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If you're looking for the full and unflinching story behind Columbine, this book delivers.
I cannot imagine a better account of the Columbine High School massacre than Dave Cullen’s Columbine. Not only does Cullen thoroughly answer the standard questions associated with the killers and their motives, he, more importantly, gives voice to the victims and represents their stories. Alternating chapters describe the killers’ evolution to mass murderers followed with stories of victims, their families, and the community dealing with the aftermath. Columbine examines these issues in a holistic approach rarely given to similar tragedies, including a look at myths surrounding the massacre (e.g. bullying, trench coat mafia), the psychology of sociopathy, and criticisms of media coverage and the police investigations. Columbine is difficult to read at times because the graphic descriptions made me feel very close to the events. However, more journalism and true crime should strive for Dave Cullen’s level of consideration and sensitivity.
"The Trench Coat Mafia was mythologized because it was colorful, memorable, and fit the existing myth of the school shooters as outcast loner. All the Columbine myths worked that way. And they all sprang to life incredibly fast-most of the notorious myths took root before the killers' bodies were found."
Journalist Dave Cullen's book on the 1999 Columbine shooting, which still looms large in American memory, will likely be the definitive work for some time. It's incredibly detailed, well-researched, and dedicated to unraveling the many myths the have shrouded the tragedy and getting to the heart of what happened. It's an immersive, intense experience that is a model of smart, committed investigative journalism.
This book is incredible. I listened to the audiobook and read the ebook. I would recommend this to anyone. I will say, if you listen to it, it might be hard to keep track of who is who. Things progress so quickly in some chapters that I found myself "rewinding" several times. I was very young when this happened so I wasn't familiar with the names beforehand. Regardless, I would highly recommend both audiobook and ebook. I found this book to be very interesting and learned a lot. You can feel Dave Cullen's heart and soul in this book. You can tell how hard he worked to make this publication and how desperately he wanted to set the record straight. He wanted to get people to understand how each person involved felt and he was successful. I struggle with saying I enjoyed this book. Enjoy is not the word. I was enthralled by this book. Dave is a very talented author and he told this story the best way it could be told.
Terrible and fascinating and disgusting and compelling, this journalist's tireless work to uncover the actual happenings of that day at Columbine high school , what preceded it and what happened after was eye opening, informative and it will make you both sick and pissed off. In light of current debates I would challenge everyone to read this to be reminded that it's all happened before because I think people have forgotten.
i read this book to fulfil the goal read a book about true crime. it was very interesting. it alternated between chapters on the killers and chapters of the victums. at times it was pretty intense. while i was reading there was a school shooting reported on school. i was shocked to see that the still reported "the shooters as wearing trench coats similiar to the attack at columbine." deeply disturbing, but i did enjoy it in a somber kind of way
Thorough, thoughtful and well-researched story of the Columbine school tragedy and its aftermath. Cullen's account of the investigations into the who-what-why-how is comprehensive, as is his analysis of the falsehoods perpetuated by the media after the shootings.
After ten years of meticulous research, author David Cullen has pieced together the definitive history on the Columbine massacre. Shattering many myths surrounding this tragedy, I was surprised at how much I learned (and didn't know) about this infamous shooting, which was covered ad nauseam for most of 1999. For starters, it was actually a bombing that went wrong; when the pipe bombs Harris and Klebold constructed turned out be complete duds, Plan B was quickly put into action, resulting in thirteen deaths. Nor were the two gunmen goths; the only reason they wore trench coats that day was to conceal their weapons. And of course, what better place to seek out bullying jocks than the library. Harris is shown in the book to be a classic psychopath who can be charming one minute and a monster the next. Hoping to kill far more people than he did, I was shocked to learn that local police knew all about Harris's website where he boasted about making pipe bombs and threatening other kids for more than a year before the shooting took place. Clearly, a massive cover-up took place within hours of the shooting in order to cover their tracks. And while reading this book, I still can't believe how clueless the killers' parents were. Considering the mountain of evidence, which included video tapes, diagrams and journal entries of what they planned to do, how could they not see it coming? "Son, how many times have I told you to put your pipe bombs away." Please. Unfortunately, since their testimonies are sealed until 2027, it will be a while before we know the whole story. Excellent job by the author at putting this book together, including the tips on how to spot potential school shooters and more importantly, what not to do.
This book is a well-written and easy read, but do NOT treat it as a definitive source for information about Columbine. I am very well-read on the subject and will list all the problems with this book I can think of from the top of my head.
1. Cullen claims that Harris and Klebold were not bullied when, in fact, both boys complained about bullying in their journals, and numerous acquaintances and witnesses attest to pervasive bullying - including an incident in which someone dipped tampons in ketchup and threw them at both boys during lunch.
