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Newtown: An American Tragedy
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Newtown: An American Tragedy

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  922 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
In the vein of Dave Cullen’s Columbine, the first comprehensive account of the Sandy Hook tragedy—with exclusive new reporting that chronicles the horrific events of December 14, 2012, including new insight into the dark mind of gunman Adam Lanza.


Sandy Hook Elementary School

Newton, Connecticut

we remember the numbers: 20 children and 6 adults, murdered in a place
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 10th 2013 by Gallery Books
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Feb 27, 2016 Milka rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, nonfiction
Hmm, I am not quite sure how to approach the process of writing this review. A couple of times a year, I read these books that are very different from the YA contemporaries I normally read, and the experience of writing reviews for such books obviously differs a lot too. Last year, Dave Cullen's Columbine was one of my top 10 books for the read, and I had high hopes for Newtown, but unfortunately this book really wasn't what I expected it to be.

We all are probably somewhat aware of what happene
Jan 18, 2014 CiderandRedRot rated it it was ok
Too soon. I mean, I can talk - it's people like me, with my morbid fascination, who prompted a book like this to be written. And Lysiask has done a fair job of sifting through the reams of newsprint and online speculation and personal recollections to give a decent run down of what happened that awful day, the factors that led up to it and the immediate response (or lack thereof from the gun lobbyists). But it is still too soon for any kind of nuanced examination. It's unfair to compare this sli ...more
Kerry Kenney
Why would I read a book on this sad topic? I read it because I work in a public grade school. I read it because my son has Asperger's syndrome. I read it because I wanted to understand something that is not possible to understand.

This is the sort of book you would expect timed to appear at the one year anniversary of a tragic event.

I gave this book a poor review because I felt in navigating the difficult topic of writing about Newtown, the author chose to focus on the last days of the children a
The tragic events of December 14, 2012 are well documented in this book. The perpetrator of the atrocities at Sandy Hook ES is revealed to be a very troubled individual. Some parts of this book are very hard to read; the inhumanity described sent chills through me. Well written book.
I could not bring myself to rate this book because choosing a "star" value for it is simply not right. I knew it would be an extremely difficult read not only because it details that awful day when twenty innocent children and six educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, but also because one of those educators was a bright, beautiful, fun-loving first grade teacher named Victoria Leigh Soto - my great niece. Every time the author mentioned Vicki, her paren ...more
Jan 21, 2015 Noah rated it liked it
My book review of Newtown by Matthew Lysiak by Noah Schaffer

Consisting of only 288 pages, Newtown is a short read. Knowing that this book has only been out a year and seeing that of the 74 current ratings on (one source I use to gauge my "Must Read Next pile"), I was a little disappointed by the so-so reviews. I take to heart reviewer "Tet68" comments in his review that Matthew Lysiak seemed to "slap dash compilation of local media reports of the incident into book form and
Apr 30, 2014 Arlene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I started this book last night and finished it today. Mr Lysiak does a wonderful job of presenting this American Tragedy in a thoughtful light. It is easy to point fingers at multiple people as you learn about Adam Lanza and his longterm mental health condition. Who was to blame? His mom who tried to get him help while reinforcing his antisocial behavior? We cannot ask her because she was Adam's first victim. Or was it the video game industry who sells violent games to young people, making killi ...more
Vicki G
Dec 11, 2014 Vicki G rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
And I really discovered I had no ability to tolerate reading of the people who sang the "Don't you feel so sorry for him" blues that they did for Adam Lanza.
I mean, a person goes out and kills 20 children and 6 teachers, and SOME people's reaction is to stand around feeling freakin' SORRY for him. I just think it's too bad those particular people weren't in the school that day where he could have shown you how much he appreciates your sympathy by blowing you to kingdom come with a Bushmaster rif
Apr 20, 2014 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It goes without saying, but this is a profoundly unsettling book. Lysiak does an admirable job navigating a story that is fraught with difficulty. He does his best to honor the lives of the victims by reflecting on their mornings leading up to the tragedy, and later shares pieces of their eulogies. Reading about the crime itself is heartbreaking and disturbing, and not because Lysiak is being gratuitous, but I might recommend some readers skip that chapter. As a higher ed professional, I found m ...more
Mar 28, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've rated this book as a 5 not simply for writing style, but because it sends a powerful message through a terrible tragedy. We all know what happened at Sandy Hook, but do you know the real story? Well this reverent re-telling of the tragedy gets the facts right (as the news media did not on the day) and provides the important details that need to be acted upon. I'm completely against the 2nd amendment and that's my opinion. But I think that's only the first step in preventing this sort of tra ...more
Apr 13, 2014 Olivia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew this would be a heavy book to read--it was. It was interesting to read about how it all transpired. My heart broke all over again for this community. I can't even imagine enduring a tragedy such as this.

