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Paperback Columbine Book

ISBN: 0446546925

ISBN13: 9780446546928


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Format: Paperback

Condition: Good*

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Book Overview

"Excellent...amazing how much still comes as a surprise." --New York Times Book Review

"Like Capote's In Cold Blood, this tour de force gets below the who and the what of a horrifying incident to lay bare the devastating why." --People

"A staggering work of journalism." Washington Post

Ten years in the works, a masterpiece of reportage, this is the definitive account of the Columbine massacre,...

Customer Reviews

16 ratings

Just. Wow.

As any teacher, I'm fascinated and horrified by school shootings. I'm subbing this year and I saw a class set of this in one English classroom, read a few chapters that day, and then bought it for myself. I literally couldn't put this book down, I read it ahead of the 20 other books on my "to read" shelf, to their dismay, and I couldn't stop talking about it. It's written almost like a novel, so fiction fans rejoice, but it's expertly researched by a journalist/reporter who was actually there through it all. I think the most important thing to know is that this shaped our history as a modern country and it was 1000% preventable (i.e. the police effed up and then tried to cover it up for years). But the most horrible disgusting anger-inducing thing was that the police let 2 kids' bodies lay on the ground outside for almost 48 hours, they didn't cover them up, and it snowed on them. They couldn't spare 2 men and 10 minutes to take those bodies away so their whole community and families didn't have to watch, powerlessly, as they laid there where they died. I wasn't even there and I'm livid about it.

Detailed, Exhaustive,

Dave Cullen has done an amazing job ~there is no good word that feels proper to use to describe writing about such a horrible event~ researching, sorting, summarizing, and documenting this tragedy. He provides primary sources, sorts through thousands of primary and secondary sources. He doesn't take sides. He shares the lives of the killers, the parents, the students, the injured and the killed. Masterfully written. Must read.

Very Interesting, I learned a lot!

This book taught me things about the tragedy of Columbine that I had not known. The killers were much different than the image the media led the public to believe.

Great read

Personally I love nonfiction/true crime books but this book was completely different then anything I have read before. I believe the author did an amazing job at painting the picture of what the Columbine shooting was like while still honoring the victims.

Badly written

I couldn't read it because it is badly written, with short, choppy sentences and amateurish wording. This book begs for a rewrite by an accomplished crime writer. The subject deserves better than this.

Fantastic Detail on a Blurry Incident and Tragedy

Amazing, entertaining, and informative amongst all. Scientology represented without bias, scrutiny, or prejudice during a moment of great loss; an exceptional read for anyone willing to experience a birds-eye view of loss and failure. Details of antipsychotic medication (not effective) and may have been added in excess.

-- electryfing and apparently much desired ~

-- I was at school when we heard the news --just had a chance to preview it (bought 5 copies for my classroom library), then the kids (middle school) took them all ~


I was looking for books to help me learn more about the Columbine tragedy. I haven't read the full book yet, but I did find some interesting information while skimming through it.

good book, well researched but missing pictures

pictures would have made this a 5 star. why no pics? not of the killers but of the other people involved would have been good. pics or diagram of school would have helped tell the story. refers a lot to cafeteria, gym etc... would have been nice to see how things were laid out. aside from this still a good chilling read.

Chilling but so memorable

This book is definitely for an older audience. It is by far my favorite book. Cullen dove deep into what happened before, during, and after, and it takes the reader on an emotional ride. This got me started on true crime, and wow what a genre to explore! I loved this book so much, not the nicest topic to share that it's your favorite, but it is definitely my favorite.


Finally got my hands on a copy and was very glad that I had. I have always been interested in this whole harrowing ordeal. As we have become a world known for our mass shootings/killings I have always been curious about the events that transpired at Columbine. This book was wonderfully written. Full of information that I had never heard about and debunking many things that to this day I actually believed happened or was the result of what happened, I am pleased to say now I have been thoroughly informed of the truths of Columbine. I read this book in such a pace that I don't typically do with non-fiction. Highly recommend this book.

