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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 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 came to stockpile a basement cache of weapons, to record their raging hatred, and to manipulate 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 boy's tapes and diaries, he gives the first complete account of the Columbine tragedy.
In the tradition of HELTER SKELTER and IN COLD BLOOD, COLUMBINE is destined to be a classic. A close-up portrait of hatred, a community rendered helpless, and the police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers-an unforgettable cautionary tale for our times.
- Big Red Flags Nobody Paid Attention!!!!!!
ColumbineI have been glued to my book from the first page. It's amazing that we hear about school shootings or just a "shooting" and we are so quick wonder why this person or person could do such a horrific act. Then we go about our lives.
After reading all the background details of what led up do this senseless attack. I found out that there were so many many WARNINGS!!! that some people lives were going be affected and changed forever.
I know from this moment on I will be very very AWARE of the peoples around me. I will never take for grant it about people's anger and threats.
BRAVO to Dave Cullen for taking the time to give us the true complete story....more info
- Bring Your Daughter, Bring Your Daughter...To The Slaughter!!!! Let Her Go!!!! Let Her Go!!!! Let Her Go!!!!
There are some books which seek to provoke thought. There are other books which seek to stir up discussions. Still, there are other books which seek to inform and shed light on little-known aspects or correct untruth. I'm disgusted beyond belief to report that Dave Cullen's book falls into none of the aforementioned categories as it's primarily a book planned with two, baser-than-base motives: Exploitation, making money and shock value! Whoops, my bad! That's actually three, baser-than-base motives, egads! So...Cullen's book actually falls into the infamous category of Tragedy-Exploitation. That's a fact, Jack, and if you refuse to grasp this, then read on in my review, by whose end I will have convincingly persuaded you to see things my way 100%.
This book, in all its exploitative glory, is basically peddled by Cullen as one which painstakingly tries to get into the minds of the killers, Harris and Klebold (heretofore referred to only in the most non-politically correct phrase of "the cowardly murderers who are now burning in hell for an eternity"), and analyze their actions to see what, oh what, motivated these then-young lads into becoming frighteningly grisly spree murderers. That automatically begs the question WHY?! Just why, oh WHY, should anyone in their right or otherwise everlovin' minds give even one ounce of a proverbial cr*p as to why teenage losers Harris and Klebold--erm, my bad, I mean the cowardly murderers who are now burning in hell for an eternity--were motivated to engage in one of the worst school-shootings in US history?
I mean, the reason no one should give so much as half a cr*p is because the country has, for the most part, already learned to a great extent what the reaction should be to try and preempt such further episodes of school carnage. According to the author himself, in part thanks to lessons learned from Columbine, authorities have learned four, important things. These are: there isn't a distinct, psychological profile of the school-killer; information in the form of "leakage" will precede school-shootings; students and teachers must better prepare for school-shootings through lockdown drills and evacuations, along with better floor plans for police; and a revolution in police response tactics which includes but is not limited to a concept called "active shooter protocol" should be implemented. Again, with all these lessons learned and in place to avoid future Columbines, the agenda of Cullen becomes even MORE mysterious, and smart and alert people will want to know WHY? the need for this book.
Answer: There IS NO NEED for this book...unless you count the underhanded tactics of timing the book's release with the Columbine massacre's 10th Anniversary Celebration; the exploitation to make money off this disaster; and the unsettling, liberal ideology of the author to "understand" the killers better.
That's really what Cullen's fiasco of a book comes down to in all its infamous glory: a book designed to sympathize with Harris and Klebold instead of rightly blaming them for the massacres, by virtue of trying to see things...wait for it everyone...from their point of view! Isn't that just disturbing? I know it sure as hell disturbs the living bejeezus out of me that Cullen has basically--like some kind of obsessed fanatic--spent the better part of the last 10 years meticulously and torturously combing through every fine detail of Columbine (police reports, lawsuits, depositions, photos, tapes, etc.) only to come up with this diabolical conclusion: The massacre is not Harris and Klebold's fault, NO! Rather, they were just "born evil," and that's all there is in my staggeringly fatalistic view of the world, folks!
Seriously, people, Cullen actually presents the cold-blooded psychopaths in Harris and Klebold in something coming close to a positive light. He does this by humanizing them, which is the worst atrocity he as an author could do. The tactic he uses to do this is to basically show how the murderers were like everyone else: They apparently had lots of friends and weren't picked-on outcasts; apparently loved their parents; worked after-school jobs; and got good grades. This fools the reader into empathizing with these two subhumans, which is waaaaay too liberal a slant for this reviewer!
Cullen's sick premise is absolutely to curry sympathy for Harris and Klebold, something that liberals are 100% experts at. When I read Cullen's censurable work where he goes out of his way to really paint the two monsters as "normal," this reminded me of all the evil, liberal judges in out-of-control states like Vermont, for instance, who also love to humanize evil in our society (like child molesters) by misconstruing their problem as a mere "sickness" and calling them the real victims instead of the people they hurt. Likewise, Cullen does a huge disservice to the dead and wounded students at Columbine by humanizing Harris and Klebold.
Cullen's liberal-ideology humanizing of Harris and Klebold is a far cry from how a conservative (read: a normal person) would interpret Columbine. The conservative properly doesn't give a damn about what the little, teeny "feelings" of Harris and Klebold were, or "where they were coming from" when they executed their own peers, no! The conservative, possessing moral clarity, realizes that Harris and Klebold were pure evil and recognizes that only they, and they alone, were to blame for the massacre because they painstakingly planned it and pulled the triggers. Further, the conservative cares about being proactive and stopping such future killers. In sharp contrast to the empathizing-with-killers, liberal author Cullen, the conservative would do the level-headed thing and push for both schools and police to have more clampdown power on students and adopt a policy of "better safe than sorry" to prevent future Columbines. The conservative would also, being reason-driven and solution-oriented (in sharp contrast to the liberal author who wants to get in touch with Harris' and Klebold's "feelings" to understand their point of view in all this!), opt to give guns to faculty and even to certain qualifying students for the all-noble purpose of self-defense!