This book gives a more in-depth portrayal of the events that led up to that fateful day. It is a more honest depiction than what the media reported. This book allows you to see things as the community of Newtown saw them. (Though no one will ever feel the true agony of what these people h
Carol Wiilliams
Apr 21, 2016 Carol Wiilliams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book was put out too quickly and not researched very well. A lot of questions remain for me. This was an awful tragedy and this book left me with the feeling that it was a money grab. Trying to make a quick buck off the lives of innocent children and their educators.

One thing that I will never understand is why Adam Lanza's mother, who was the first person he killed and knew her son was mentally ill would think it was a good idea to fill her house with guns and even take her son to
Mar 22, 2015 Meg added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Really mixed feelings about this book/can't rate it. I don't know why I checked it out, continued to read it, etc. I do know I was pleased by the author's commitment to charity and helping fund mental health initiatives. Rarely feel this way but I regret reading this book. However, that's a personal and emotional response and has nothing to do with the writing.
May 01, 2016 Rita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading Newtown and although I have read about this terrible tragedy before I found this writer's story has shone a light on the horrific violence of December 14, 2012 that took the lives of 20 school children and 6 adults. From just a little boy, Adam Lanza had trouble fitting in with the other school children and preferred to be left alone. It became the perfect storm of mental instability and obsession that preceded it and hence to the unspeakable heartbreak that changed every ...more
Jun 28, 2015 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There is so much to learn from history, and from the pain that others have had to endured. I pray we have learn much from this tragedy, so that we can prevent future ones from occurring.
Nov 19, 2015 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Review:

I started to read this book knowing that it would be a hard read, I also thought that this book would repeat the same facts that we have all heard and also repeat them in the same way, but I was wrong on the two latter statements. While the book does include some of the facts that most of us know, it also shines a light on the victims and the life of the shooter, Adam Lanza, growing up.

The first part of the book tells little stories about some of the children that seemingly normal Dec
David Orphal
This was not the book I was looking for.

I picked up this book as well as _One Light Still Shines_ after reading about a middle school in Delaware that has issues bullet-proof whiteboards to their teaching staff. Immediately, for me, questions surfaced: Would parents now have a reasonable expectation that their teachers would confront a gunman? If a teacher forgot her whiteboard as she supervised the playground or chaperoned a dance, was she now neglect in her duties? Is this really the road we
Jan 11, 2015 Brittney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overall I would say read this book because it has facts in it that the media didn't tell us or they had the wrong information. Even though it is very difficult to read I think it is a must. I have to say this book was truly heartbreaking. I admit I was expecting it to be, but from page one I could tell I would end up crying. I know a lot about the Newtown tradgedy, but it was nice to learn facts that the media screwed up. Although I have to admit, I wish it focused more on the victims and their ...more
Neither as comprehensive nor as revealing as Dave Cullen's book Columbine, a work this book evokes in its subject matter and tone and even its cover art. Cullen's book had the advantage of a decade's distance from the event, which allowed for greater access to motivations and implications than Lysiak was able to have in writing this book a year after the murders. As such, this book suffers in the same areas that made Cullen's book so great. Lysiak is able to tell us little about the Sandy Hook s ...more
Mark Brandon
I think the main issue with this book is that it's come too soon. The author clearly wanted to be the first to cover the 'biggest' (in terms of public outrage) school massacre, which has caused one of the biggest flaws - there just is not enough information around yet.

