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Columbine
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Columbine
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Ten years in the works, a masterpiece of reportage, this is the definitive account of the Columbine massacre, its aftermath, and its significance, from the acclaimed journalist who followed the story...
Ten years in the works, a masterpiece of reportage, this is the definitive account of the Columbine massacre, its aftermath, and its significance, from the acclaimed journalist who followed the story...
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  • Ten years in the works, a masterpiece of reportage, this is the definitive account of the Columbine massacre, its aftermath, and its significance, from the acclaimed journalist who followed the story from the outset.


    "The tragedies keep coming. As we reel from the latest horror . . ."
    So begins a new epilogue, illustrating how Columbine became the template for nearly two decades of "spectacle murders." It is a false script, seized upon by a generation of new killers. In the wake of Newtown, Aurora, and Virginia Tech, the imperative to understand the crime that sparked this plague grows more urgent every year.
    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.
    Expanded with a New Epilogue

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Dave Cullen is a journalist and author who has contributed to Slate, Salon, and the New York Times. He is considered the nation's foremost authority on the Columbine killers, and has also written extensively on Evangelical Christians, gays in the military, politics, and pop culture. A graduate of the MFA program at the University of Boulder, Cullen has won several writing awards, including a GLAAD Media Award, Society of Professional Journalism awards, and several Best of Salon citations.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 23, 2009
    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.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2009
    Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

    "We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened," writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school's main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers' cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal"The Book of God" and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold's frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author's distracting tendency to weave the killers' expressions into his sentences—for example,"The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass." Cullen is better at depicting the attack's aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

    Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

    (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2009
    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

    Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from April 1, 2009
    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 didnt 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 sheriffs department mishandled the crisis, several ongoing legal issues, exploitation of the shooting by some religious groups and sensationalists, and the schools 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.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

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