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4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  40,691 Ratings  ·  5,289 Reviews
Ten years in the making and a masterpiece of reportage, "Columbine" is an award-winning journalist's definitive account of one of the most shocking massacres in American history.

It is driven by two questions: what drove these killers, and what did they do to this town?
Paperback, 417 pages
Published April 20th 2009 by Old Street Publishing (first published March 1st 2009)
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Linda C As a parent, personally I would have no problem with my daughter reading this book at 15 or 16, but I don't believe in monitoring or censoring what…moreAs a parent, personally I would have no problem with my daughter reading this book at 15 or 16, but I don't believe in monitoring or censoring what kids read. Good readers know what they want to read and are smart enough to understand what they are reading. I think the kids would relate to this book because it is like their life.(less)
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Mar 25, 2011 j rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to think that the Columbine massacre would be the defining event of my generation, the one friends and I would discuss years later, trading "where you when?" stories like I'd heard my parents do when remembering John F. Kennedy. It seemed so... monumental at the time. I was a senior in high school, the same age as the killers. The media attention was omnipresent and relentless and soon even at my small town school (and when I say "small town," I mean it, not the way the news will describe ...more
Dave Cullen
May 31, 2009 Dave Cullen added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I wrote the book, so I'll forego rating it, just thought it should show up my list so you would find me. (But I'm new to goodreads, so tell me if I'm going about it all wrong.) Thanks.
Paul Bryant
May 26, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime

What does it matter that two crazy teenagers shot 12 other teenagers and one teacher to death at a school somewhere in the American Midwest over ten years ago? It was just another school shooting and since then we have had Virginia Tech which accounted for nearly three times as many victims, didn’t it, not to mention any amount of death and catastrophe in places other than schools. Why should anyone want to write a book about this particular school shooting a decade down the line? Why should we
Gus Sanchez
Right off the bat, I will state that "Columbine" is one of the most riveting, fascinating, heartbreaking and revolting works of non-fiction you will ever read.

What sets "Columbine" apart from all of the investigative reporting done during the aftermath of perhaps the most notorious school shooting in US history is Dave Cullen's skillful ability to cut through the mythology and hysteria surrounding the entire event. Many of the myths that were accepted as "fact" - that Eric Harris and Dylan Kleb
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a senior in high school on April 20, 1999. I thought the same thoughts as every other student in the country: could it happen here? who among my classmates are potential threats? what would I do?

The Columbine Massacre remains the most famous school shooting in history. It goes beyond body counts. It wasn't the first shooting, it wasn't the last, and after Virginia Tech, it isn't the worst. Something about it, though, stands out. It marked an evolution in youth violence - a horrible meldin
4.0 stars. This poignant, extremely well done true crime/history takes a comprehensive look at the Columbine massacre. As a rule, I do not read a lot of true crime stories or follow too closely these kinds of national tragedies when they occur (I just find it too depressing). Thus, before I picked up this book, my knowledge of the events surrounding Columbine was limited to “headlines” and “10 minute news segments” that dealt with very little beyond the surface of the shooting.

This award winnin
On April 20th, 1999, two students of Columbine High arrived at their school for the last time. They were about to begin what would be known as the deadliest schooting in an American high school, killing one teacher and twelve students. What is less known is that Columbine has originally been planned as a bombing; the pair has left two petrol bombs in the school cafeteria, and positioned themselves outside the entrances so they could shoot possible survivors: it is probable that had the bombs exp ...more
Bill  Kerwin
Mar 09, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

The definitive book on the most memorable US school shooting (at least before Newtown) by a reporter who has followed the story for the last ten years.

Dave Cullen demonstrates conclusively that almost everything we thought we knew about Columbine was wrong: 1) the shooters weren't particular objects of bullying, obvious misfits, members of "the trench coat mafia" or Marilyn Manson fans, 2)the shooters didn't target jocks or minorities (they hated a lot of things, including Country Music, Puff D
1. Last night I googled "Eric Harris Columbine", I was curious what the little monster looked like. He looked so average and normal, no wonder I hadn't remembered what he looked like from the incessant news coverage 11 years ago. One can see pictures of him and Dylan Kebold dead in the library from at least two different angles in google images. Apparently some people believe that there is still more to the Columbine story, that something else happened to two boys to make this happen.