Breach of Trust

My favorite moment in Cullen's book came when Patrick Ireland was delivering his commencement address a little over a year following the massacre. As a result of the injuries he sustained on April 20, 1999, Patrick had spent that year re-learning how to walk, write, and speak. As he delivered the valedictorian address to his class, Patrick said, "When I fell out the window, I knew somebody would catch me. That's what I need to tell you: I knew the loving world was there all the time." Patrick's words caused me to realize that much of the horror of the Columbine massacre was the colossal breach of trust that human beings normally assume with one another. We don't like to recognize the fact, but every day we send our children to school, or get into a car to drive to the grocery store, or venture fearlessly into a crowded shopping center, we are acting on a profound sense of faith in our fellow human beings--trust that other drivers will not suddenly veer toward us, trust that other people value their own lives just as we value ours, and that most of the time, this shared value will lead even strangers to help us if they can. Especially in a culture as fiercely independent as our own, the necessity of this trust can be terrifying to acknowledge; no matter how much we would like to believe otherwise, we cannot control other people. Much of the criticism of Cullen's book comes from parents and researchers, many of whom have spent far more time thinking about and studying Columbine than I have. They say that Cullen does not give enough credit to bullying as a cause for the massacre; they prefer to think of Dylan and Eric as misunderstood outcasts rather than as terrorists willing to sacrifice their lives for the heady experience of power that their breach of human trust provided them. Perhaps Cullen's critics are right, but I suspect that they may be victims of wishful thinking, a desperate need to imagine that tragedies like the Columbine massacre might be preventable if only we were to take certain precautionary measures--anti-bullying programs, for example. Or maybe programs to address the needs of depressed students. I do not mean to suggest for a moment that such programs are not needed, or that they are a waste of time. But I suspect that despite such programs, the terrifying breach of human trust that Eric and Dylan enacted will always be a threat, whether we acknowledge it or not. I loved Cullen's book above all for its willingness to investigate not just the media myths about the massacre itself but also the web of falsehoods and misunderstandings that grew out of the human grief and suffering that followed. This is a brave book, willing to gamble that the harsh light of truth is a better tonic for healing than the comforting myths we cling to in our darkest hours.

Beware of Reviewers with Murky Agendas

To rate five stars, a book should be memorable, thoroughly researched, and well-written. The reader should be absorbed into the book to the point that he/she and the author have a "shared experience" and the reader should be changed in some way by that experience. Dave Cullin succeeds on all counts. Columbine is a riveting narrative. He addresses many myths that the press created in the first moments after the tragedy and that most of us still believe. He also defends his premise -- that Eric Harris wasn't bullied, but a bully and a psychopath -- very well with ample substantiation. I recommend this book. Now, a caution: As of this writing there are 11 1-star and 12 2-star reviews of this book. Nearly all of these are written by reviewers who object not to the work itself, but to Mr. Cullin's premise. They are angered by the suggestion that the two boys weren't victims of bullying, or that their parents weren't to blame (although they made their mistakes as we all do), or that the school couldn't have anticipated the attack. These aren't legitimate reviews of the book. If an author presents a well-substantiated argument, he deserves credit for writing a good book, even if you don't agree with his conclusions. The dialogue throughout the reviews (both reviews and responsive comments) is badly compromised by writers with their own agendas -- including authors of competing books. Be aware that the reviewer and commenter, Randy Brown who identifies himself as "A Columbine Parent" (creating legitimacy) generally fails to mention that his son Brooks wrote a book on the matter as well. Mr. Brown's comments are as welcome as anyone's, but by failing to mention this conflict of interest, he is misleading readers. Mr. Brown's agenda is to promote the "stop school bullying" agenda, by insisting that Eric's attack was the result of school bullying. A noble cause, but confusing, considering Eric bullied Brooks for years, to the point that the Brown family called the police many times.

Riveting and disturbing. Not for the faint of heart.

There are many very fine reviews already here so all I want to add is my experience with this book, which I bought on a whim and charged through in a day or two. I was simply stunned by how little I knew of the real events and intentions of the killers. As many have noted, this was never intended to be a school shooting or revenge attack. The intention, as Dave Cullen so aptly points out, was more on the level of terrorism, a lasting, televised fear of an apocalypse to come, one too big for Eric Harris to orchestrate. I ask you, is that not the motis operandi of many of the religious zealots we hear about on the news? There are many comments here about bullying, parenting and police who are seemingly let off the hook by the psychopath diagonosis. I disagree with this logic. It is much more frightening to understand the concept of the psychopath than to blame bullying or bad parenting. Though some rather shocking quotes from Erick Harris' journal were included in the book, I encourage you to read the extended versions and get a true sense for how different Eric Harris really was. Cold, calculating and unendingly logical and brutal. Though Harris does complain in his journals at times about being left out of things by his peers, this is overshadowed by his mind numbing rants about his own superiority and his desire to destroy the entire human race. These small tributes to feeling left out seem more like a psychopath's manipulation than a heartfelt response. Harris was different. He had no feelings, knew he didn't belong, and ultimately came to believe that human beings, when looking at purely from a rational viewpoint, not emotionally, were basically a disgusting species. It is eerily disturbing to read his writings as they are laced with a truth about the kind of society we have, one which is bent around mindless rules and automatic submission of your life to capitalist goals, a fact that is glaringly painful in the high school setting. And yet, one is also struck by the tremendous leap that occurs when Harris writes about his genuine desire to burn the world and roast all of humanity on a spit. Such statements are the product of a psychopath. You do not get there from bullying in my opinion, nor from some fault of poor parenting. I do not believe either set of parents can be held responsible. Psychpaths are reknowned for their ability to lie and manipulate. You and I would never perceive of such motivations lurking behind Eric Harris' smile and straight A's. We are easy pickings for the psychopath. We always will be and that is in my estimation why so many would like to blame bullying or poor parenting. Those are problems we can attempt to address. As Cullen points out, trying to treat a psychopath typically only provides advanced training for them in how to manipulate others. Believe me, I understand the desire to believe this horrible tragedy was the result of bullying or poor parenting. But I ask you, doesn't that seem

