Columbine
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Columbine

4.4 81
by Dave Cullen
     
 

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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, irrevocable branding every subsequent shooting "another columbine."

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Overview

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, irrevocable 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 the 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 were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating 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 boys' tapes and diaries, he gives the first complete account of the Columbine tragedy.

Editorial Reviews

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"A staggering achievement, ...Rather than burden the deftly written prose with excessive footnotes, Cullen wisely includes a detailed timeline, bibliography and lengthy notes in the back of the book. The 417-page COLUMBINE tears open old wounds but does so with an aching, unflinching clarity that's only possible with hindsight . . . admirable, harrowing work . . . one of the finer nonfiction efforts thus far in 2009."
CNN
"While tackling popular misconceptions, Cullen gives a riveting account of what happened that day and how the survivors view the event that marked their lives forever."
Jennifer Senior - The New York Times Book Review
"COLUMBINE is an excellent work of media criticism, showing how legends become truths through continual citation; a sensitive guide to the patterns of public grief, ... a fine example of old fashioned journalism . . . moving things along with agility and grace."
New York Magazine
"What [Columbine] captures better than any other reporting is the confusion and fear that come from an inability to make sense of something that has no reason, no cause, no source-confusion and fear that can lead to damaging misinformation and lasting fictions."
Seattle Weekly
"Comprehensively reported . . . Cullen scrupulously interpolates the interrupted lives of students, teachers, and lawmen."
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)
Jennifer Senior
It's to his credit that Cullen…makes the reader care about getting it right. Columbine is an excellent work of media criticism, showing how legends become truths through continual citation; a sensitive guide to the patterns of public grief, foreshadowing many of the same reactions to Sept. 11 (lawsuits, arguments about the memorial, voyeuristic bus tours); and, at the end of the day, a fine example of old-fashioned journalism. While Cullen's storytelling doesn't approach the novelistic beauty of In Cold Blood (an unfair standard, perhaps, but an unavoidable comparison for a murder story this detailed), he writes well enough, moving things along with agility and grace.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In this remarkable account of the April 20, 1999, Columbine High School shooting, journalist Cullen not only dispels several of the prevailing myths about the event but tackles the hardest question of all: why did it happen? Drawing on extensive interviews, police reports and his own reporting, Cullen meticulously pieces together what happened when 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 13 people before turning their guns on themselves. The media spin was that specific students, namely jocks, were targeted and that Dylan and Eric were members of the Trench Coat Mafia. According to Cullen, they lived apparently normal lives, but under the surface lay "an angry, erratic depressive" (Klebold) and "a sadistic psychopath" (Harris), together forming a "combustible pair." They planned the massacre for a year, outlining their intentions for massive carnage in extensive journals and video diaries. Cullen expertly balances the psychological analysis-enhanced by several of the nation's leading experts on psychopathology-with an examination of the shooting's effects on survivors, victims' families and the Columbine community. Readers will come away from Cullen's unflinching account with a deeper understanding of what drove these boys to kill, even if the answers aren't easy to stomach. (Apr. 6)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Relying on more than ten years of research, award-winning journalist Cullen (www.davecullen.com) here pieces together a stunning, authoritative, full-scope view of the Columbine tragedy, reaching powerful and controversial conclusions and revealing several facts previously unknown to the public. Don Leslie (The 48 Laws of Power) reads with both sensation and objectivity, escalating emotion during the often graphic diary passages and helping the story to flow. However, the narrative's continual jumping back and forth in time may confuse listeners. For Ann Rule and Jon Krakauer fans. [The Twelve: Hachette hc, a New York Times best seller, was recommended as "definitely worth reading despite the disjointed narrative," LJ 3/15/09.—Ed.]—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.."We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened," writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school's main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers' cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal "The Book of God" and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold's frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author's distracting tendency to weave the killers'expressions into his sentences—for example, "The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass." Cullen is better at depicting the attack's aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy..Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.
