Columbine

by Dave Cullen | Nonfiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: 0446546933 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingFiregirlwing of Tucson, Arizona USA on 6/16/2012
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Journal Entry 1 by wingFiregirlwing from Tucson, Arizona USA on Saturday, June 16, 2012
From back cover: On April 20, 1999, two boys went to their high school with bombs and guns. Their goal was to leave "a lasting impression on the world." The horror they inflected left an indelible stamp on the American psyche.

Now in this definitive account, Dave Cullen presents a compelling and utterly human profile of teenage killers. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries. This close-up portrait of violence, a community rendered helpless, and police blunders and cover-ups is an unforgettable cautionary tale for our time.

Journal Entry 2 by wingFiregirlwing at Annandale, Virginia USA on Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Laura Wenger's review Aug 06, 12  ·  edit

bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read from July 22 to August 03, 2012

This is a truly brilliant, exhaustively researched, fascinating, easily-digestible piece of journalism. A five star book for me, for sure, and easily the best non-fiction I've read in quite some time. I'm currently having a hard time fully enjoying any of the five books I've got going now as they all pale in comparison. In the interest of full disclosure I should note that I do have a personal, albeit brief, connection to Columbine, having at one time been friends with the principal's son and having met Mr. D himself in his basement roughly six months after the massacre. That was definitely part of why I wanted to read this, but I also have a fascination with the human psyche and a intense desire to know what drives people to commit such heinous acts. I knew from the beginning that the idea of Dylan and Eric being "Gothic freaks seeking revenge" was ridiculous. I know too many freaks of all types, including Goth, for that to make any sense at all.

Considering the outpouring of immediate information (much, if not most of it false) concerning the massacre, I really appreciate Cullen's dedication in uncovering the truth. He put in ten years of research, coming through piles of evidence including journals, photos, videos, autopsy reports, etc. and interviewing anyone related to the event who would sit still long enough. (Most of his source information including crime scene photos, police documentation, and video clips can be seen at the book's related website.) He truly wanted to understand, to dispel rumors and myths, to present a fair, truthful, and mostly unopinionated account of what happened. (His own feelings on "why" are evident, but well supported and, really, I can't fault him for them leaking out, and not just because I happen to agree with him. I don't know that I'd want to read something someone researched for this long if they didn't have some kind of obvious emotional response.)

The format Cullen uses took a brief period of getting used to, but I really liked it in the end. He alternated chapter between those leading up to the massacre and those describing what happened after, including the investigation. It is carefully done so that it all comes to the same point by the end of the book. His writing style was excellent for me as well. I have read descriptions of the book that include he phrase "a non-fiction novel", and I think that is very apt. The story unfolds like fiction and is written so casually at times that it just flows along. Cullen utilities slang and casual structure to mirror that of the killers' own language, employing phases such as "this was going to be fucking bad-ass" (not an actual quote, but you get the idea). It gives the book a real human (and, at times, an appropriately teenage) voice that keeps it from being too stuffy or dry.

It is a size able book at over 400 pages, but I can't imagine anything being left out. Cullen investigates every aspect, including those victims the general public seems to have mostly ignored, including boys' parents and siblings, the principal, and the wife of the one teacher killed. He covers all the rumors, theories and myths, including the Trench Coat Mafia, the concept of the boys being vengeful losers, and the oft-heralded Cassie Bernall. He follows all the main characters up to the time of publication, leaving no one out.

This is an amazingly powerful book. It is no wonder Cullen is considered the foremost expert on the Columbine killings. I am very eager to see what he tackles next.

Released 4 mos ago (6/2/2021 UTC) at In the Wild in Somewhere in the USA, -- Wild Released somewhere in USA -- USA

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