That's right. You heard me loud and clear, reader: I would gladly hand out guns not only to faculty members but also to qualified and proven-stable students at ANY high school, so to better increase the chances that future school-shooters like Harris and Klebold are stopped (no pun intended!) DEAD in their tracks before things get chaotically out of hand. Picture this, everybody. Future SOB, teenage-losers like Harris and Klebold walk into a high-school cafeteria with some automatic assault rifles, hellbent on killing anything--fellow students, teachers, class pets, whatever--because they're pure evil and also selfish b*stards who want to take everyone down with them, yet they are foiled in their tracks when they realize that all their fellow students plus faculty members in the cafeteria have simultaneously drawn their OWN GUNS, because everyone responsibly agreed at the start of the school year that arming oneself was the best way to prevent future Columbines. Well, what the hell do you think would happen, huh? Do you really think that future Harris' and Klebold's would get away with killing several of their own students and teachers while wounding dozens of others? Hell, no, gang!!! What would happen is that their cold, dead, lifeless bodies would be rightly dragged from the cafeteria thanks to the shoot-`em up team effort of their school community which decided that being proactive is the best way to stop future Columbines!
The issue of arming responsible students and faculty members should've been THE ONLY conclusion that this liberal, yellow journalist of an author came to, but of course he didn't, that ideologue. In addition to this utter failure of what his conclusion ought to have been, this book will forever be tainted by the author's flagrant plot to exploit this tragedy by making money off of it. It's just skin-crawling in how peculiar it is that this author released this book riiiiight before the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Columbine. My Gawd! It's like he obsessively slaved over this book for years, gathering all the evidence of the case, just so he could unload a cash-in to exploit the 10-year anniversary! Nice! You know, what? Now that I've thought about it for another second, that's actually exactly what the author did.
The last criticism of this dreadful book is the author's sadistic indulgence in being excessively graphic in his vibrant descriptions of the school-shooting scenes. It's almost a scarily good metaphor to compare his graphic scenes with other lustfully extreme scenes in torture-p*rn movies like the Hostel or Saw series because of his exorbitant misuse of details to shock. An example, you ask? Why, here's an excerpt:
"One bullet got him in the back. It tore through his rib cage and exited through his chest. The other bullet entered through the side of his neck and came out his mouth, lacerating his tongue and shattering several teeth. The neck wound opened up one of his carotid arteries, the major blood routes to the brain. The shot to his back clipped his subclavian vein, a major vessel back to the heart. There was a lot of blood."...more info
- Gripping read. An important book.
I bought this book a week ago and finished it today. It is a masterpiece of investigative reporting: an endangered American art, but one necessary to our national soul -- especially in cases like this one.
I am a former middle school and colleage teacher, parent of two, aunt of nine. One of my favorite sayings is that I have never met a bad kid. After reading this book, I realize for the first time two things. First, that I could be wrong, and remain unaware of the darkness in the heart of someone I've met; and second, that it probably doesn't matter. The final impression this book leaves with me is one of gratitude, in the words of survivor Patrick Ireland, for "the loving world".
Dave Cullen approaches his subject with both clarity and sympathy, and each profile he presents -- of student, teacher, administrator, parent, victim, law enforcement official, or killer -- is full and human. I learned so much from this book: what terror does to memory, the role determination plays in recovery, how hard people can work when they are working for one another ... and how good a story can be when a well-informed author really tells it, in all its component parts.
Thanks and blessings to Dave Cullen. ...more info
- Exceptional in every way
Very well written. Humanely debunking. From current thinking about the minds of psychopaths to media and police misbehavior to religion and the manifold foibles of our culture, this book roams far beyond the crime story. I couldn't put it down; every page was well worth the reading.
I very highly recommend it....more info
- One of the best and most important books of 2009
A must read for anyone interested in how Americans live their lives.
One of the very best books of the year, I can't recommend this one highly enough. Though you may not "enjoy" reading about the two mass murderers, the book is incredibly well written and insightful: and provides a thorough and balanced look at the town, school, parents, kids, and killers....more info
- Ripped Off
Seller never sent my item, also ripped off several other people as well. Will never make purchase on this site again !!!...more info
This book was excellent. I have read quite a bit about Columbine, and I feel like this book is the most thorough, complete covering of the tragedy. There are those who will dispute Cullen's conclusions, but history isn't exact. History isn't as scientific as mathematics and there will always be varying perspectives. However, I believe that as a whole, his book tells the most complete, accurate story of Columbine. He helps provide insight into why the killers did what they did. There will never be a conclusive, absolute answer as to why they did what they did, but Cullen's book comes as close as I believe we will ever get. For anyone that wants to learn about the Columbine tragedy, this book is more thorough and complete than anything else that has been written about the subject. I highly recommend it and believe Dave Cullen knows more about the subject than anyone out there....more info
- "Good wombs have borne bad sons"-a metaphor for Columbine
I received this book with much anticipation, as I have heard it described as the best true crime book of 2009. After reading the above book, I agree with that description and more.
