Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: "Columbine" by Dave Cullen

From Goodreads:  Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, "Columbine" is an award-winning journalist's definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.

It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town? 

 "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 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 best complete account of the Columbine tragedy. 

My Thoughts:  WOW.  That's all I can say.  This is one of the best works of non-fiction that I have read in a long time.  I was worried that this book might be hard to get into but I seriously could not put it down nor did I want to.  I was a sophomore in high school when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 13 people at Columbine High School and I remember how scary it was and I watched enough on the news about it to think that I actually knew what had happened there.  Wrong.  I did not realize how many myths had been perpetuated about that day.  This book really goes into detail about what happened, what may or may not have made Eric and Dylan go through with their awful plan and the aftermath of that day.  It was so incredibly sad but fascinating at the same time.  Cullen's writing is excellent and I felt like he really did a good job of clearly laying out the facts about the survivors, families of the victim's and the police.  This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year.  5 stars.

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