Review: Columbine

August 11, 2011 Whitney Review 5 Comments

Review: ColumbineColumbine by Dave Cullen
Published by Twelve Books on April 6, 2009
Genres: True Crime
Source: Gift

What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we "know" is wrong. It wasn't about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book-widely recognized as the definitive account. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world's leading forensic psychologists, and the killers' own words and drawings-several reproduced in a new appendix. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.

Like most historic events or tragedies, you can remember where you were and what you were doing. I was fourteen at the time so don’t remember exactly that but have a very vivid memory just a few weeks afterward.  I was in 8th grade and a boy a class behind mine brought two walkie talkies to school, which were promptly confiscated.  Somehow, it snowballed that said a student was bringing a gun to school on Tuesday and would shoot anyone wearing the color green.  Tuesday came with a large number of the student body surprisingly in attendance.  I recall a large pile of book bags at the front entrance and lots of police and bomb-sniffing dogs.  Tuesday came and went.  Nothing happened.  It was all a rumor.  If Rockwood Valley had panicked it could not even have been a tenth to what Columbine experienced.

The novel Columbine, has been hailed as the “In Cold Blood” of this generation, like Capote, Cullen had the reader connects or feel empathic towards Dylan and Eric, I know that might sound strange considering their actions but somehow, despite their wrong-doings made the killers into real people and not the psychopaths that they were.  I also liked that the author flashed back and forth between the day of the massacre and then to its aftermath.  He also addresses some rumors or bogus “urban legends” if you will, such as the trench coat mafia or one of the victims professing her devotion to God before her death.  Columbine is not for everyone, it is disturbing, unbelievable and even though Dave Cullen maps out the 5Ws &H it still leaves you stun.



5 responses to “Review: Columbine

  1. I was a junior in high school and distinctly remember coming home from school and seeing this play out on the TV and the fear that came afterwards that something like that could happen at my own school.

    May have to check this one out.

  2. It was very creepy, but sadly school shootings have become much more prevalent in the last decade that they almost seem passe. To me that is just as creepy.

  3. I think I was in Junior High. Afterwards, kids kept making bomb threats using the payphone outside. We missed a lot of school because our school would cancel school after threats. I think that is why people kept making them.

    I'm sure Columbine wasn't the first but it sure felt like it.

  4. I read this last year and was compeltely blown away. The shooting happened when I was in high school and it terrifying. The book really captured that feeling of anxious fear, but it also gave us a view of who the people involved really were.

  5. My children were in high school when this happened and it scared the snot out of me. I planted columbine in the garden that spring as a remembrance; it didn't survive our climate. I was never able to read In Cold Blood, and probably won't be able to read this one, but your post was well worth reading.

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