Two recent events stand out in my mind as a 38 year old. The first, the tragedy of the failed bombing/shooting of Columbine school, that I repeatedly saw on the news. Watching the footage of Columbine showed repeatedly on television drove me to tears. The second was the bombing of the Towers on September 11, 2001, six weeks after the birth of my oldest son. That event made me realize what a dangerous world I had just brought my beautiful son into, and how I could only protect him from so much of it.
The book Columbine debuncts many myths that I have held true over the years. I firmly beleived in the Cassie Bernall story (known as the girl who said yes when asked by one of the killers to the question "Do you beleive in God?") and had no idea that it actually happened to a survivor of the Columbine massacre. I also beleived that both boys were severely bullied. Evidence supports that they were the bullies, and not the other way around. I also thought that the killers were members of the Trench Coat Maffia, when in fact the future killers Dylan and Eric wore trenchcoats to hide the weapons that day.
The stories of the victims of the shootings, and the family members of the victims, were particularly touching to me. The story of Patrick Ireland-severely injured in Columbine, but who recovered and became valedictorian of Columbine-particularly touched me. Also, the story of Linda Sanders-the wife of the teacher Dave Sanders, who heroically tried to save students, and was shot and bled to death in Columbine, was particularly touching.
I also felt tremendous anger. Eric Harris had been on the police radar for months, had had juvenile charges, and was reported again and again by one family as being threatening to them yet a search warrant was never taken out on the Harris house. There was a police coverup on knowledge of Eric's activities (pipe bombs, a threatening website that named a person he wanted to kill) that could have put Eric Harris (really the ringleader for Columbine) behind bars before Columbine ever happened. That part of the book was very difficult for me to read and to understand.
Reading the transcript of the video tapes that were left behind by Dylan and Eric were riveting. Reading the violent, disgusting and narcissitic tapes fueled by rage really upset me, but helped me understand the motivation of the killers. The quote of this book review was said by Eric in one of the tapes and is from Shakespere. He quoted it as if to absolve his parents of all responsibilities from the upcoming massacre.
Emotionally, I felt drained as I read and completed this book. To me, the sign of a truly artistic work is that it makes you feel emotion as you experience it, which is what this work does. If you only read one true crime book a year, definately read this one, as it will make you think long after you finish reading it. ...more info
- Good investigative work
Dave Cullen has done an outstanding job of presenting the facts of the Columbine tragedy. A good read....more info
- Riveting account on tragic event well worth reading
April 20, 2009 marked the tenth year anniversary of the school shootings in Colorado in the high school of Columbine. No one alive at that time will ever forget when two students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris burst into their school killing twelve students and a teacher and injuring twenty-one others before they eventually turned the guns on themselves, ending the massacre that became one of the top deadliest in our nation's history.
Author and journalist, Dave Cullen, who is considered to be a leading authority on the Columbine school shootings, has not only written a riveting detailed account of this tragedy, but has quickly drawn the reader in by getting to the root of this evil, and attempting to answer the question in everyone's mind, why did this happen? Cullen's extensive research and interviews expertly describe the most convincing answer, psychopathy. Now, this may not be what our society wants to hear, especially since many believed it to be a myriad of reasons, including bullying, bad parenting or evil music and video games. However, the detailed explanations provided in this book from videos and journals created by the killers, to extensive detailed interviews of other key persons, leaves nothing else but psychopathy as the most obvious reason for committing such an atrocity against innocent students and faculty. Columbine is an intense read that is often times difficult to fathom the vivid events and heartbreaking details as a real event, but it is written so well that the information, no matter how hard it is to believe is thoroughly documented and explained....more info
- Ten years later
Revisiting the Columbine tragedy is not for the faint of heart and Dave Cullen's solid new book about the subject is often a tough read. It retraces the day of the shootings, the lead-up to it and the ensuing problems faced by students and parents after the April 20, 1999 massacre. Cullen gives a good historical perspective but his focus on the minds and methods of the killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, sets this book on a higher plane.
Trying to get inside the heads of Harris and Klebold is risky business yet Cullen manages to explain it as well as anyone. It doesn't relieve the somewhat less than mature narrative style the author utilizes (the one major downside of the book) but it allows the reader to better understand motive and psychopathy. The side stories are excellent (Cassie Bernall and the killers' parents, to name two) and the continuation of the misfortunes of so many who are connected with Columbine is wonderfully covered. This book is certainly worth the read and I recommend it....more info
- Lest We Forget
This was a very tough book to read, and I mean that as the highest compliment. Dave Cullen has taken a subject that, though all too familiar, has been so wrapped in its own mythology that most readers, myself included, will be shocked at some of the revelations -- and accusations -- made within.
Cullen's tone deftly switches between the pain felt by the victims and survivors of the tragedy, to the chilling hatred and emotional detachment of mastermind Eric Harris as he carefully plans his massacre. While reading like grotesque fiction, the aim throughout is one of righting past wrongs. Cullen blames himself, and journalists like him, for the original sins of the on-the-scene reporting from Columbine: incorrectly ascribing motives (the famed "nerds vs. jocks vengeance"), parroting false information (e.g. a girl being gunned down after she admitted to her faith in God), and attempting to place the blame on anything -- violent video games, Marilyn Manson -- besides the two shooters themselves.
Eric Harris, as revealed in his own words, was a clinical psychopath, and while Cullen reveals the negligence of the Jefferson County sheriff's department -- which had ample evidence to arrest Harris on pre-Columbine crimes -- it's clear that nothing could have prevented him from eventually lashing out. His accomplice, Dylan Klebold, was a deeply depressed young man who followed Harris' lead largely to fulfill his own fantasies of suicide.
