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Columbine Paperback – March 3, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Many reviewers were more concerned with coming to grips with the attack rather than assessing the book, but their concern may be a testament to Cullen’s work. His reporting fundamentally reframes the event: Columbine, he writes, should be thought of as a failed bombing rather than a school shooting. Furthermore, much of the conventional wisdom about how to prevent such attacks—essentially, watch out for pimply outcasts with a grudge—is confounded by an investigation into Harris’s and Klebold’s actual lives. Most critics, with Janet Maslin a notable exception, thought that Cullen’s account helps us to better wring meaning from the tragedy. In sum, Columbine “is an excellent work of media criticism, showing how legends become truths through continual citation” (New York Times Book Review).
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The only issue I have with the book is the organization. I was fine with the timeline jumping around from chapter to chapter, but I did not understand the reasoning for how the story was told in some cases. Also, given the number of different people to keep track of, some kind of "who's who" reference in addition to the timeline would have been very helpful.
This book is proof that an excellent book can be written without grandstanding. I would give it 5 stars, but honestly I'm a little drained from the magnitude of the read. Buy this book. Just pace yourself--it's a lot of darkness to take in. But there's incredible light here too!