Columbine – Dave Cullen

Post -Newton School shooting I wasn’t sure if I was up for an in depth re-cap of the shooting in Columbine in 1999.  Numerous people said that they couldn’t put the book down and I can see why. Despite the difficult subject matter Dave Cullen presents a compelling dissection of the tragedy.  So often when things happen we look for straightforward explanations – who is to blame, why, etc. Indeed – this is what most of the reporting is directly after a tragedy of this magnitude….and it is generally not factually correct.  As the story unveils going from witness accounts to the diaries/weblogs of Eric and Dylan to police reports one is provided with the full scope of the actions and lives of the boys that culminated in this horrific event.

It is a hard book to listen to though perhaps not as hard as I would have thought.  There was so much  misinformation that was spread about the event that has never been adequately dispelled.  I found myself listening and thinking, wait..what? That didn’t happen that way?  Perhaps most interesting is the reflection about how these big events are dealt with and understood with a particular emphasis on how the media gathers and reports information when tragedy strikes. I wouldn’t necessarily call it an indictment – more he explores and helps us to understand how these things happen – it may change the way that you listen to the news.  (disclaimer, I tend to prefer to read a long, well researched article rather than the constant updates and STILL it changes the way I listened to the news).

Cullen goes to great lengths to provide all information in a fair and reasoned manner. Other reviewers – notably those *from* Columbine tend to be the ones that feel he did not tell the story well, or that he was one sided in some way.

For those that enjoy reading about current events, journalist style explorations of events, or even crime lit – this book is for you.

You can buy Columbine on Amazon, from your favorite book store or borrow it from your local library. (now available in paperback)


For more reviews, please check these out:

ErikaMiller  .  Ginger Musings  .  A Crowded Bookshelf  .  NYTimes Book Review

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