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COLUMBINE by Dave Cullen

In Columbine, author Dave Cullen seeks to tell the story of the 1999 Columbine school shootings as accurately as possible. He does this after spending 10 years on research; going through interviews, reviewing 25,000 pages worth of documentations and journals, and even going through the video tapes and diaries of the killers. All that effort was culminated into this book that depicts the incident, and everything leading up to it, with great and alarming detail.

I first heard about this book from Slapinions and after his glowing review of the book, I decided I'd be interested in such a reading. I hunted the book down at the library and I'm glad that I did. This was a good read.

Cullen takes a great unbiased look at the incident, neither condemning or blessing any sides. Rather, he throws the facts out there and just allows the reader to envelope themselves in the situation. Cullen has this great way of painting the scenes in such a way that we can know and feel as much as possible. In telling the story he also dispels a lot of the myths that were generally accepted about the whole tragedy.

We learn about the two killers from about two years prior to the shootings, and how the two evolved from young average high schoolers to cold blooded killers. He gives the same treatment to some of the victims; stories which inspire a sense of hope. We also learn about the various people surrounding the community such as parents, church leaders, detectives and so forth. For me, perhaps what was most interesting was learning about the character of the school and community as well as some of the devastating aftershocks after the shootings.

Cullen does a great job of keeping the reader hooked with each chapter. Interestingly, on the back cover of the book, the description compares it to In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter. Now, I haven't read the former, but I read the latter a few years ago and I disagree with the comparison, except for the fact that both books are based on murders. In Helter Skelter each chapter had this kind of a hook to get you to read on further, by tempting you either with more mystery or previewing a revelation. I think Columbine was written better and more enjoyable because it avoided doing this. Instead, the stories are told and resolved more naturally than using some bait to get you to read further on.

It is a painful look at the whole incident yet at the same time, captivating. This is a great read and I definitely recommend it even if you have a speck of interest or memory of the incident. Til next time, later geeks.

Comments

Dave Cullen said…
Thanks, Lam. Very nice write-up, which I greatly appreciate.

I was glad to see you mention Slapinions, too. It's great to see word of mouth carry a book from one person to the next. That's one of the most gratifying parts of writing one, at least for me.

There's lots more info at my Columbine site.

I just created a Students Page, several videos and a Discussion Board. For schools and book clubs, I'm going to offer to skype in for 20-30 minutes this fall/summer.

Thanks.
The Lam said…
I'm humbled by your visit. Thanks for writing this book, it was definitely a great and revealing read.
starviego said…
The big secret about Columbine is that there were more involved than just Harris and Klebold. Don’t believe me? Just ask the eyewitnesses:

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/columbineeight.php

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