Not just a shot-by-shot account --- a disturbing portrait of some seemingly 'normal' killers

If "Columbine" were just a shot-by-shot account of the mass murder at a Colorado high school, this book wouldn't be worth a minute of your time. Anyone who was alive in America on April 20, 1999 knows how Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 12 students and a teacher, wounded 23 others, and then put their rifles to their heads and killed themselves. We've all heard the story of the girl who --- seconds before she was shot --- looked the killers in the eye and told them she believed in God. We've heard about the "Trench Coat Mafia" and the violent video games. And we've heard that Harris and Klebold were social outcasts who, angered by incessant bullying, decided to get even by staging the biggest massacre ever at an American high school. Why "Columbine" is worth the pain and tears it will cost you to read it: Most of what you've heard is wrong. If Dave Cullen is even remotely correct, Cassie Bernall was not killed because she told Harris or Klebold she believed in God. Harris and Klebold weren't outcasts. They weren't bullied, they didn't target jocks. And they weren't addicted to violent video games. What motivated them? For Eric Harris, raw hatred. A desire to kill as many people as possible --- to end the world, if he could. For Dylan Klebold, the hunger for love. And when he couldn't find it, an all-consuming desire to kill himself. If that's the case, then the nationwide reaction to the Columbine massacre has given us no reason to feel secure --- metal detectors and guards can't tell the difference between a kid with a bit of teenage attitude and the grinning psychopath with raging violence in his heart. For Cullen --- a Colorado reporter who got on the story early, fell for most of the false conclusions and then spent ten years investigating the teen killers --- Columbine is the story of that psychopath, his confused sidekick, their clueless families and a local police force that was fooled by a couple of kids. In short, "Columbine" presents a much more frightening story than the one you know. Did you know that the massacre was just a few days after the school prom? That's where the book starts --- with Eric Harris having trouble scrounging up a date. That was crazy. Eric was a mover: "He had made it to the homecoming dance as a freshman, and he had scored with a twenty-three-year-old at seventeen." The one who should have had this trouble was Eric's best friend, Dylan Klebold, who was, says Cullen, "meek, self-conscious, and authentically shy." But Dylan had a date. Probably the first of his life. We get to know these boys fast. Dylan, the secret drunk. Eric, seemingly obedient, but really a control freak. Both smart, "technology whizzes and technology hounds". Both smokers: Camels, filtered. Another thing: Both "planned to be dead shortly after the weekend." Their deaths were to be Act III of the massacre. In the first act, seven big bombs would kill hundreds inside the school. In the second act, as the building

A tender yet unflinching treatment of a chilling tragedy.

Ten years have passed since the tragic event that has become synonymous with school shootings. Columbine was once a word that simply denoted a high school, a football team or a state flower. But now the word is tainted. Despite the fact that we have moved on to newer tragedies with higher body-counts, the stain has not been scrubbed off of the word `Columbine'. But perhaps we need to do something other than wish it away. A better solution might be a deeper understanding of Columbine and similar events. The What, How and Why. Most of our answers to these simple questions have been dead-wrong and it is time to replace myth with truth. But this is easier said than done. The Columbine shootings remain one of the most-thoroughly covered crimes in American history. However, despite the voluminous output of media coverage, what really happened that day, and the motivation behind the tragedy, is understood by very few people. The result of our curiosity led to more falsehoods than fact, making a clear picture of the events on and leading up to April 20th, 1999 difficult to discern. In many ways the vast outpouring of information makes this tragedy even harder to grasp; the chaff vastly outweighs the wheat. Which makes Dave Cullen's new book, Columbine, an accomplishment that catapults him to the top of the genre. Not since Capote's In Cold Blood do we find such a thoughtful, illuminating, riveting, and disturbing portrait of the criminal mind. Columbine doesn't just explode the myths of what happened that day and why. Instead the book carefully dissects our biases, revealing a populace eager to blame this tragedy on poor parenting, Satan, rock music, or goth kids because it is simpler and more convenient than hearing the truth. And the truth is that Eric Harris was a born psychopath and Dylan Klebold was clinically depressed, eager to please, and clawing for an escape hatch. Together they formed a rare and volatile combination known as a criminal dyad, a coupling of an egomaniacal control freak and a doting, depressed side-kick. Like Bonnie and Clyde and the D.C. snipers, the duo had a push-me pull-me effect that spun both kids out of control and down a dangerous path that now seems well-worn and obvious as we trace it back. Cullen's coverage of the tragedy is remarkably broad and deep for a book that doesn't even run 400 pages. The entire scope of the Columbine shootings are covered with almost no wasted space. The book is agonizingly well-researched and brilliantly end-noted. Cullen was one of the Colorado journalists covering the event as it was happening, and has been following the aftermath for the past ten years. He has become one of the most informed minds to wrestle with the shooting, and one of the few to draw the right conclusions. The layout and pacing in Columbine is also ingenious. Instead of pretending that this was a tidy moment in history that can be covered from beginning to end, Cullen pays homage to the frustr

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