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Columbine by Dave Cullen

Columbine by Dave Cullen

This book is what it claims to be: not just an account of the events of April 20, 1999, but also an analysis of the events leading up to the day that two high school seniors decided to blow up their high school and mow down as many survivors as possible and the ensuing investigation that quickly became muddled in speculation, cover ups, and runaway rumors. Dave Cullen has done a superb job of giving readers another perspective of the massacre America simply refers to as “Columbine”.

Since that day, the accepted theory behind the attack has been that these two boys were outcasts who were bullied to the point of murder and that they wanted to kill as many bullying jocks as they could. Cullen offers a thesis that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did not just plan to kill jocks, they planned to indiscriminately kill as many people at Columbine as possible. Using the two boys’ journals, evidence gathered from the boys’ homes the day of the shootings, personal interviews with friends and victims, and tens of thousands of police documents, including “The Basement Tapes,” Dave Cullen paints a picture that is much more elaborate than the chain of events the mainstream media has given.

Perhaps one of the features that sets this book apart is its broad focus on several groups: the killers, the victims, the police, and the community. He demonizes no one, but also refuses to relieve any responsibility from those involved. Were Harris and Klebold bullied? Probably, but Cullen believes it irresponsible to acknowledge this as the sole catalyst for an event so vicious, pre-meditated, and cold-hearted.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It will evoke emotions from even hardened readers, but is not sensational. Columbine will probably prove to be controversial, but it is an excellent fresh perspective on the events surrounding that horrible day, and one that everyone should pick up.

Sarah P.

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