Gary Krist
Exhaustive and supremely level-headed . . . The ways in which the Columbine story became distorted in the retelling make for one of the most fascinating aspects of Cullen's book . . . Hopping back and forth in time, Cullen manages to tell this complicated story with remarkable clarity and coherence. As one of the first reporters on the scene in 1999, he has been studying this event firsthand for a decade, and his book exudes a sense of authority missing from much of the original media coverage. ...Cullen strikes just the right tone of tough-minded compassion, for the most part steering clear of melodrama, sermonizing and easy answers.
Washington Post
LA Times
"Comprehensive...It's a book that hits you like a crime scene photo, a reminder of what journalism at its best is all about. Cullen knows his material from the inside; he covered Columbine, for Salon and Slate primarily, 'beginning around noon on the day of the attack.' But if this gives him a certain purchase on the story, his perspective is what resonates."
Charlotte Observer
COLUMBINE is a remarkable achievement. Cullen has brought illumination to a dark and difficult topic, and the result is an example of literary nonfiction at its finest: masterful, clear-eyed, bold - and unforgettable."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Cullen's book is a nerve-wracking, methodical and panoramic account...COLUMBINE has its terrifying sections, particularly during Cullen's minute-by-minute rendering of the chaotic 49-minute assault. He puts us inside and outside the building, and he captures the disbelief viewers experienced in 'almost witnessing mass murder' live on television."
The New York Observer
"A gripping study . . . To his credit, Mr. Cullen does not simply tear down Columbine's legends. He also convincingly explains what really sparked the murderous rage . . . disquieting . . . beautifully written."
The Seattle Times
"A remarkable book. It is painstakingly reported, well-organized and compellingly written . . . For any reader who wants to understand the complicated nature of evil, this book is a masterpiece."
Time
"Comprehensively nightmarish . . . Cullen's task is difficult not only because the events in question are almost literally unspeakable but also because even as he tells the story of a massacre that took the lives of 15 people, including the killers, he has to untell the stories that have already been told . . . Should this story be told at all? There's an element of sick, voyeuristic fascination to it--we don't need an exercise in disaster porn. But Columbine is a necessary book. . . . The actual events of April 20, 1999, are exactly as appalling as you'd expect, and Cullen doesn't spare us a second of them."
Gary Krist - Washington Post
"Exhaustive and supremely level-headed . . . The ways in which the Columbine story became distorted in the retelling make for one of the most fascinating aspects of Cullen's book . . . Hopping back and forth in time, Cullen manages to tell this complicated story with remarkable clarity and coherence. As one of the first reporters on the scene in 1999, he has been studying this event firsthand for a decade, and his book exudes a sense of authority missing from much of the original media coverage. ...Cullen strikes just the right tone of tough-minded compassion, for the most part steering clear of melodrama, sermonizing and easy answers."
Newsday
While the details of the day are indeed gruesome, Cullen neither embellishes nor sensationalizes. His unadorned prose and staccato sections offer welcome relief from the grisly minutiae... Cullen's honor and reporting skills propel this book beyond tabloid and into true literature."
Newsweek
"The definitive account, [of the tragedy] will likely be Dave Cullen's COLUMBINE, a nonfiction book that has the pacing of an action movie and the complexity of a Shakespearean drama . . . Cullen has a gift, if that's the right word, for excruciating detail. At times the language is so vivid you can almost smell the gunpowder and the fear."
Salon
"A chilling page-turner, a striking accomplishment given that Cullen's likely readers almost certainly know how the tragic story ends...I knew Cullen was a dogged reporter and a terrific writer, but even I was blown away by the pacing and story-telling he mastered in Columbine, a disturbing, inspiring work of art."
Jennifer Senior - The New York Times Review of Books
"COLUMBINE is an excellent work of media criticism, showing how legends become truths through continual citation; a sensitive guide to the patterns of public grief, foreshadowing many of the reactions to Sept. 11 (lawsuits, arguments about the memorial, voyeuristic bus tours); and, at the end of the day, a fine example of old fashioned journalism . . . moving things along with agility and grace."
From the Publisher
"In this remarkable account of the April 20, 1999, Columbine High School shooting, journalist Cullen not only dispels several of the prevailing myths about the event but tackles the hardest question of all: why did it happen? Drawing on extensive interviews, police reports and his own reporting, Cullen meticulously pieces together what happened when 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 13 people before turning their guns on themselves.... Cullen expertly balances the psychological analysis-enhanced by several of the nation's leading experts on psychopathology-with an examination of the shooting's effects on survivors, victims' families and the Columbine community. Readers will come away from Cullen's unflinching account with a deeper understanding of what drove these boys to kill, even if the answers aren't easy to stomach."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Reivew"

