by Dave Cullen

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A masterpiece of reportage, this is the definitive account of the Columbine massacre, its aftermath, and its significance, from the acclaimed journalist who followed the story from the outset.
"The tragedies keep coming. As we reel from the latest horror . . ."
So begins a new epilogue, illustrating how Columbine became the template for nearly two decades of "spectacle murders." It is a false script, seized upon by a generation of new killers. In the wake of Parkland, Charleston, Newtown, Aurora, and Virginia Tech, the imperative to understand the crime that sparked this plague grows more urgent every year.
What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror of Columbine left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we "know" is wrong. It wasn't about jocks, goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book -- widely recognized as the definitive account. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, Cullen draws on mountains of evidence, insights from the world's leading forensic psychologists, and the killers' own words and drawings -- several reproduced in a new appendix for the paperback.
In this New York Times bestselling work, Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers, who stand in stark contrast against the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors of the Columbine massacre.
*Includes reading group guide*

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446552219
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/06/2009
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 35,563
File size: 8 MB

About 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.

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.

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Columbine 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 555 reviews.
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.
dmoitzh More than 1 year ago
ONe of the BEST nonfiction books I've ever read. I'm not a nonfiction reader but I was captivated throughout this book. It really gives you an inside view of what actually happened. A lot of media reports were wrong and this clarified these points with hard evidence.
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.
AppalledMO More than 1 year ago
Lots of background info on the tragedy I hadn't been exposed to. There is always more to the story than we get in the media. Such is the case here. I highly recommend the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book twice. Once straight through as I could not put it down and once aloud to my mother. We both were interested in the hard topic and the way Cullen presented it with thoughtfulness and hard research. I grew up near Columbine high school (my brother spent summers teaching tennis at columbine country club) and was in elementary school when the shooting occured and all school were put on high awareness lock down. The community that Cullen describes is true to what the after shock felt like for those near by. Anyway just read it!
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.
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’t necessary. I’m not squeamish, but I think providing those details wasn’t necessary to emphasize how tragic the events were, and gore is much more disturbing when you’re thinking about the real people involved. However, this was only a very short section of the book…and I guess journalists will be journalists.
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...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Columbine by Dave Cullen was one of my favorite books that I have ever read. The book looks like it will be a lot when you pick it up as it is over 400 pages, but each one of those pages is more interesting than the last. The book explains what events occurred April 20th, 1999 at Columbine High School. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went into their high school and started shooting their classmates and teachers. Dave Cullen goes more in depth about why the two boys decided to commit this act against their classmates. The first part of the book is all about what happened that specific day and how the events led up to what occurred. The book then dives into the background of the two boys and how each of their personal lives played in to the crime. It gives detailed descriptions about what happened during the investigation immediately after and for the next few months and years following the shooting. Dave Cullen gets inside scoops with the people who had been apart of the investigation and puts it together in a way that actually makes sense for people who didn’t know a lot about what actually happened.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Columbine by Dave Cullen is an intense, close look at the events that unfolded at Columbine High School in April of 1999. An enormous amount of research, interviews and follow-up was put into this project by the author in order to give us a final, comprehensive view of this tragedy.I vividly remember following this incident on TV that day, and in the days that followed. I ended with a vague impression that 2 Goth students, fed up with being bullied, went to school that day with guns for the purpose of vengeance. I couldn¿t have been more wrong.Dave Cullen lays out the evidence that took him ten years to gather from a step by step outline of what Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold¿s mind set was that day, to the accusations of police cover-ups, to the recovery process for the survivors, and the emptiness left by those who did not survive. So many rumors swirled around in the days immediately following the massacre that it was hard for the police, the press, the families and even the students themselves to separate the fact from fiction. It took years of painstakingly working through the evidence that finally led the investigators to a resolution. There is no easy answer when violence of this nature erupts but this book goes a long way toward giving us a clearer picture of what happened and to a certain degree why it happened. Author Dave Cullen is to be commended for providing such a memorable, thoughtful analysis of this hateful event.