2. He claims Harris was a psychopath. It is not possible to posthumously diagnose psychopathy.
3. He claims Harris was a ladies' man and that he "outscored the football team." In reality, Harris had many FIRST dates with girls, but they would stop talking to him because he was weird. Most problematically, Cullen claims Eric had sex with a 23-year-old woman. The woman in question is named Brenda Parker, and she admitted that she made the whole story up for attention years before this book was published.
4. He paints Klebold as a blind follower. This is untrue. Klebold actually wrote about the idea of a killing spree in his journal long before Harris ever did. Many friends of theirs also have stated that Harris actually followed Klebold's taste in music, clothes, etc.
5. Students who were there at the time of the shooting have even stated that Cullen got things wrong - most notably, paralyzed survivor Anne-Marie Hochalter has stated that Cullen got how she was injured completely wrong.
If you want an easy read that gives you a basic idea of the events that happened at Columbine and its effect on survivors and can take it all with a grain of salt, this is the book for you. If you want an in-depth lesson about the shooting and its perpetrators, "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph Larkin and "Columbine: A True Crime Story" by Jeff Kass are far better reads. To get a perspective from a survivor who was close friends with both one of the victims and one of the perpetrators, "No Easy Answers" by Brooks Brown is the book for you. I will say, however, that the accounts of the shooting itself in this book are more accurate than the accounts in books written by the parents of Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott, which claim that these girls were asked if they believed in God and shot for saying "yes." Witness testimony states that neither of these things happened and the girl who actually was asked, Valeen Schnurr, said "yes" and was left alone.
I thought this book was riveting. Cullen did a good job at pulling together a lot of disparate pieces of information and presenting it all in a very readable way. I couldn't put it down. He's an excellent writer.
I was curious about the comments by Dec. 10, 2014. It's true, Cullen didn't shape the event as being the boys' reaction to being bullying. I'll look into some of the recommended books, Dec. 10 noted on that front.
Otherwise, this book is exceptional. I was surprised there were absolutely no photos, though. For that, you have to go to Cullen's website, which has a lot of documents and photos. Otherwise, Cullen paints a pretty clear picture based on his research. The result is well worth reading.
holy crap. this is excellent. depressing and disturbing, but excellent. it made me cry on the bus a couple of times. the media completely distorted this story back when it happened.
Mr Cullen writes with a lot of clarity. When reading the book I felt like I was right there as the events were unfolding. There was so much more detail in this book than what was divulged in the media.
The most thoughtful, well-informed account ever written about the Columbine tragedy. Dave Cullen consulted hundreds of documents (many never released to the public until recently) and interviewed survivors, family members, school officials and police to assemble a nail biting reconstruction of the shootings, the killers' mentalities and the aftermath. In the process, he reveals that nearly all the common assumptions about Columbine (and school shootings in general) are wrong. The killers were neither Goths, "trench coat mafia", loners, or the victims of bullies; school shooters are less, not more, likely to play video games than other kids. While experts agree that Eric Harris was almost certainly a psychopath, Dylan Klebold comes off as a confused, depressive kid who under other circumstances might have turned his life around. A stellar work of journalism offering neither platitudes, nor easy answers.
Many of the myths portrayed through media regarding the school killings are debunked. The author provides facts and opinions from a wide array of sources.
Excellent. An exhaustive, methodical articulation of what happened that awful day at Columbine High School. Also, a sympathetic inquiry into the lives of all the people involved - but with a journalistic eye to gaining a crystal clear insight to the events.
I don't read non-fiction often, but this was definitely an exception. Dave Cullen did an amazing job. Unbiased truths.
This tragedy occurred when I was in high school and I've always wanted to know the real story beyond what the media reported at the time. I really appreciated the author's clear, thoughtful, and well researched approach. I feel much more informed having read Columbine, but I wouldn't recommend it for the faint of heart. I had a lot of scary dreams while reading this.
Dave Cullen is an amazing author. There isn't a question he doesn't answer about the tragedy. At times you feel as if you are there observing the events taking place. When he described the parents waiting as buses of evacuated kids are brought to them not knowing if their child is on the bus or one of the injured, I just sobbed.
This is an amazing piece of nonfiction. I thought I knew what happened at Columbine, but I feel that this book is as close to an inside look as we will likely get.
A very well-written book. I enjoyed getting to know more about what happened that day and what the US Government is doing to try and prevent another tragedy like that.
A very well-written, thorough account of this tragic event. The story telling was compelling without being sensationalist and the book very well structured. An enjoyable, though disturbing read.
This is great book! It is very in depth look how a tragedy ripples through a community. I am not crime junkie and still really loved it. The writer is terrific and has no biases.