Comprehensive...It's a book that hits you like a crime scene photo, a reminder of what journalism at its best is all about. Cullen knows his material from the inside; he covered Columbine, for Salon and Slate primarily, 'beginning around noon on the day of the attack.' But if this gives him a certain purchase on the story, his perspective is what resonates."—LA Times"

Cullen's book is a nerve-wracking, methodical and panoramic account...COLUMBINE has its terrifying sections, particularly during Cullen's minute-by-minute rendering of the chaotic 49-minute assault. He puts us inside and outside the building, and he captures the disbelief viewers experienced in 'almost witnessing mass murder' live on television."—Cleveland Plain Dealer"

A chilling page-turner, a striking accomplishment given that Cullen's likely readers almost certainly know how the tragic story ends...I knew Cullen was a dogged reporter and a terrific writer, but even I was blown away by the pacing and story-telling he mastered in Columbine, a disturbing, inspiring work of art."—Salon"

Comprehensively nightmarish . . . Cullen's task is difficult not only because the events in question are almost literally unspeakable but also because even as he tells the story of a massacre that took the lives of 15 people, including the killers, he has to untell the stories that have already been told . . . Should this story be told at all? There's an element of sick, voyeuristic fascination to it—we don't need an exercise in disaster porn. But Columbine is a necessary book. . . . The actual events of April 20, 1999, are exactly as appalling as you'd expect, and Cullen doesn't spare us a second of them."—Time"

The definitive account, [of the tragedy] will likely be Dave Cullen's COLUMBINE, a nonfiction book that has the pacing of an action movie and the complexity of a Shakespearean drama . . . Cullen has a gift, if that's the right word, for excruciating detail. At times the language is so vivid you can almost smell the gunpowder and the fear."—Newsweek"

COLUMBINE is an excellent work of media criticism, showing how legends become truths through continual citation; a sensitive guide to the patterns of public grief, foreshadowing many of the reactions to Sept. 11 (lawsuits, arguments about the memorial, voyeuristic bus tours); and, at the end of the day, a fine example of old fashioned journalism . . . moving things along with agility and grace."—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times Review of Books

While the details of the day are indeed gruesome, Cullen neither embellishes nor sensationalizes. His unadorned prose and staccato sections offer welcome relief from the grisly minutiae... Cullen's honor and reporting skills propel this book beyond tabloid and into true literature."—Newsday"

A gripping study . . . To his credit, Mr. Cullen does not simply tear down Columbine's legends. He also convincingly explains what really sparked the murderous rage . . . disquieting . . . beautifully written."—The New York Observer

From the very first page, I could not put COLUMBINE Dave Cullen's searing narrative, down. Dylan ... How the killings unfolded, and why, reads like the grisliest of fiction. Would that it were not true. Grade: A"—Entertainment Weekly"

A remarkable book. It is painstakingly reported, well-organized and compellingly written . . . For any reader who wants to understand the complicated nature of evil, this book is a masterpiece."—The Seattle Times"