mjs1228 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Imagine you're watching a play. The play is similar to another play that you've seen before, several plays, in fact. This time there is a screen in front of the stage made of fine black gauze. You can see and here what it going on behind the gauze, when the light shines a certain way you could almost forget the gauze is there. Then the scene ends and when the curtain rises again the same scene is played again, this time without the gauze screen. The same words are spoken but in some by different characters than you thought the first time. In other cases you can see the actors' expressions completely now and the words, though the same, have an entirely different sensation.This is what reading Dave Cullen's amazing book is like. I thought I knew the story of Columbine - after all I'd seen it play out on my TV screen - but I was watching the whole thing through the gauze of misconception and insta-reportage. Cullen rips the gauze away and tells the whole story. It's not enough to say he sets the record straight, that sounds like he fixed the punctuation; This isn't a merely book, it's a revelation.When people asked me what I was reading and I answered "A book about Columbine"the usual reaction was a visual and verbal mixture of puzzlement and dismay. "Why are you reading about that" they'd ask, "hasn't that been done to death?" The simple answer is that the truth of Columbine hasn't been told until know. And when I'd puncture a few of the myths that we'd all believed to be truth - it wasn't the Trench Coat Mafia, they weren't Goths, etc - the response was "No way" followed by "I need to read this book, too."Yes, you do. This is the must-read nonfiction book of the year.Cullen spent years talking to the everyone involved who would talk to him and the result is a story that is actually more horrifying that anything reported at the time. Far from being bullied teens who fought back - and wasn't that always a bit of wish-fulfillment on the part of reporters and viewers alike? - this is the story of a clinically depressed teenager in the hands of a teen-age psychopath. Eric Harris, the psychopath in question, is exponentially more terrifying than science fiction monster for the simple reason that you wouldn't invite "Alien" into your home but you'd give Eric the keys to your house to watch it while you were on vacation, all the while thinking what a nice, responsible young man he was. Meanwhile he'd be building napalm jet backpacks in your basement. Eric was misunderstood, all right, because he wanted it that way. Cullen presents one of the clearest explanations of psychopathy I've come across and the evidence for Harris being categorized as a psychopath is overwhelming.Dylan Klebold, as Cullen notes several times, is more concerned with love than hate but the whole that depression leaves in his soul is filled by Eric Harris's hate for all humanity. It's easy to imagine Dylan Klebold taking a different path. By contrast, one can only see Eric Harris committing other more heinous crimes. Was it just bad luck that led Klebold into Harris's path? Who knows? That's the point that Cullen isn't afraid to make - that no one knows what created Eric Harris or what made Dylan Klebold so vulnerable to him. It wasn't being bullied or bad parenting or video games or Twinkies or music with hidden messages or any other stock, easy answer.Cullen does find heroes and villains and mixtures of both. The families of the murdered react in different ways, from painful to witness hatred to self-destruction. The community reacts with compassion, understanding, exploitation, fatigue and finally ambivalence. I thought Cullen did an especially sensitive job of dealing with the role spirituality and faith played in the healing process. For some their faith allowed them to accept the tragedy with a peace reminiscent of the Amish school shooting. Others are moved by their faith to reach out the parents of Harris and Klebold only to find their actions denounced by
Suva on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The ten years of research and on-the-ground reporting show in this beautiful piece of journalism. Columbine's comparisons to In Cold Blood are justified, especially due to the intricate and detailed prose style, but above all this is Cullen's empathy for the victims of the tragedy.A book that manages to be both important and well written, the only downside is that the kind of shooting it documents are still going on and are in many ways getting worse.
jtlauderdale on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There was so much about this incident that I did not know, yet I thought I did. I had followed the news coverage, especially right after the tragedy. So much of what was initially reported was wrong. These young men were not Goths or loners bullied by jocks. After listening to this well-researched and well-sourced narrative about how this tragic event came to happen, I came away with an understanding of what led up to it. This was also a moment by moment accounting of that day and its aftermath. It is also a cautionary tale about any on-the-spot news coverage of a sensational incident. In this audio edition, the narrator was able to convey much with the quality of his reading, which was calm without being flat. Eric's journal entries as read by the narrator are chilling.
bjappleg8 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
David Cullen was one of the journalists who covered the Columbine massacre in April 1999 and followed the story over the ensuing years. His book is an in-depth look at the events surrounding the shooting itself, the official response, the press coverage, and the shooters' psychology. As Cullen himself says: most of what we "know" about Columbine is wrong - and he lays out a convincing case of how that came to be. One thing in particular I found fascinating was the way that the press coverage influenced even the students' own perceptions and memories - they were talking to journalists on their cell phones from inside the school as well as watching TV coverage on the school television sets in their classrooms. An inaccuracy would be reported and the witnesses themselves would pick up on it from the press coverage and make it part of their memory and understanding of the event. I would give the book the author wrote 4.5 starts.However, I have very mixed feelings about the _audio_ book. It was a very difficult book to listen to. I think that may have been largely because I actually listened to the whole entire book - I couldn't skim over the grisly or difficult parts. Also, while other reviewers have mentioned that Cullen was as tasteful as possible in dealing with this subject (and I would agree, if that can in any way NOT be an oxymoron) I felt his book would have been better served by a narrator who read a little more dispassionately. Don Leslie emotes far too much for my taste, especially for a book of non-fiction and for one that deals with an already emotion-fraught topic. Also, and this is a very personal observation, the extensive quotes from Erik Harris's journals were intensely jarring to me, since the F-word was by far his favorite adjective. Again, scanning a text and seeing the word is apparently just not as disturbing to me as hearing the word over and over - especially with Leslie's loud emphasis of it. This may not be a concern for most readers, and I'm not arguing with the author's inclusion of these excerpts. It certainly fleshes out the picture of the killers that he drew. But it's fair warning of what you're in for.Cullen has written an insightful, unflinching book that cleared up a lot of murkiness and misconceptions that have shrouded the Columbine massacre for nearly 12 years. It will haunt me.Book: 4.5 starsthis audio version: 2.5 stars
