Book - 2009
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"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 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 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, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world's leading forensic psychologists, and the killers' own words and drawings-several reproduced in a new appendix. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.
Publisher: New York : Twelve, 2009.
ISBN: 9780446546935
Characteristics: x, 417 p. ;,24 cm.


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Mar 20, 2019

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.

Dec 06, 2018

"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.

Dec 05, 2018

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.

Mar 29, 2016

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.

Jul 15, 2015

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.

Nov 29, 2014

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.

Aug 07, 2011

I don't read non-fiction often, but this was definitely an exception. Dave Cullen did an amazing job. Unbiased truths.

Jan 24, 2011

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.

Aug 13, 2009

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.

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