Leveraged for political ends by Michael Moore on film and adopted for convenience by the news media as shorthand for teenage violence, Columbine has begun to feel as impenetrable and allegorical as Greek myth. So the intensive reporting of Denver-based journalist Dave Cullen is welcome. . . Cullen creates more than a nuanced portrait of school shooters as young men. He writes a human story - a compassionate narrative of teenagers with guns (and bombs, too), and the havoc they wreak on a school, a community, and America.—Esquire"

Exhaustive and supremely level-headed . . . The ways in which the Columbine story became distorted in the retelling make for one of the most fascinating aspects of Cullen's book . . . Hopping back and forth in time, Cullen manages to tell this complicated story with remarkable clarity and coherence. As one of the first reporters on the scene in 1999, he has been studying this event firsthand for a decade, and his book exudes a sense of authority missing from much of the original media coverage. ...Cullen strikes just the right tone of tough-minded compassion, for the most part steering clear of melodrama, sermonizing and easy answers."—Gary Krist, Washington Post

COLUMBINE is a remarkable achievement. Cullen has brought illumination to a dark and difficult topic, and the result is an example of literary nonfiction at its finest: masterful, clear-eyed, bold - and unforgettable."—Charlotte Observer

Entertainment Weekly
From the very first page, I could not put COLUMBINE Dave Cullen's searing narrative, down. Dylan ... How the killings unfolded, and why, reads like the grisliest of fiction. Would that it were not true. Grade: A"
Esquire
"Leveraged for political ends by Michael Moore on film and adopted for convenience by the news media as shorthand for teenage violence, Columbine has begun to feel as impenetrable and allegorical as Greek myth. So the intensive reporting of Denver-based journalist Dave Cullen is welcome. . . Cullen creates more than a nuanced portrait of school shooters as young men. He writes a human story - a compassionate narrative of teenagers with guns (and bombs, too), and the havoc they wreak on a school, a community, and America.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446546928
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
03/03/2010
Pages:
443
Sales rank:
15,756
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Columbine


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."

COL-um-BINE!"

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

"COL-um-BINE!"

"COL-um-BINE!"

"COL-um-BINE!"

"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.

(Continues...)



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.

Meet the Author

Dave Cullen is a journalist and author who has contributed to Slate, Salon, and the New York Times. He is considered the nation's foremost authority on the Columbine killers, and has also written extensively on Evangelical Christians, gays in the military, politics, and pop culture. A graduate of the MFA program at the University of Boulder, Cullen has won several writing awards, including a GLAAD Media Award, Society of Professional Journalism awards, and several Best of Salon citations.