Reading this book with the benefit of hindsight, what is most chilling is not that Columbine was a national tragedy -- that much is obvious -- but that it has already been eclipsed by subsequent shootings. Our best hope to prevent future disasters is to look back at Columbine with fresh eyes, unhindered by emotions, and understand what *really* happened.
This book is the first step in that process. It cannot be the last....more info
just started reading Columbine it had received great reviews so that peaked my curiosity like the writer's style and will get back to you in a week to give the final analysis so far it's very good...more info
- Poorly done and Awful.
The book is not that well written to start off. I have a lot of problems with this book. One being that it doesn't really go in depth as it should have. It bounces back and forth from beginning to end about Eric and Dylan's last 2 years and how they "planned" the attack. The book constantly talks about Cassie Bernall(who didn't die a martyr since the girl who did answer the question "do you believe in God" is actually still alive..but anyway) It doesn't stop talking about her. Which was Annoying! A few other victims are named but not all of them. My question is why not? this book was like an article and it left you with nothing more than what's already in online articles. Nothing personal was felt, no information that was different from what's already out there. I thought the book was awful. ...more info
- Columbine -- more than you wanted to know about it
I purchased this book based on a favorable NYT review, and eagerly opened its pages. Of course we all want to know: why did they do it? and how could this terrible, terrible tragedy have been averted? The author does a fine job of indicating why: Eric was a psychopath and Dylan, in Eric's thrall, was seriously depressed. He does a less good job at exploring how this could have been prevented. I personally believe there were so many blaring signs that something was seriously wrong (including what the boys' own parents should have noticed in their bedrooms, in the garage, at their web sites, etc., had they only opened their eyes), that it's really a travesty that noone stopped them. Plus the ready availability of heavy weaponry and advice on the Internet about how to create a bomb didn't help. All that having been said, the book gets seriously boring half-way through. And the author does an awful lot of imagining what might have happened and then reporting it as fact. His indictment of both local law enforcement and the media is probably well deserved, but a little heavy-handed. I'd give it a C+....more info
- Great Book
This was a really well written account of Columbine. Cudos to the author. It was thought out, well documented and brought to light alot of things that I had never heard before. I really liked that he documented his notes and sources. This was a horrible tragedy for the whole nation, really. I feel horribly sorry for the parents of Dylan and Eric. I was happy to see that there were people to support them. To first of all have your children do something like this and then to have them kill themselves must feel like a nightmare you can never wake up from. My hero in this was Patrick, the boy who had to fight his way back from a stroke and his ankle not being set correctly. They were all heroes that went through this, don't get me wrong, to have lived through this horrible massacre, but he especially touched my heart. I read the People article how some students who were there when this happened, have gone back to teach at Columbine. How awesome is that.
I highly recommend this book. You will not be disappointed. ...more info
- 10 years of research...and it shows
A very cogent and objective narrative on the events at Columbine. The author does a fantastic job balancing all aspects of the tragedy. One has a much better idea of what happened and more importantly why. I've always thought that it would be relatively impossible to know what would motivate killers such as these; Dave Cullen allowed me to rethink that notion and come away with a much better understanding. He also does a tremendous job of illustrating the aftermath of survivors and the community as a whole. The entire story from start to finish is here.The author shows an insight, compassion and understanding to these events. I found this book extremely fascinating and scary. I think this is thus far the definitive work on this topic....more info
- Written from Index Cards
I agree with Mr. Houser. This book reads like a set of index cards have been put in order, reordered, and strung together consecutively to form a narrative that does not flow well. The disappointing result is that it's not a compelling book. It feels like reading a term paper.
- Compelling and Compassionate
In his book about the Columbine High School massacre, Dave Cullen takes a very objective and compassionate look back at the events leading up to and those that have occurred since the tragedy. From the first line of the first chapter, Mr. Cullen drives the reader to the end, never lessening the pace, never taking a side and never leaving a thread hanging. This book is horrifying... not for the faint at heart. But for those working with kids, this book is a must....more info
- Excellent, heart breaking and eye opening!
Columbine is one of those words that when you hear it, an instant image comes to mind. It is in our lexicon alongside 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. For far too long it was a story that had too many inaccuracies and one where the media help to pursue myth over fact. Dave Cullen does an amazing job of destroying a series of myths that needed to be destroyed.
I think one of the great things he does in this book is to make both perpetrators the villains they should so rightly be, without demonizing their families. He does a very credible job of showing how they were basically psychopaths on a suicide spree who are rightly remembered as pathetic losers who killed people much better than them. I think Cullen is right to spend a great deal of time analyzing them but at the same time showing them for the evil human beings they really are.
Cullen also does a great job of portraying the victims without making them out to be saints and in one case he takes the very careful step of debating if one person really was the martyr she was later claimed to be, without bashing those who believe she was or wasn't. He also does a wonderful job at showing how hard it was for some people to adjust to the after effects without making it seem like they were cold or overly emotional. Lastly, he shows how the police spent more time covering up for their own blunders then they did trying to examine the case and learn from it.
All in all, this is a very good read and I would strong recommend it for someone who wants not only great analysis of a still controversial story, but for those who want to see what really happened at Columbine. ...more info
- If we do not understand our past, we will repeat it
This book on Columbine is most definitive answer I have read. Difficult to read but important to understanding how terror and destruction can happen. Although at the end, still question of why....more info
- A clear-headed account, much needed
In prose that is both brisk and colloquial, Dave Cullen illuminates the Columbine tragedy in a manner no other journalist has since April 20, 1999. Though Columbine is traditionally thought of as the archetypal "school shooting," Cullen forcefully argues--with a wealth of documentary evidence to back him up--that it was truly neither. It was intended as a bombing--domestic terrorism on a grand scale--and the killers merely chose the target with which they were most familiar: their own high school.