The_Hibernator on LibraryThing 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¿t necessary. I¿m not squeamish, but I think providing those details wasn¿t necessary to emphasize how tragic the events were, and gore is much more disturbing when you¿re thinking about the real people involved. However, this was only a very short section of the book¿and I guess journalists will be journalists.
frisbeesage on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Columbine is the devastating story of the school shootings that took place in 1999. Dave Cullen was assigned the story when it was breaking and has spent the last ten years trying to understand exactly what took place that day and what lead to the tragedy. The book is incredibly detailed, taking you minute by minute through the shootings, analyzing the journals and videos left behind, and delving into the boys' psyche and motivations. Cullen accomplishes many things with this well-written account; he debunks many of the myths perpetuated by the media, brings some clarity to how it happened, and offers some hope that people can recover from an event this tragic.You should understand - the book is a harrowing and heartbreaking read. Given that, I learned a lot about Columbine that I had been unaware of. I listened to the book on audio and Don Leslie does a great job with what must have been a difficult task. He maintains a neutral, steady voice throughout. Listening to this book was a cathartic experience in many ways and helped me process some of the emotions that I felt following the event.
bigorangemichael on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you're like me, you probably figure you know all there is to know about the horrors that went on at Columbine High School just over a decade ago. If you're like me, you couldn't be more wrong.Journalist Dave Cullen has followed the story since those horrible days in the spring of 1999, when two high school kids entered their school and began to open fire. Cullen's "Columbine" explores what the duo hoped to achieve as opposed to what was initially reported--and it will chill you. Had the two carried out the plan as envisioned, the attack on the school would have been far more devastating than it was. What's most fascinating is the way the myths of the story have become the facts. Cullen explores not only the two instigators of the attacks, but also those touched by the tragedy both before, during and after the events. It's a story that reads like fiction but is too tragically real. If you think you know the story, read this book. It's chilling at times but it may help serve as a warning to help us see the signs coming again in others and prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.
drneutron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The killings at Columbine High School have always been a bit of a mystery to me. We've heard the media coverage - bullying of goth kids by jocks, revenge killings, etc. But I've never been satisfied with the attempts to understand the thinking of Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold. Much of what's been published about the events that day has been contradictory, and the coverage by the national media just died away when a new story came along. So in some sense, we have been no better off in understanding and preventing this sort of thing than we were before it happened. Fortunately, David Cullen has spent the last ten years researching this very question, and his result is the very good Columbine. Based on many thousands of pages of evidence, witness testimony, and interviews with those actually there, Cullen has cut through the fog to give what is probably the most accurate story of the Columbine killings that can be pieced together. Along the way, Cullen clears up some of the myths that have grown up around the story. If for nothing else, this book is incredibly valuable for that clarity, but he also discussed how the mythology surrounding such events can grow - a fascinating story in its own right.Columbine was hard to read in spots, not because of the book itself, but because of my emotional reaction to the story. The peek into Eric and Dylan's inner lives is revolting in spots, and I found myself bouncing between horror and empathy. Dylan, especially, was a very troubled kid that probably could have been helped, had help been forthcoming. Eric had a history of violence, and the local police could have prevented the shootings if they had followed up on reports by others around him. I was angry with the way the Jefferson County sheriff handled the event, the following investigation, and the release of information gathered. I was moved by the spirit of the school principal and staff as they dealt with the aftermath to the detriment of their own personal lives. And the survivors' stories ripped my heart out. It's a tribute to Cullen's ability that Columbine manages to evoke all this emotion while staying elegant and thoughtful without any hint of tabloid reporting.
Schmerguls on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book starts well, telling of the exciting and deadly events culminating in the slaughter on April 20, 1999, at the Colorado high school. Then the book alternates in telling of the victims' lives after the event and of the shooters' preparations fo the evil deeds. The extensive quoting of the writings of the shooters are stomach-turning and thoroughly unejoyable. Reminded me of when I had the misfortune to read Fuhrer-Ex: Memoirs of a Former Neo-Nazi, by Ingo Hasselbach with Tom Reiss (read 25 Jun 1996). The stupidity of the words the boys indulged in is so glaring and so evil, one would be justified in considering them as agents of satan. But it tells the story probably as well as it is tellable. One wonders why the parents did not once in awhile check on what was in their boys' rooms--if they had gone in the room the whole massacre might have been prevented, since the parents seemed to be good people with no tendency to be over-permissive. The lesson to be learned: parents, know what is going on in your own home.