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Columbine 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
Cullen provides an in-depth look at the events leading up to and following the tragic school shooting at Columbine. He fleshes out the personalities of the people involved, especially focusing on the two shooters. He debunks the myths that confounded the Columbine story for years. This is an amazing work of journalism, as well as a moving narrative. Tears came to my eyes several times while reading. My only qualm about this book is that at the very end Cullen provided some gory details that weren&rsquo;t necessary. I&rsquo;m not squeamish, but I think providing those details wasn&rsquo;t necessary to emphasize how tragic the events were, and gore is much more disturbing when you&rsquo;re thinking about the real people involved. However, this was only a very short section of the book&hellip;and I guess journalists will be journalists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very informative and interesting read! This book shines a whole new light on the tragedy that happened at Columbine HS and is completely different from the story we got from the media. Read it and draw your own conclusions!
Guardian105 More than 1 year ago
This book is NOT for the faint of heart. It is about one of the most terrible domestic attacks on innocent children in the history of the United States. However, unlike what the media would like you to believe (they were bullied, they were part of the Tranchcoat Mafia, etc. etc. etc.), Dave Cullen treats this tragedy with a journalistic respect, dignity, and integrity that is severely lacking in this day and age. He also sets the record straight. If you want to learn the REAL story of what "pushed" these two kids to commit such an atrocity, you will want to read this book. Highly recommended for Sociology/Criminology majors and True Crime aficionados.
diana45 More than 1 year ago
I have always been deeply interested in the case at Columbine. I have read several books on this case, and so far, this is the best one. Of course, every book has it's flaws, and although I didn't agree with everything the author said, it was overall a great book. It did have some factual errors, but mostly they were minor. I think the writing is great and I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Columbine.
OpenWindows More than 1 year ago
This is a clear and thoughtful analysis of the events of the Columbine shooting. Dissenters say that the author brushes past several contributing factors to the event, but I think he addresses all of the so-called factors and explains very well why he feels they were not actually factors in the shooters' motivations. He outlines clearly why he feels the shooters suffered from psychopathy and depression (seperately), and whether you choose to agree or not in the end, what the author presents is an incredibly interesting picture of what was a horrific event in American history. This is a great read.
MNGirl78 More than 1 year ago
This book gave me so much insight to the day of this terrible tragedy as well as what the people most affected by this heinous act went through after the rest of the country moved on to the next big story. I could barely put this book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More than ten years after one of the most devastating events in recent American history, Dave Cullen tells the REAL account of Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. We are all familiar with the story, and everyone remembers hearing the news; shooters running ramped inside of a typical, suburban Colorado high school. Terror lined the hallways and smeared the doorways as two boys murdered innocent students, eventually taking their own lives. As you read this novel, you'll find goose bumps raise on your arms and shivers crawl down your spine. Two young students set out to kill an entire school; a mass murder. Fortunately, they did not ultimately succeed. 13 victims lost their lives and a community was permanently scarred. The media skewed this story every way possible, from 4 killers being held responsible to the murder of a real life martyr. However, the more detailed the accounts become, the farther your own imagination will stray. What if this was my school? As a student at a similar Colorado high school in the same community, I feel a connection to those students, but it is still impossible to understand the tragedy they experienced. What if I was hiding underneath a table and a man with a loaded gun stared down at me and muttered a single word: "Peekaboo"? Would you confess your love for God as some claimed Cassie Bernall did, or would you beg for a chance at survival like Bree Pasquale? If you are looking for truth within a decade of rumors and confusion, then Columbine is the novel for you. If you crave a glimpse into the mind of a psychopath, Eric Harris's journals and tapes will give you that and more. Eric's best friend and partner in the Columbine massacre Dylan Klebold was far from a psychopath, he was an outcast yearning for love and acceptance. Eric gave Dylan confidence and companionship, something he struggled to find elsewhere. You will feel compassion for the parents of the murders, who, just like any other parents, tried their best to steer their sons toward successful futures. Dave Cullen is an extremely talented journalist, and one of the most knowledgeable persons to have studied Columbine High School and the events that lead up to April 20, 1999. His other literary pieces involve Christianity, pop culture, politics, and much more. I would give this book and overall rating of five out of five stars. It is one of the first accurate records of Columbine and it allows you to see every point of view possible; from a student at gunpoint to a principle in panic to a parent praying for their child's safety. This is by no means a "light read", but it will give you an overwhelming glance into Columbine High School and what really took place on that tragic spring day.