Cullen tells the story twice. The first part of the book is a fairly chronological unfolding of events, beginning with the Columbine principal's exhortation to seniors to be careful during Prom weekend (Columbine's prom took place the weekend preceding the shooting). This is the way most Americans saw the story played out: terrified teenagers running out of the school with their hands in the air and vague stories of angry and troubled Trenchcoat Mafia members taking aim at those who bullied them.
Then, masterfully balancing three storylines, Cullen retells the story, deftly juggling the horrifying events of the actual shooting, the lives of Klebold and Harris in the year leading up to the murders, and the stories of the survivors themselves. This three-pronged approach could be confusing in the hands of a lesser writer, but Cullen's approach works: with each chapter, a clear, focused, and horrifying picture emerges, and you feel you finally understand what happened and--as much as is humanly possible--why.
Cullen paints fascinating portraits of the killers themselves: the remorseless and reptilian Harris and the volatile, malleable, and ultimately pathetic Klebold. He also tells the stories of the survivors, particularly Patrick Ireland and Linda Sanders (widow of teacher Dave Sanders) in a straightforward way, understanding that the mere facts of their experience are enough to generate our sympathy. The chapter on the very private--in fact, almost secretive--funeral service for Dylan Klebold is particularly heartrending.
There are many Columbine stories: police ineptitude and corruption, the media's haste to ascribe motives to two boys they knew nothing about, the story of Cassie Bernall's supposed martyrdom in the Columbine library, the students heroic efforts to save teacher Dave Sanders, the lawsuits that emerged in the months after the tragedy--it's all here. In a mere 400 pages, Cullen helps us understand how each part relates to the other. An impressive achievement....more info
Ten years ago we experienced the tragedy we have come to know as "Columbine". I have spent the last ten years wondering what those boys were like and what drove them to do what they did. I have waited 10 years for this book. I was not disappointed. Mr. Cullen's account is even handed and thurough. Mr. Cullen's research is extraordinary. He debunks many of the myths that have grown up around this tragedy. This is one of the BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR!!!...more info
An outstanding book, well written and the author made you feel as though you could see and feel what happened....more info
Not terribly impressed with this book. Perhaps it was the writing style that put me off, but I did not care for the way the information was presented. If you want to read an amazing book on Columbine, check out No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine. It's written by Rob Merrit & Brooks Brown. Brooks knew Dylan & Eric personally, & this book gave much more of an insiders glance at the lives of these young men....more info
- The myths and lies of Columbine are exposed with acutely thorough rawness in this provocatively exceptional manifesto
Dave Cullen is not only a master of storytelling, he writies with the expertise of a seasoned detective, criminalist, and forensic specialist, all at the same time. If you thought you understood the twisted reasons behind Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's long planned-out war on humanity and subsequent massacre at Columbine High, then you've been completely fooled. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. Cullen is sinfully thorough with the facts he lays bare in his book and is like a scholar in his ability to put everything together. The timeline and countdown to the Columbine disaster erupts the moment Eric Harris is brought into this world and it is obvious Cullen has completed an overwhelming but exceptional journey through the massive amounts of reseach. This is one of the saddest and most frightening stories I've ever read and Cullen's writing ability feels very secure at every twist and turn in this epic of psychopathy, depression, desperation, greed, stupidity, anger, and unequivocal empathy. A MUST READ!Columbine...more info
This is hands down the best book I've read this month! It's the most comprehensive account of this tragic episode. This author is dogged in his attempt to understand each and every entity involved at Columbine, sharing each piece of information objectively. He is an immensely talented writer. It was a revelatory experience. I will read it again one day......when the account has eased in my minds' eye. ...more info
- Fascinating book, revealing major misconceptions in our views of the shooting.
I'm not sure what else I can add to the excellent reviews already posted here. I could not put down this book. Cullen writes with authority, yet compassion. He destroys misconceptions that have lived on in the ten years since the school shooting: the killers were not picked-on loners, there was no plot to kill Christians and jocks, they were not part of the "Trench Coat Mafia," Cassie Bernall was not a Christian martyr, etc.
Accounts of the killers (mostly Eric Harris) plotting to destroy not only the school, but also the world, were positively chilling to read. Harris was a cunning, shrewd psychopath who experienced (almost) no empathy or remorse. He conned everyone in his way. Klebold was a depressive with suicidal tendencies. These personality traits played off one another, culminating in that day in April. Reading about Harris's cold-heartedness in particular was disturbing, yet enlightening.
All in all, a wonderful, fascinating read that offers new insights into the shooting....more info
- The Definitive Book
Forget what you think you know about Columbine. You will get the true story and much, much more after you read this book. Dave Cullen had to do a job of research! This book is absolutely riveting which makes it hard to put down. It goes way beyond just the day of the shooting. You will learn not only about Eric and Dylan but also other people affected by it too. The story is gruesome, the writing is superb! Put this on your "To Read" list. This story will stay with you long after you are finished reading it. A lot of the stories of the people whose lives were impacted by the shooting are heartbreaking, gut wrenching and one is a story of triumph! All makes for one powerful read! I loved this book and highly recommend it--give it 50 stars!...more info
- A Place to Begin
I ordered Columbine with some trepidation. I was sitting in an office in Boulder on April 20, 1999, and I learned the next day that one of my employees was a graduate of the Trench Coat Mafia. Having been treated to the bullying and entitlement of successful football jocks myself fifty years ago, I bought the whole myth behind what happened on that tragic day in the Denver burbs. And three years later, I moved to Englewood, only a long walk from Clement Park and the scene of the attack.
