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A book by Dave Cullen

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  • Jan 21, 2010
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We all remember, or know of, what happened on April 20, 1999 at a high school in Littleton, Colorado named Columbine. Two teenagers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened gunfire on their classmates and teachers - killing 13 and injuring dozens of others.

Dave Cullen is a journalist who covered the massacre for over two years. In this book he sheds light on all the commonly held myths about what really occurred that day, and fits it all together for us in a timeline that unfolds along with our understanding of what really happened and who the killers really were.

So let me give you a rough estimate of what I remember Columbine was about (I was 20 at the time and I remember being so distraught over what was unfolding live on television - a boy dangling from a window; the students running out of the school single file with the help of the SWAT team, the tears, the memorial services). But more than anything else, I remember: two teen boys who were bullied by the cool kids (the jocks, cheerleaders, etc.), they couldn't take it anymore so they grabbed some guns (obviously because they are so easy to come by for underage kids) and decided on taking revenge on the whole lot of them. They were part of some gothic/emo club called "The Trench Coat Mafia", listened mostly to Marilyn Manson music and watched the movie The Basketball Diaries over and over for inspiration. They were loners with little to no friends and their parents weren't in the picture. At one point they actually asked one of their victims if she believed in God and upon answering "yes" she was killed.

Now here's the shocker, NONE OF THIS IS TRUE!

I think that's why I was so interested in reading this book. It's like knowing the ending of a story but needing to re-read the beginning because what you thought was right was wrong. Mr. Cullen gives you extensive "insider" information on not just the killers and their victims, but the parents of both, the teachers, the lack of organization with the school and the foul-ups from the law enforcement, the easy access to firearms, the willingness of authorities/adults to overlook signs that might have avoided the whole thing. He even gives you detailed information on the extensive journals, videos, and online postings that were left behind by both Eric and Dylan.

I will confess that this is not a happy book - obviously you know how it all ends. And I will confess to feeling sad, outraged, scared and even depressed while reading it. I couldn't sleep all that well and just kept thinking about it over and over. Who were the Harris's & Klebold's of MY school... and was I on a list somewhere? Or could I have been Harriet? (Harriet = a girl that Dylan obsessively mentions in his diaries; a dream girlfriend).

I had to Google the whole thing since there were no pictures throughout the book (which annoyed me at first - I would have settled for a map of the school). In the end I think the lack of pictures gave it a more serious tone.

It is still a touchy subject, but we all know the Columbine massacre is something that will always remain in our heads -- you might as well know the real story. I know that this book might not be for everyone, but for someone who is interested in getting the facts about America's most notorious school shooting, this is definitely the book you'll want to read. It is well-written, gripping and in the end, enlightening.

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review by . May 02, 2010
I still remember sitting in front of the TV on the morning of April 21st, 1999, as I did every morning before leaving for school. I was 15 and had just started my 10th grade in a school in Dubai. Columbine was on every news channel that day. It was scary. A crime, the kind of which I had not heard of. It made me realize that even schools weren't safe. I had not given it a thought before, but the news of that day acutely sharpened my antennae.     Columbine by Dave Cullen, was …
review by . June 24, 2010
Why?      A simple question but one with no real answer. A question which many people asked in the aftermath of that day, April 20, 1999, when two students opened fire on their fellow classmates at Columbine High School, killing 13 and injuring 24. The answer to "why?" was very elusive; one which some people may have simply shrugged off. I believe that the answer has been provided in Dave Cullen's outstanding book, Columbine. Exhaustively researched over the course …
review by . September 02, 2009
Quickly…what do you know about the Columbine school shootings from 10 years ago?  Here’s what I knew: The shooters snapped one day and went on a rampage; they were picked on a lot by the school jocks and, therefore, targeted them, their family lives were horrendous and they chose April 20th because of Hitler’s birthday. Is that about the same as your list?  Well, if so…we were wrong, and this book proves it. I have now been reviewing non-fiction books here for …
review by . July 10, 2010
In many ways, the Columbine school shootings have the same milestone effect on society as do events like 9/11 or the Oklahoma City bombing. Columbine forever changed the way we look at school safety and the mental health of students. But unfortunately, much of what we "remember" about the event is inaccurate due to media hype and official stonewalling. Dave Cullen reveals the actual story behind the events with exhaustive research in his book Columbine. When I finished reading, I had to seriously …
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2010
The actual columbine pictures are quite historical. I recommend taking a look.
Quick Tip by . May 25, 2010
Best Non-Fiction Book in a LONG Time!
Quick Tip by . May 19, 2010
Scary, yet objective study of the boys behind Columbine. Some weird typos & grammar errors, though.
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Nely Sanchez ()
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I review books as a hobby for my personal blog - All About {n} which can be found at www.bookwormygirl.com. There you can find all sorts of book reviews, book giveaways and just random bookish events, … more
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Starred Review. 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)
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ISBN-10: 0446546933
ISBN-13: 978-0446546935
Author: Dave Cullen
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Publisher: Twelve
Date Published: April 6, 2009
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