Jessica's Reviews > Columbine

Columbine by Dave Cullen
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Mar 04, 2010

it was amazing

I was a freshman in high school when the shootings at Columbine High school occurred. Like most of the country, I was glued to the tv, watching the horror happen in real-time. For years I have been familiar with the stories of victims like Patrick Ireland, the boy who climbed out the library window after having been shot in the head, and Cassie Bernall, the girl who said yes when her killer asked her if she believed in God, right before shooting her in the head. I was also familiar with the killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold: two loners, who after years of bullying, finally snapped and murdered 13 of their classmates for revenge, before turning the guns on themselves. Turns out almost none of that was true.

Reading this book completely shattered my understanding of the entire Columbine Massacre. Dave Cullen's book methodically documents every detail; a minute by minute recreation of the attack, but also the gradual process of how Harris and Klebold came to the decision to do it, and more importantly, what their motivations where. It also discusses the aftermath of the incident, not just on the victims, but also the community of Littleton.

What I appreciated most about this book was that Cullen dispelled a lot of common myths. First, about the killers. Harris and Klebold were not loners, they were two very smart, but extremely psychologically disturbed young men. The attack itself was supposed to be much, much worse. Harris and Klebold had planned to blow up the whole school, killing up to 500 kids in the common alone. Their 13 victims, while a devastating loss, are not nearly the number of deaths the two killer actually aimed to cause. It really blew me away how methodically, obsessively and unmercifully Eric Harris planned this thing. And how Dylan Klebold just wanted to be loved.

But Cullen also clarified of the facts around the deaths of the victims. Like how Dylan shot Cassie Bernall in the head without saying a word. And that Dave Cullen bled to death for three hours, while the SWAT teams went room to room searching for shooters who were already dead.

All in all, this was an excellent book. It is both well written and highly researched. I could certainly tell that Cullen has developed a personal attachment to the story, and that he cares about getting to the truth of the matter.
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