I haven't read any of the other books, because I thought I knew what I needed to know. Now, with Cullen's account, I think I grasp what happened that day with a new, unprejudiced eye.
This is not a first-hand account, though Cullen relies heavily on first-hand accounts to supplement exhaustive research through the tens of thousands of pages of evidence. It doesn't have a personal agenda (beyond the reasonable one of making some money for his labors). It doesn't challenge the myths with rhetoric but with evidence. And it accounts for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in a way that is convincing but certainly not, as some have claimed, comforting. It doesn't demonize anyone, though the police emerge as incompetent and self-serving. But again, that judgment rests on facts, the most telling of which is the fate of the teacher who bled to death during the two hours the Police spent tiptoeing through the school AFTER Harris and Klebold committed suicide.
One remarkable thing about the book is that Cullen finds a "good story" to tell, to palliate the horrors. Patrick Ireland's recovery from his injuries is heroic, and his story is woven through the tragedies. You will read complaints about the book's structure; it ain't so. By switching back and forth between the crime itself -- planned for a year and executed with an ineptitude we can only be grateful for -- and the aftermath, Cullen avoids false climaxes and sensationalism.
That said, I have a quibble with Cullen's conclusions that I have to raise. He presents convincing evidence that a clinical psychopath has a neurological disorder, and that Harris was a casebook psychopath. I can accept all that, including the belated diagnosis of Harris, which is backed up by respected experts in the sciences of the mind. But no, failure of empathy is not JUST a neurological disability. We learn empathy, growing it in a fertile field Harris may have lacked. Empathy is not a zero-sum fact (you have it, or you don't), it's situational.
For example, I have deep empathy for animals, but there is no question that my level of empathy is governed by species identities. I treat mammals the way I treat people. But every morning I wash the ants who accumulated overnight on the edge of my dog's food dish down the drain without a second thought. I'm not proud of it, and I could make the intellectual effort to extend empathic behavior to them, but the fact remains that my empathy for dogs is "instinctive," not a conscious decision.
A trivial comparison, perhaps, but I think not. There is no question in my mind that the victims of the Holocaust -- Jews, Gypsies, gays, Slavs -- met their fate because in some visceral way their suffering didn't matter to people. We can educate ourselves to care, though, and that is a duty we all have to life.
- Frustratingly Underdone, Oversimplified, and Overrated
My birthday is April 19, so ever since the Waco incident, then the Oklahoma City bombing, it's always a little scary. And this senseless massacre was supposed to be on April 19, the third disaster I've watched on television around 4/19 and among the most memorable because of the coverage, before and after.
I think the problem with this book is that the author wanted to try to write in the style of Capote's IN COLD BLOOD. But I don't object to his eschewing straight exposition. His skipping around and his "novelistic" devices are mostly effective. More than a few times, I was moved to tears by reading the author's treatment of the tragedy and heroism of many of the victims, school officials, parents, and others. One of the most impressive of the characters is a pastor in what we now call "mainstream Protestant churches", Don Marxhausen, who helped the Klebold family and a few friends hold a memorial service for Dylan Klebold. And to his credit, Cullen, like Capote, manages somehow to make the reader feel the pain of one of the two villains, and even though the reader already knows the outcome, it's almost like Dylan really tried to stop the event.
So it's a pretty gripping read in spite of the problems. So what are they?
The most glaring one is that the book really needs some graphic depictions of the Columbine school layout. Cullen offers verbal detail about the plan, the school building, parking lots, etc. that are helpful in understanding what happened as well as what was intended to happen, but it's had to picture the scene without photos or diagrams. And this is related to some of the most important criticism of how the situation was handled by police and SWAT teams. It's fairly clear now that the police and SWAT teams should have been more aggressive over the course of almost three hours, especially since for most of that time the killers were already dead.
Along the same lines is the failure to explain in detail how the bombs and weapons worked or did not work. For people like me who know nothing about guns, it would have been helpful to have some more detail.
I think Cullen is probably right for the most part about the character of Harris and Klebold, but there are maddeningly few details. Did either have a teacher/mentor who might shed some light on what happened? The closest we get is the creative writing teacher who read a disturbing story by Dylan not long before the event. And by the way, if Cullen could not include the short story, at least he should explain why not. It's clear that the story was released to the public, so where is it?
And while Cullen refers to the Virginia Tech shootings from a few years ago, why does he not also refer to the scary story written by that shooter? When Cullen refers to photos, such as those of Eric and Dylan, why aren't they included in the book? There are no photos, no diagrams, no maps for those of us who wanted to have more information.
Then there is the problem of inconsistency. I remember many of these kids from the early television coverage, victims and survivors. Among the victims, I recall Daniel Mauser because he was a little geeky (and this should have played into Cullen's thesis that the killers were NOT out to kill jocks) and also because his father, Tom Mauser, became an activist against assault weapons after the tragic event. Cullen's book has almost nothing to say about Daniel, even though he was among the most tragic of victims, a straight-A student, a wonderful and loving family, etc.
Among survivors, I recall some kids who wrote songs and did their best to help the other kids cope. Yet Cullen's book neglects that in favor of concentrating on the religious aspect of the recovery efforts. Cullen is right on in pointing to the exploitation, but I would have liked to see more about how the kids themselves helped each other out.
