Reviews for Columbine

by Dave Cullen

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Although much has been written about the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, little of it has helped to explain why two high-school students went on a rampage, killing 13 people and wounding scores of others. Cullen, acclaimed expert on Columbine, offers a penetrating look at the motivation and intent of the shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Drawing on interviews, police records, media coverage, and diaries and videotapes left behind by the shooters, Cullen examines the killers' beliefs and psychological states of mind. Chilling journal entries show a progression from adolescent angst to psychopathic rage as they planned a multistage killing spree that included bombs that ultimately didn't detonate. Cullen goes beyond detailing the planning and execution of the shootings, delving into the early lives of the killers as well. He explores the aftermath for the town of Littleton, Colorado: survivors' stories, investigation into how the sheriff's department mishandled the crisis, several ongoing legal issues, exploitation of the shooting by some religious groups and sensationalists, and the school's battle to regain its identity. Cullen debunks several Columbine myths, including the goth angle and a martyrdom story of a girl who proclaimed her belief in God before she was killed. Graphic and emotionally vivid; spectacularly researched and analyzed.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2009 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
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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. (Apr. 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The tenth anniversary of the Columbine tragedy has brought several new books with new information about the school shootings. Cullen, a journalist who was there to cover the story on April 20, 1999, has been researching this event ever since and offers eyewitness testimony, survivor interviews, writings from both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and police reports. (He documents his sources at the end of his text.) Any book about this tragedy can be hard to read, and Cullen's detailed account of the gruesome killings and suicides is no exception. Cullen's style can also make the book hard going, as he skips back and forth through time and among different people involved in the event and occasionally repeats himself. In the end, however, Cullen clarifies a lot of misconceptions that evolved soon after the tragedy and provides new insights into why it occurred, which makes the book definitely worth reading despite the disjointed narrative.-Terry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.