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Columbine by Dave Cullen
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Columbine (edition 2009)

by Dave Cullen

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1,7981453,893 (4.32)243
Member:spinmass
Title:Columbine
Authors:Dave Cullen
Info:Twelve (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 432 pages
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Columbine by Dave Cullen

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Absolutely extraordinary. You rarely see reporting of this caliber anymore, writing that changes the way you see the world and its relation to certain events. Cullen has uncovered facts I have not seen other places. But more than that, he lets us view Columbine through many lenses, and that gives us perspective. Columbine did not just happen to the students at Columbine, it happened to everyone. We have become so used to this sort of tragedy. The day I finished this there was a fatal mass shooting at a college in Seattle which barely made the news, and another a week earlier about which coverage has nearly faded. Columbine stole our innocence. Understanding what happened, and how it affected so many lends perspective that helps us see and understand (and hopefully at some point do something to stop some) mass shootings. This book is about as close to perfect as a book can get ( )
1 vote Narshkite | Jun 23, 2014 |
Powerful! ( )
  wallerdc | Mar 26, 2014 |
I don't know what you can say about a book like this. Columbine was the word poised on the lips of any high schooler. Everyone asked themselves if they were a potential victim. It got to the point where my sociology professors refused to read any papers about Columbine because they had read so many. Everyone spent the next 2-3 years asking why, how, and what can we do to prevent it from happening again. No one got any answers. And now it seems like everyone's almost forgotten about the small-town tragedy. It's especially important to me because it happened in my senior year of high school. In another life, a few tweaks here and there, I could have been one of the killers.

The book jumps around a little. It starts with a detailed description of the preludes to the event (an assembly, the prom, etc.) and the known, verified events of 4/20/99. Then it splits into two narratives. One is the aftermath and analysis thereof. How the cops screwed up, how the media screwed up, the heroes and maligners among the students. The other is a profile of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and their evolution into what they became. The book is one of the most complete, well-thought historical event analyses I have ever read (but I haven't read many).

It's nice to know after ten years in such a personally interesting event, what really happened. The untruths behind the trenchcoat mafia and Marilyn Manson. The influences and avenues they used to get the weapons they needed (that are still open). I never knew that the "Do you believe in God? Yes." story was never corroborated, or how non-methodical the massacre was. The media did a horrible job of reporting the truth around the event. The police and SWAT team did a horrible job of taking action. They could have saved lives if they'd taken more risk, but I don't think they knew what they were dealing with. No one did, they still don't. That's part of the reason it fascinates.

Anyone who grew up plus-or-minus the Columbine era should read this book. You're probably already interested in Columbine because you were one of them. This book is on the long side. But it's well-written, explains everything with journalistic integrity, and gives great insight into why it became a thing, and why it no longer is. ( )
2 vote theWallflower | Mar 14, 2014 |
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.
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1 vote | MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
Published ten years after the Columbine shootings happened, Dave Cullen, a reporter at the time of the shootings, looks deeper into everything connected to it: many of the people involved, including kids at the school, teachers, families, Eric and Dylan and all the planning, their families, the entire investigation...

Dramatic and intense. So much detail to look into what really happened. The book debunks a lot of myths and rumours as well. It will catch you up on survivors and what's happened with them and others, including victims' families, since. I listened to the audio, and the narrator is very good. He had an appropriately dramatic voice for such an intense book. You'll just want to keep reading/listening to this one. It's hard to put down. Amazing account of a horrible event. ( )
1 vote LibraryCin | Jan 3, 2014 |
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Epigraph
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
-- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
I am a wicked man. . . . But do you know, gentlemen, what was the main point about my wickedness? The whole thing, precisely was, the greatest nastiness precisely lay in my being shamefully conscious every moment, even in moments of the greatest bile, that I was not only not a wicked man but was not even an embittered man, that I was simply frightening sparrows in vain, and pleasing myself with it.
--Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

Dedication
For Rachel, Danny, Dave, Cassie, Steven, Corey, Kelly, Matthew, Daniel, Isaiah, John, Lauren, and Kyle. And for Patrick, for giving me hope.
First words
He told them he loved them. Each and every one of them.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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.

— Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
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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 and to leave 'a lasting impression on the world.' Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence ... Dave Cullen delivers 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 the prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal. The result is an account of two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boys' tapes and diaries, he gives a complete account of the Columbine tragedy ... A close-up portrait of violence, a community rendered helpless, and police blunders and cover-ups, it is a human portrait of two killers"--From publisher description.… (more)

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