Finally, Cullen really missed an opportunity to expound further on Eric's grandiose ideas. Harris was a terrorist. This kid should have been studied by the FBI and the CIA. He supposedly had on his website an ideation to hijack a plane and crash it into New York City. So much for
Condoleeza Rice's claim after the 9-11-01 attacks that no one could have imagined that kind of thing. Cullen could have easily had a lengthy chapter about this issue; it would have tied in well with his chapter about Harris's psychopathic disorder.
I don't know if I can read another book about this tragedy, but this book was disappointing in many ways.
- An Exhaustive Review
Dave Cullen looks at every aspect of this tragedy.
You feel like you know the killers, and many of those touched by this.
Bullying got nothing to do with it. This is about two boys who were profoundly mentally ill. ...more info
- A facinating read!
I had many misconceptions about this incident. Mostly due to the inept and erroneous reporting by the press. The warning signs were everywhere. The authorities dropped the ball and kids died. I also knew nothing of the aftermath. Very informative and sadly disturbing.
The author's next book could be about the "First Columbine" in which Brenda Spencer shot up an elementary school 30 years ago. Maybe this is one reason why I was so interested in this book. I attended school, and shared classes, with Spencer for five years. ...more info
- Sober book. Detailed and descriptive
A very sober book. Describes in detail the events, what happened, and what did not happen.
More like a report than in depth explorations.
Two very different young men and their individual personalities are described in fairly plain language.
The events are covered extensively, but without malice.
I expected to read a story of monsters and heroines.
What I got, was one explanation why it did happen, when it did.
This is more a history of the events, than a handbook on how to avoid such shootings.
To stop it from happening again, one should go for books on psychology.
Or remember to give your kids a hug.
- A Preventable Tragedy
This is a very researched book. Dave Cullen did an excellent job of bringing to light that awful day at Columbine. I thought I knew a lot about the tradgedy, but I realized I had most of it wrong. Yes Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 13 innocent people in a very senseless way, but I never knew how so many of the facts had been swept under the carpet. How this could probably been prevented if not for a gross lack of communication among more than a few people. JeffCo Sheriff's Department should be held accountable for what they did or rather "did not" do. By that I mean they should have listened to the parents of Brooks Brown who brought them a whole lot of information about Eric Harris long before Columbine ever happened.
Eric had a webpage that he kept with all kinds of rants and threats and messages of hate and murder directed at not only Brooks but also the whole human race. This was one mentally screwed up kid. In his own words Eric was a Natural Born Killer. Dylan may have fancied himself one, but I think had he not have run across Eric he would never have even been involved in this. Eric was the puppetmaster and Dylan was his puppet.
Dylan suffered from Depression, anger turned inward. A treatable condition if anyone would have taken the time to stop and just listen to him. Eric on the other hand was on a one way ticket to hell and I am not sure if there would have been much hope for him in normal society. He needed to be committed for extensive treatment. Dylan needed therapy for sure and medication for depression, but I don't think he would have been a total loss. I think he had a good shot at a good life given different circumstances. Please don't think I am giving Dylan a pass, I am not. He knew what he did was wrong, but by the time it was under way it was too late to turn back. Eric would have done something like this without Dylan, I truly believe Dylan would not have done something like this without Eric.
I am just so sorry that it came to this. I can't state for a fact that I believe any one thing turned these kids in this direction. I'm sure it was a number of things combined, but it was a lethal combination and the outcome was indeed lethal. Eric dreamed of his many victims he would take with him on "Judgement Day". He was hoping for hundreds.....well, he got them. I know that 13 died, I know that many more were injured, but the silent victims who were left behind to deal with the pain surely surpassed the hundred mark many times over. No one connected with this will ever forget it, and they shouldn't. Neither should we. Instead of throwing money away for research in outer space or ocean depths how about a little research on what makes kids like Eric and Dylan tick and what can be done to help them.
Not too long ago I found myself at a Memorial Service holding a melting candle....of course we weren't saying... We are Columbine.....We were saying We are Va Tech.
People....we got to help these kids....they are our future....more info
This book is really great! I love true-crime books and love learning about what goes on inside killer's minds and this book was very interesting. It was really sad to see just how troubled those kids were, and obviously more sad what they did to those students and teacher. Read this book...it's Great!...more info
- A Disturbing, Well Written Account of Horror
I have to admit, I have always been curious about what really happened at Columbine. All this talk about bullying and 'trench coat mafia' worried me. What made these boys kill? Were they depressed kids just reacting to a world they could not fathom? Were they boys who felt out of place, who'd been put down once too often by classmates? These were my questions, questions that have now been answered. Mr. Cullen's research put an end to all my concerns about what may have caused these boys to react the way they did. They weren't sad, picked upon children, so displaced they had to join an outlaw group. No. Harris and Klebold were sociopaths, plain and simple. Maybe Klebold wasn't as overt in his deep, dark thinking as Harris, but both these young men lived in fantasy filled worlds where violence to others was what completely occupied them. Who knows why they chose to act out these fantasies? Clearly, they were both smart, good students, yet they chose to turn their backs on what they could have become and instead, gave into their dark, deadly day dreams. Pity their parents. How could they have known? And pity the young lives they took for no reason. This is a well written, very well researched book which dispells the rumors, the tall tales that surrounded these killers. They were simply psychopaths....more info
Absolutely riveting reading. Thought you knew all there was to know about that horrible day in Colorado? You will be quite stunned by some of the revelations that Dave Cullen has brought to light. It will leave you shaken and stunned. Highly recommended. ...more info
- not non-fiction but an interesting view
enjoyed this book. thought it showed insight into the other"side". good read that i didnt put down. sometimes it is god to read or hear about this, and remember. well written. ...more info
- good to catch up on
If like me, you have not read anything since these events happened, this is a readable history making use of recently released information. Some may take the author to task, but he does a good job of putting us in that time and place....more info
- Not the truth
After reading this book, pen in hand, my copy was so marked up with scrawls and underlining that there might have been a second book written in the margins. I wish I could say it was praise for the author's insight into the Columbine tragedy, but instead it was sheer incredulity at the number of mistakes, lies, and misperception Cullen is trying to pass off as truth. If your only exposure to Columbine was watching it unfold live on tv, and then maybe reading a few magazine articles, you will probably rate this book five stars.