2. I've re
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I have to hand it to you, April. You truly know how to test human endurance. After my usual routine of blasting NPR all week at work while entering data, I decided yesterday that I had well beyond reached my horror, disgust, frustration, and doomsday-fears capacity, shut off the station, plugged up my ears, and listened to 69 Love Songs and múm's discography all the way through instead. Despite the fact that I keyed in the date hundreds of times, it never crossed my mind what the symbol I was re ...more
Will Byrnes
The very word “Columbine” summons an image of gun-toting teens mowing down teachers and students in their high schools. In the media frenzy of the time and in the years since certain misconceptions about the event have found their way into common wisdom. The perpetrators were portrayed as Goths, gays, members of a trenchcoat-wearing gang, victims of bullying jocks and social outcasts. None of this was true. Cullen was one of the reporters on the scene when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed th ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
April 20th 1999 was a Tuesday. I remember this fact because my day off was Tuesday. I was probably doing some laundry and cleaning with the TV on in the background. Then I remember stopping and watching as the news came across the TV. There had been a school shooting......a bad one. My first thought was "bad things always happen on Tuesdays."

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 and injured 24. Eric was the mastermind behind the massacre and young psychopath. Dylan was depressed, seemingly a b
May 04, 2016 Dem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dem by: caroline
I had to constantly remind myself while reading Columbine that this was Not Fiction.

I vaguely remember hearing about this massacre on the news back in the late 1990s but this has made me realise how little attention I pay to media reports as only while reading this book did I realise how devastating and shocking April 20th was for a whole community of people in Colorado.

On 20th April 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold drove to their school, planted two bombs and took up stance outside the entra
Alisa Kester
After reading this book, pen in hand, my copy was so marked up with scrawls and underlining that there might have been a second book written in the margins. I wish I could say it was praise for the author's insight into the Columbine tragedy, but instead it was sheer incredulity at the number of mistakes, lies, and misperceptions Cullen is trying to pass off as truth. If your only exposure to Columbine was watching it unfold live on tv, and then maybe reading a few magazine articles, you will pr ...more
Tamora Pierce
Apr 06, 2009 Tamora Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction-crime
This is the first complete coverage of the 1999 Columbine high school shooting that's been published, with information on the journals and videotapes seized by the police, on the survivors and their families, on the political changes in the town, on the school before and after. It debunks the jock revenge and heavy metal theories that the media generated in the information vacuum after the shootings and gives the information that proves there was no conspiracy.

I was disappointed at first by the
About and around 19 years ago, I used to go to TT’s in Cambridge, MA on Mondays for Stone Soup Poetry. Maurice used to read during open mike and Brother Blue would perform and after awhile you’d get to know all the ‘regulars’---There was the really cute quiet guy who totally copped the beatnik look and would madly scribble in his notebook while others performed--only to shatter on stage. I’m talking complete, make-yourself-hoarse kind of raging, spitting his words out, knocking down chairs… Quit ...more
If you only read one book on the Columbine massacre, this should be the one. Cullen has devoted almost ten years of research to the subject and cuts through the crap that has grown up around the tragedy and the two boys who committed the crimes. It makes for depressing reading, but it is highly readable despite that.

The widely held picture of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold is of a pair of angry loners, the products of parental neglect, who were bullied at school and who killed out of revenge. Cul
This was the best nonfiction book I read in 2009, and it's an incredible piece of journalism. A lot of media attention was given to the mass shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999, but so many of the details that were reported in those first few weeks were dead wrong. This book shattered all the things I thought I knew about the Columbine shootings. For example, it didn't have anything to do with jocks, gays, bullies, the Trench Coat Mafia or Marilyn Manson.

Eric Harris
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
It's inexpressibly sad that a book like this needed to be written, but we could not have asked for a better person to write it. The book is perfect. Cullen tells the entire story from all perspectives with honesty, professionalism, and great sensitivity. He dispels all of the myths and outright lies that came out of this tragedy, and explains how they came to be accepted as truth. He gives the full background on Harris and Klebold, removing the mystification as to why this happened. (In short, H ...more
Jenn "Awww Yeaaahhh"
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Debbie "DJ" Wilson
This is the end all, tell all, book of everything you ever wanted to know about Columbine. I found it riveting, although sometimes a little too much. However, that didn't disturb me as the author had spent so much time and knew every detail. I loved the psychological look at these two boy's life's, wow was it disturbing. Also, the Sheriffs department that took so long to produce a final report and the reasons why are revealed. So much pain and stress could have been reduced for this town if only ...more
Beth (Ducky)
I am without words on this.

