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Columbine

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4.28  ·  Rating details ·  58,722 ratings  ·  7,312 reviews
"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 grow ...more
Hardcover, 417 pages
Published April 6th 2009 by Twelve (first published March 1st 2009)
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Mariah J. As a student (senior moving on to college), I would love to study something like this in school. It's raw, it's real, it's unsheltered. While I'd love…moreAs a student (senior moving on to college), I would love to study something like this in school. It's raw, it's real, it's unsheltered. While I'd love to study this topic of Columbine or book in particular, real and callous subjects like this in general would be beneficial. It doesn't always have to be about school shootings and horror and gore, but I don't want to keep reading things like Inferno and Gatsby written a time ago and adapting them to my life today. I want more books that are ACTUALLY from my life today, and I don't want them soaped up to be "nicer" either. (less)
Janessa Mental illness does not justify an act a person commits, it can offer insight to the why's. It can also help people be more aware of the true traits…moreMental illness does not justify an act a person commits, it can offer insight to the why's. It can also help people be more aware of the true traits that psychopathy entails. Books like this can make an "average" person more aware and informed, which are the first steps to prevention. While April 20th, 1999 will forever be a tragic day in our history, it did allow us to gain knowledge to help prevent further tragedies. (less)

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 ·  58,722 ratings  ·  7,312 reviews


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Dave Cullen
May 31, 2009 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.
unknown
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Paul Bryant
Jan 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Will Byrnes
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Bill  Kerwin
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history

The definitive book on the most memorable US school shooting (at least before Newtown and Stoneman Douglas) by a reporter who followed the story for at least 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
...more
Ana O
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, dark-reads
I feel no sympathy for the shooters. I’ve seen too many people like them do horrible things because they couldn’t control their anger. Why are so many reviewers still defending the Columbine shooters? Because they were 'bullied?' We've all encountered bullying/harassment in some form or another. Most people have had some pretty bad things happen to them. They don’t go around shooting people. One of the victims in the Columbine mass shooting was mentally disabled. So exactly who is the bully here ...more
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
...more
Matthew
This is a difficult review to write. Going in, you know the content will be extreme, controversial, and upsetting. While that was the case it was also quite eye opening. As the book gets into the details of the massacre (before, during, and after), it is going to be a difficult book for many. But, the depth which the author explores this event is very important in order to clear up all of the details and set the record straight. I think true crime fans will be enthralled with this book.

The bigge
...more
Maciek
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
Alisa Kester
Mar 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Matt
Apr 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Matt
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Matt by: Mariah Roze
Shelves: audiobook, buddy-read
There comes a time that everyone must not only see outside the box, but read things that make them less than comfortable. Life is not always honeybees and flowers bursting with colour. Dave Cullen offers this sobering perspective as he tackles an insightful view into one of the worst school shootings in history, though I am not prepared to posit how one ranks school shootings from 'best' to 'worst'. Cullen pulls the reader in to explore not only the event that took place in a small Colorado comm ...more
Stephen
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Mariah Roze
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have been wanting to read this book ever since it went through my newsfeed on Goodreads and boy, did this book not disappoint! This was a phenomenal story. It was well written and researched!

This book was about explaining what happened on April 20, 1999; the start for the next two decades of school shooting. It was informative in telling that most of the information that we have been told about Columbine had been wrong. It wasn't about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen- the a
...more
Dem
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Greg
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
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: truthiness, usa
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
Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, non-fiction
(02-15-18) I originally wrote this review in 2013 and I thought this would be a good day to bump it up into the feed. When I re-read this, I squelched the urge to rewrite any of it (Which I will do...after I cringe at what I had written.) because I did want to preserve what I was feeling at the time. In fact, I totally forgot I even wrote this. If you have the time, read the comments...that’s where the most interesting stuff happens. It’s unbelievable what has happened to this country in the pas ...more
Rebecca McNutt
There are few books on the tragedy of Columbine that tell it properly - what I mean is, it's rare to find a book (or documentary or film for that matter) which doesn't sensationalize it, dryly recite it, romanticize it or use it to push a political agenda. The truth? The real truth? It's in the eyes and the words and the photos left behind of the people who lived it, and this book is as best of an account as I've ever read, written by someone who was one of the first on the scene back when it ha ...more
Tamora Pierce
Apr 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Britany
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mmd, 2017, non-fiction
The moment the shooting at Columbine happened would be a moment that I would never forget. It would alter the way I experienced school and it would break the safe bubble of invincibility I always thought that I had. I was in 8th grade on April 20, 1999 getting ready to graduate from middle school and walk across the shared campus to high school. I was young and impressionable and the circumstances and media reporting on this event was absorbed differently than it was for future school shooting e ...more
Elyse Walters
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book shortly after - reading “A Mother’s Reckoning”.. Living in the Aftermath of a Tragedy ...by Sue Klebold

I owned this book years before reading it - it had been passed to me by a neighbor-
but by the time I did read it .... I found it more complete - and easier to take in - than in than Sue Klebold’s book. It was almost anti-climatic by the time I read it ...
But what stood out was how much I admired the author!!! How much more I learned ....

So many of emotions were stirred - in Su
...more
jv poore
Relevant upon release, this book is imperative right now.
Kim
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
Diane
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jonetta
I recently read Sue Klebold's A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, which is outstanding, so I thought it best to listen to a definitive account of not only what happened at Columbine but also objective analyses of the two shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Sue made some assertions about Eric Harris and her son that made me wonder if these were her perceptions or those widely shared. Thankfully, this story supports so much of what she shared in her story so my opinion o ...more
Jim
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
...more
Sarah
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Vikki
The Columbine shooting was one of the defining moments in the American history and a turning point in the way schools handled school bullying and student safety. This happened my freshman year of high school and I remember how this scared so many people. I even had a science teacher have class discussion on what we should do if we had a shooting at our school and we were in his classroom. Reading this book opened my eyes to all the misinformation coming out at the time of the shootings and after ...more
Debbie "DJ"
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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37,846 followers
Dave Cullen has been covering the blight of mass murders in America for two decades, first with COLUMBINE, now PARKLAND: BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT. COLUMBINE was a New York Times bestseller and the consensus definitive account. Parkland is a story of hope: the genesis of the extraordinary March for Our Lives movement. Dave was with the students from the beginning, with unparalleled access behind the sce ...more
“You can't really teach a kid anything: you can only show him the way and motivate him to learn it himself.” 72 likes
“The final portrait is often furthest from the truth.” 46 likes
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