But if you've spent years studying Columbine and other school shootings, if you've read the 12,000+ documents available online (including the witness interviews and the the shooters' journals) you be able to understand how Cullen seems to be deliberately twisting the truth in order to present a neat little explanation that lets nearly everyone off the hook and lets us all feel good about our schools and our society. This entire book is filled with little but speculation, stated as fact, often with nothing whatever to back it up, or to explain why he comes to those conclusions.
Some of the mistakes are minor, such as the tidbit that all the school shooters during the years 1997-1998 were 'white boys'. Most mistakes were a great deal less minor, such as Cullen's repeated assertion that Eric Harris "Got chicks. Lots and lots of chicks", he "had scored with a 23 year old when he was only seventeen" and he "outscored much of the football team". Yet, according to Cullen (and Eric's own journal) Eric died a virgin. Cullen goes on and on about those 'chicks', stamping in his own idea that Eric was hugely popular at Columbine, yet he never manages to explain why, if that was the case, Eric was completely unable to "get any". A better explanation, and one that fits the interviews with those who actually attended Columbine, was that Eric was *not* "ranked just under the football team" in popularity, but was actually near the bottom as far as the pecking order of High School. Another example is where Cullen claims that Eric didn't know that he had been rejected by the Marine recruiter (for being on the drug Luvox). Not only was Eric in the room, when the recruiter said that Luvox "would be a problem" and that Eric "would have to have been off the drug a year before he would join", but Eric also told several of his friends that he had been rejected. Cullen says Eric "had no interest in the Marines", but Eric's journal tells another story: "I would have been a great Marine, it would have given me a chance to be good".
Cullen says "there's no evidence that bullying led to murder". He says that "Neither [Eric or Dylan:] complained about bullies picking on them". This is a completely false assertion. There are many, many eyewitness accounts of them being bullied, there is a video of Dylan being slammed into a locker, and there is this statement, straight from Eric's journal: "Everyone is always making fun of me because of how I look, how weak I am and [profanity deleted], well I will get you all back: ultimate [profanity deleted] revenge here." During the shooting, they tell everyone wearing white hats to stand up. Cullen gives this quote, but never bothers to explain that it was the jocks who wore white hats at Columbine. He also leaves out the fact that both boys told victims during the shooting that "this was for all the [profanity deleted] you put us through".
Cullen wants us to believe that Eric was simply a psychopath, and that Dylan was his unwilling dupe, despite the fact that IF Eric was (and that's a huge if, since there is too many arguments for him not being a psychopath to list here), it doesn't explain WHY he was a psychopath. He certainly didn't show signs of Juvenile Conduct Disorder growing up, as psychopaths nearly invariably do. By all accounts, Eric was a normal kid, in the beginning. He didn't torture animals or show any other warning signs of a sadistic temperament, according to his friends, teachers, and neighbors. And contrary to the movies, psychopaths are nearly always non-violent and not suicidal. Something happened to Eric and Dylan to make them the way they died. To act out in violent revenge, a person doesn't have to be "psychopathic", he only has to be made to feel as if he is completely worthless, and to have all hope taken away from him. Bullying does this. And at this point, a child will either turn the anger and despair in on himself and commit suicide (as the 11 year old boy did recently) or else, like Eric Harris, he will turn it outward. To say, as Cullen does, that Eric's behavior was a mere accident of birth is to deny everything that we could learn from Columbine. It makes us close our eyes to how we can help other children trapped in this downward spiral of bullying and prevent more violence.
If Cullen intended to "bust the myths of Columbine" by ignoring everything that didn't fit his theory, he did an excellent job, and this book deserves a full five stars. I just feel sorry that for many people, this will be the "truth" they come away believing in. The thirteen who died in Littleton deserve a better memorial than this book....more info
- Wow.....good job Dave
First off...10 years since this happened. A lot of good came from a really bad occurence. Are we better or smarter from this? I am sure we could debate that issue to death but Dave Cullen gives a remarkable account of the entire situation.
I don't like reading stuff like this but as a mother of two boys in school I felt like I needed to. What was learned from Columbine? I watched like most people did 10 years ago. I felt for these kids. I remember reading a story of a bunch of kids out to dinner in Colorado after this incident. Someone in the restaurant dropped dishes or something and the kids jumped out of their seats. They were quoted as wanting to go back to normal. At the time I figured they would never find normal again.
Reading this book I learned so much. Dave wrote this so you felt as if you had stood in the middle of the entire 10 years knowing everything. He gives first person accounts of all the major players across the board. I felt like I was listening to conversations in real time.
You are invited in to a world that leaves you slightly haunted in the end but you are shown the reasons why this trajedy happenend. You learn not take things for granted. In the end I found myself on the internet putting faces with names. I found out who was married to who, how they were doing. They have all just accepted life as its been given. It made reading the book more enlightening. Bad things happen but we can make it good again if we choose to.
What is truly remarkable is how every one involved came away from this. A new normal was created for everyone. We are a bit smarter because of Columbine but there will always be someone to try and break through whatever security measures are set up to protect us. Hopefully, we will continue to grow from things like this....more info
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