K-Frog More than 1 year ago
This book was the one I have waited for concerning Columbine. Being a teacher and having a gun pulled on me during my carrer, I wanted to read the true story. Mr. Cullen not only told the story but he also went behind the scenes to get reactions from the people involved. His detailed story of the day it happened were eye-opening. He also talked to students and the parents of both shooters. My son noticed me reading the book and he is now readingit. He is in college and his professor wants to read the book next. What a great book!
Jenn-at-GirlsJustReading More than 1 year ago
By chance and via Twitter, I came across a fellow book-blogger reading Columbine by Dave Cullen. I remarked that I wanted to read it and the publisher, TWELVE, saw my request and sent the book my way. Even if they hadn't, I would have gone out of my way to seek out a copy of this book, because Columbine made an impact on me. I was in my second and final assignment as a student teacher, working in a high school with a sprawling campus not unlike Columbine's. The teachers I was working with had the television on in the classroom all day and we watched as the story unfolded in the media. I don't think I ever looked at a classroom full of students the same way again. The details in this book are well researched and organized, but also astounding. Cullen takes us through the events leading up to the tragedy, the aftermath, the investigation, and the cover ups. For the most part, Cullen's narrative follows the forensic pysch investigation of Dr. Dwayne Fuselier an FBI agent and clinical psychologist, as well as a terrorism and hostage negotiating expert. As Fuselier begins to investigate and make discoveries, time continues to move forward for the victims families, the survivors, and community. Thus, the narrative jumps around chronologically, but it's certainly not a problem to keep things straight. Whereas a linear approach might have been nice, it may also have been a difficult and distressing read, so I appreciate his choice. There are lots of names to keep track of but Cullen also kindly provides an index for point of reference. There were many false stories surrounding the event and Cullen does his best to dispel them. The boys were smart, average popularity guys that acted alone. They weren't bullied, if anything they were bullies. They weren't Goths or "Trench Coat Mafia", just a psychopath and a severely suicidal teen. The media and the witnesses weren't purposefully trying to mislead the public, they were confused. The Jeffco police were another matter entirely. It is incredible that so many warning signs went unheeded, that no one put all the puzzle pieces together until it was too late. Not that I think anyone could ever have imagined the heinous acts as those of April 20, 1999, but the police and judicial system had enough evidence to know that something bad might happen. If only they had communicated or followed through on paperwork. The one good thing to come from Columbine was the change in attitudes and response by educators, administrators, and law enforcement. Since 1999, more than 80 school shootings have occurred, but none as devastating as what took place at Columbine, save for the Virginia Tech massacre where once again, communication broke down. I think this book is a must read for both teachers and parents. Cullen does a magnificent job of fitting the truths together. It may change the way you look at the world. I know the shooting changed the teacher I became... http://girlsjustreading.blogspot.com/2010/08/jenns-review-columbine.html
Aubrie Faville More than 1 year ago
I personally thought this book was absolutely phenomenal. Not only was the story so tragically grasping, but the way Cullen unfolded the events and provided gruesome detail made the story that more intriguing. It was amazing to me how much work was obviously put into this project and how much evidence was provided to support every claim. This book was extremely gripping and struck me to my core. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book for young or immature audiences. There are several spots within the book where the details become pretty vivid such as the journal entries in the back of the book, those brought me to tears. The overall writing style and voice Cullen uses makes the story very easy to follow almost as if it were a fictional story. Although, the pain and emotion he uses grips you to remind the reader that it is absolutely nonfiction. The most outstanding part of the book for me had to be how all the victims were described in such detail and stories of their lives and who they were. They weren't just victims of an unforgivable massacre; they were people, teenagers with goals and aspirations. As for the shooters I also believe they were done justice with how they were portrayed throughout the book. Cullen didn't downplay the horror of the massacre, but he did remind us all that they were teenagers as well. Needless to say the book was one if the best reads I've had in a while. I would definitely recommend it to anyone willing to read.
