised at the number of people that were aware and/or involved but ignored the perpetrators or did nothing). What (not a simple revenge plot but a thought out attempt to exterminate as many people as possible). When (a trail of information spanning years before the assault). Where (it can't really happen here). But most of all, WHY? Cullen spends a good amount of time chronicling the aftermath of the assault. How can any group deal and forgive the perpetrators and get on with life? And the victims. The ongoing terror and uncertainty of life after the assaults. Healing (physically, spiritually, and emotionally) that never seems to end. This not an easy read. It is not meant to glorify or remove responsibility from the perpetrators. There is much that has been learned from the horrible events in Columbine. Let us hope (and pray) that if anything, some good can come of the events in April 1999 that horrified us all.
HoodooDoll More than 1 year ago
A subject like the killings at Columbine High School is not something to be taken lightly by reader or writer. It is serious, controversial and highly charged with emotion and pain. Dave Cullen managed to tackle the challenge of writing *the* comprehensive book on this subject with impeccable research, a clear reporting of the facts, and deep compassion for everyone involved in the tragedy, including the parents of the two killers. His involvement with the story from day one gave him a great perspective, and it seems like the families of all involved gave him interviews and information they might not have shared with someone else. I will not say that this book is easy to read, either from a technical standpoint or an emotional one. It is, however, an excellent book that I really enjoyed, mainly because I'm someone who is interested in the psychology and motivations behind this type of crime. I don't know if anyone would ever want this as their book club's selection of the week, but it is very provocative, intelligent, thoughtful reading. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down.