Look back to one of the first high school shootings - Columbine, which happened more than 10 years ago now and information is still filtering out and views/details are still changing (in fact one of the biggest sources of informati
May 03, 2014 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone has been affected by the horrible events of December 14, 2014. Even thinking about it, makes me and I know everyone else sad. As a teacher, I know how important it is to keep students safe and be prepared for anything.

I don't recommend this book to everyone because it is tough to read. I cried several times.. The first chapter goes over the last goodbyes some of the parents had with their children. The actual events that did occur in the school and the funerals. It is very upsetting and
Mar 23, 2014 Emma rated it liked it
It's what you'd expect for a book written within the first year of the tragedy happening.

The story is heartwrenching and horrible, yet very informative. Definitely rushed and definitely missing points. Some things are straight up wrong (like Columbine happening because their parents took away their video games??), and I feel like Lysiak should have done some further research on those things. He failed to differentiate Asperger's from a mental illness (it's a brain related developmental disorder)
Mar 18, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it
I bought this book against my better judgment. I was close to the event. I knew one of the kids. Reading her name repeatedly in this book made me cry, and hearing Lysiak's depiction of the funeral I attended was difficult.

Overall, as a writer, he didn't do a bad job. It was an adequate book. It is short, I read it all the same day I got it. He does an interesting job looking into the lives of the Lanzas. Adam's mental health issues are tackled (as is to be expected) and Nancy's attempts at copin
I had wanted some more background on the offender (I won't say his name b/c that's what he wanted) and his mother. I was glad to learn more about the history behind his condition and the things his mom had tried to do to help him. I definitely think she should have had him committed to an institution. Can't understand why she didn't pursue that route, especially when I learned that she was pretty well off and could have afforded it.

I also learned that the secretary of the school accidentally tri
 ☆∞Love Frances∞☆
I suppose there is no one book, not one person out there who could answer the ONE question EVERYONE has been asking since that day: “WHY?” Books, magazines, newspapers, media outlets, all kinds of professionals, even a few psychic type’s have been trying to answer it, but to no avail.

I’ll talk about the book from a “reviewers” standpoint: It was obviously well written, thoroughly researched, and spoke facts-not speculation. The author, Matthew Lysiak carefully picked every word so as not to upse
Patty Abrams
Jan 30, 2014 Patty Abrams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The first section of this book deals with the shooter's life, his mom and brother, his autism and troubles in school. Then the author relates what happened on the day of the shooting. The reader can feel the horror through the descriptions and imagines what it would be like to be a teacher or a parent. Some questions were answered for me. How did the murderer get in? He shot out the window next to the main door and crawled inside. There was nobody in the hall to stop him. How did he get into som ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Maribeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the kind of book that I normally read, rate, or recommend. It was an incredibly difficult read. I chose to read it because around Christmas I realized that the one-year anniversary of the Newtown shootings had passed unawares for me, and like so many things in the news cycle, it had faded into the background. I felt bad about that, and I wanted to know about the lives of those 26 children and teachers. I had read a review stating that this book did a good job of memorializing the peo ...more
Jan 04, 2014 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first True Crime novel I have ever read & it will be my last. NOT because of the book itself or the author but because I know my heart & my head can not handle such types of books.
The book was wonderfully written with a lot of information that was left out of the initial reports of this tragedy. It also had a lot of information on mental illness, SPD, Autism, gun regulations & the mechanics of guns which I knew nothing about. It was heart wrenching of course & found
Nanci Mcclellan
Mar 28, 2014 Nanci Mcclellan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I purchased this e-book, I did not know what to expect give how soon after the tragedy that it was released. The author struck the right balance between respecting and honoring those who were taken far too soon and the details about the killer, his family and a larger discussion on mental illness and its possible role in tragedies like this. When I reflect back on reading the book, it is not the killer that comes to mind; instead it is how moved I was while reading about the week of funeral ...more
I can't give this a star rating. And I can't in good conscience recommend that you read this. Especially if you have children. Please don't read this if you have little kids.

That said, this seemed to me to be a very sober look at the events of that December day. Not too too gruesome, but not shying away from the facts, either. I don't think the author did a very good job of background, but it's only been a year. (I'm thinking of Columbine at this point, which was a simply AMAZING book, and somet
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“We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that—then surely we have an obligation to try. He” 1 likes
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