PagesofComfort More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this book recently, but once I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read it soon. I was only about 10 years old when the shooting at Columbine happened, so I honestly didn't know much about it. I learned a little about it in school and when I watched Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore. But I really didn't know much of what the media portrayed it to be. All I knew going into this book was that jocks, bullies, and video games were blamed for why Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold committed this tragedy. I really loved the way this book was written. It starts out pretty early (within the first few chapters) with the school shooting. After that, it jumps back to Eric and Dylan's pasts; how they grew up and the events that led up to this. Meanwhile, goes back and forth between Eric and Dylan and the students and staff members that they killed and injured. I love that we were able to get to know the victims in this event and it didn't just focus on Eric and Dylan. And not only did we learn about the kids and teacher that died, but we also learned about the students who were injured and those who witnessed the event. I really learned a lot from reading this book. Clearly the information that the media received wasn't all that accurate. There doesn't appear to be any relation to jocks, bullies, or video games as to why Eric and Dylan committed this crime. Instead, they were two very troubled boys. Eric is thought to be a psychopath who went undiagnosed during his life; he simply enjoyed the thought of tormenting and killing people. It was a sad book to read, but very informative and I'm glad I read it. It also made me think a lot about how the media portrays things (not always their fault, just depends on the info they're given). I felt, and feel, incredibly bad for Dylan and Eric's parents. They are made out to be bad guys throughout this whole ordeal. I think we forget sometimes that while their sons committed awful crimes, these parents still lost a child. Looking back, maybe there were signs that the parents could have noticed. But I don't think any one of us would think our children would turn out to be killers. I just don't think we can blame the parents for something that their children did; the parents didn't commit these crimes. Overall, I thought this was a very good book and very educational. It really opened my eyes to a lot of the reasons why this tragedy may have occurred. I think if you're interested in learning more about this incident, and a little about psychology, you should pick this up. Very insightful.
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HayleiJeli More than 1 year ago
I just started it so i havent read much but it's nice knowing how the boys were and how they acted and stuff like that. It's a little slow but I love it and cant wait to read on. Never really knew what happen since i was only 4 or 5 at the time and i want to know what the situation was like and how it happened.
book-babe-311 More than 1 year ago
I saw this book at the library and knew I had to read it. Did not really want to but needed to. I was a junior in high school when this took place and can still remember it like it was yesterday. Even though I lived in Texas I can remember watching it unfold on TV with the rest of the nation. I was not only glued but shocked and then scared. I know the next day at school a lot of kids where on edge. The only two teachers who touched the subject where first period class teachers which sounded rehearsed and then there was our psychology teacher who also talked about it. She even used the whole class period which was really appreciated because we needed to discuss it and know that someone was caring, while looking out for us. I couldn't believe a student even had the nerve that  very next day to come stomping in with a trench coat on, of course for reaction which he got. The good thing is we were all on alert and the new rule was all threats were taken seriously which I can tell you were not before this event. I guess one good thing to come out of this is at a lot of schools threats were taken more seriously. The author of this book spent 10 years researching deeply. He was there from day one when it happened and studied it for years to try to understand the meaning behind it all. I have to tell you for years I believed that this was a mass shooting. I had no idea their original plan was to actually bomb the entire school and then pick off the rest that came running out. No certain person or group was ever targeted like the media claimed for a long time. Everyone was a target including you and me who sat at home watching it unfold and even the aftermath. Eric was a true psychopath who wanted to rid the world of every single one of US! Dylan was an extremely depressed and suicidal young man who clung to Eric when he felt he had no one left. Eric knew exactly how to use that to his advantage. Not saying that Dylan was innocent because he still became a killer but I can't help but wonder if he ever got real help and got away from such destructive people if he would of chose the same direction. This book is very accurate and descriptive which at times can be unpsetting but it let's us know the full truth and debunks a lot of myths and false accounts due to media and journalism sensationalism. This book is a must read for anyone interested in criminology and psychology. It is a very detailed and informative book. I recommend checking it out from a local library before buying it. I cannot speak for everyone but I could not read it again. Wanted to to know the facts and got them. Could not handle reading it twice. Because of the detailed descriptions it did cause nightmares for me, however I read it before bed time so Im sure that did not help. All in all if your interested in knowing the truth about that day then this is the best resource out there. