Review: Columbine

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.

That. Was. Intense.

I think that might have been the most riveting and heartbreaking non-fiction books I have ever read, which is why it took me a while to really be able to compose a review.  Since I was too young to remember this tragedy and how the media covered it, I was shocked at how much they had gotten wrong just so the story would be out there.  Then of course the reading of how the victims died as well as their family responses was just… I still can’t even imagine it.  I just feel so bad for anyone who’s lost someone to a tragedy like this.

Going into this book, I really didn’t know what to expect.  The author covers the before, during, and after of the shooting, as well as gives us the details of the shooters themselves – going into their psyche and how they reached this sudden end of their life.  Again, the media got it wrong – these two weren’t bullied at all; one was literally a psychopath and the other was depressed and looking for a way out.  People wonder how they could have missed it, but the in-depth analysis of these boys shows that they fooled the system around them pretty well.  It makes me even more wary of people I’ll let into my own life.

As tragic as the Columbine shooting is and as hard as it was to read about the details of it, I did find this book to be a great read.  I was fascinated by the thorough investigation of Cullen’s journalism to write this book, as well as appalled over the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and how they tried to cover up the boys’ previous files so that the blame would be solely on Harris and Klebold.

As hard as it is to cope with reading Columbine due to the fact that all of this actually happened, I highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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