Thoughts on Columbine

There are things that happen in life that you have no words for. You don't know how to talk about it but you want to know everything about it. No matter how old you were when it happened, you probably remember something about April 20, 1999.

I was pretty young when it happened-- just 4 years old. I don't remember this and I've been shielded from it for most of my life. I knew the main parts but I didn't know the things that aren't talked about every
Oct 25, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
When it comes to school attacks, it's becoming clear that April is the cruelest month. As I sit here writing this, there's been yet another shooting event down in Christiansburg, Va. Some asshole, who sounds a lot like Eric Harris, shot two young women with a shotgun. The women are still alive. Pray for their recovery.

The Columbine attack occurred on April 20, 1999. It had been planned for months, and if you follow Cullen's timeline trajectory (I do), the chain of events (pipe bombs, vandalism,
Feb 22, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I graduated in 1985 from Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, Colorado. I remained in the area for a few years, and I still have family there. A few years later, I joined the US Air Force. I still go back when I can, but vacations aren't cheap.

Thanks to the internet, media, and remaining family in the area, I keep up with some of the important events. I follow the Broncos, Avalanche, and Rockies, counting them among my favorite sports teams. By April 20, 1999, I hadn't been back for awhile and one
Feb 13, 2016 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of true crime stories; those who want to know everything about the Columbine tragedy
Absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish; a spell-binding true crime that is the very embodiment of "page-turner." Cullen is a brilliant researcher and writer. This is the last word on the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999.

Reviewer's note: If you have not yet seen the short supplementary video on Cullen's blog, I urge you to check it out; it's very interesting (right-hand side, under "Columbine Book Trailer"):

Update: October 2, 2013. Columbine ma
Jun 25, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not easy to read (or listen to, in my case). But it is incredibly informative, if you can get past the emotional aspect. Such an intense experience, but really, really well done.
Apr 26, 2011 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: Very Short List, EarlyWord
Shelves: nonfiction, genrex, 2009
I know this book may not be for everyone but it was such an informative, compelling, and heartbreaking piece of work. It feels important.

As other reviewers here have pointed out the author has been covering this material for Salon for nine years. He destroys commonly held misconceptions about what happened that day, and frames it in a timeline that unfolds along with our understanding of what really happened and who the killers really were. Cullen is visceral but never sensational, and writes f
Mar 08, 2010 Jake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
For all the eye-opening/jaw dropping material this book delivers, I'm most fascinated with Mr. Cullen's arrangement. He weaves past, present, and future together, jumping back and forth, and across multiple perspectives. And it all seems to work. My sense is this book is Pulitzer worthy, given its intelligence, accessibility, maturity, and comprehensiveness. I think it is extremely significant that the book offers no photos to tell a story most of us only know from the flawed and often mistaken ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Sorry, but pretty much everything you know about Columbine is probably wrong.

For example, you know the Trench Coat Mafia -- the one that shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold belonged to? Well, although there was such a thing, they didn't belong to it (and actually, they were dusters, not trench coats). Nor were Harris and Klebold bullied (they bullied others, actually), nor did they target jocks, or Christians, or anyone else (the shootings were random). And the martyr Cassie Bernall, who was
Amanda OH MY GOD IT Burns
Mar 09, 2016 Amanda OH MY GOD IT Burns rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Writing this review has been hard for me the same way reading the book was. I have went through a dozen different starts and multiple drafts. What I thought and why I thought what I thought is still circling around in my head days after finishing it. It put me in two places at once, the then me who was safe and protected and on the edge of freedom (or so I thought) and the now me who is buried in responsibilities and coping with the difficulties of being a parent.

In my earlier drafts I attempted
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Dave Cullen is the author of the New York Times bestseller Columbine, a haunting portrait of two killers and their victims. He has written for New York Times, BuzzFeed, Times of London, Newsweek, Guardian, Washington Post, Slate, Salon, and Daily Beast. He is now writing "Soldiers First" for HarperCollins, about two senior gay army officers.

(Columbine is summarized concisely in this three minute C
More about Dave Cullen...

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“You can't really teach a kid anything: you can only show him the way and motivate him to learn it himself.” 50 likes
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