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't know much about the Columbine shooting before reading Cullen's book. It was very interesting and there was a lot of informative information in the book. I have to admit though, I have my doubts about some of the sources and other information Cullen provides. For example, he talks about Eric being popular and getting lots of girls, but later points out that it was likely that he was a virgin when he died. This in particular troubled me. Also, most of his information came from the Jeffco police files that were released after the shooting. I'm weary to trust the source because of the cover-up within the department in the days following the incident. Cullen also assigns feelings to the shooters, which of course no one is able to validate. Also, I didn't particularly care for the format of the book. I think the author was attempting to tell the whole story of Columbine (obviously), almost as a story with characters and a whole plot line etc. but it was difficult for me to put the pieces of the story together in correct chronological order since each chapter jumps back and forth from before and after the shooting and focuses on a different person involved each time. It was hard to follow at times. I liked how he told the stories of different people: the shooters, the victims, the families of victims etc. It helped me connect to the story. There were times that Cullen's writing made me feel as if I was literally in the high school at the time of the shooting. Still, all in all, I think this is a great book on Columbine. Cullen has obviously put a lot of time and effort into this book, 10 years in fact. We will never know exactly what the killers felt, thought, their motives, but I believe Cullen's account is probably the most accurate you are going to find. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about the Columbine shooting, but probably for mature readers. Some excerpts from the killers journals are very graphic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold stormed their school, their only thought was to kill as many people as possible. After the fact, along with the grief and anger, people just wanted to know why they decided to do what they did. As policemen searched their homes, they actually found an abundance of evidence, including homemade tapes and journals. The main investigator in this book, who was also a psychologist, thought that it was almost like they left all this behind to try and make people understand, to explain. The journals were kind of a peek into Eric and Dylan&rsquo;s minds. Dylan just seemed to have major depression, and in his journals he talked of committing suicide many times. He and Eric planned on killing themselves at the end of the massacre, so Dylan just saw this as a way out. Eric, on the other hand, is entirely different. His writings and the way he acted and viewed things were actually many of the symptoms of a full-blown psychopath. Some of these include controlling, viewing himself as above the human race, and he dreamed of mass murder. Eric planned on killing more than the Oklahoma bombings did. The tapes they had made actually gave glimpses into what they were planning, and it sometimes showed them at their most crazed state. They would scream at the camera about who they would kill, and how they would do it. One of the tapes even showed them practicing their shooting. In these tapes, both boys would often wear trench coats. When people saw these, they connected them with a group called the Trench Coat Mafia. This is a false though; they were never involved in this group. The coats were worn in their tapes and during the shooting because they helped make them look intimidating and they helped them store their weapons. Both the &ldquo;Basement Tapes&rdquo; and the journals would provide a lot of evidence and answers. Even though knowing why Eric and Dylan did what they did didn&rsquo;t lessen the grief and anger the victims&rsquo; families were feeling, it did provide some closure. Closure, however, didn&rsquo;t stop them from lashing out at both the Harris&rsquo; and the Klebolds. Many blamed them for what their sons did. Though it is understandable to be angry, it wasn&rsquo;t their fault. Both boys hid their true colors very well, and nobody suspected a thing. Even though the tragedy was huge, Eric didn&rsquo;t get to kill near as many people as he wanted to. He only killed thirteen, when he wanted to kill hundreds or thousands. Columbine will forever go down as one of the worst school massacres in all of history. What I really liked about this book was that all of my questions about Columbine were answered, and the author made sure to convey both sides of the story. I read this book for the sake of both of those two, so I really connected with it. I was also intrigued to see the whole progression of this awful journey from the beginning to the end. I didn&rsquo;t dislike any aspects of the book. I give this book a 8 out of 10, and I suggest it from ages 14 and up. If someone can deal with the horrifying aspects of this book like I could, I think they would find it very interesting. It gives a new insight into Columbine, and it really gave me a new perspective. I finally understood why Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did what they did, and it made me understand every aspect of it so much better. Columbine truly is a fantastic read!
Carly-Scala More than 1 year ago
What do you know about Columbine? If you were like me, not much. There is so much detail in this book that I feel I never heard about...and it is intense. So interesting.
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