Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Published on: April 2009
Page Count: 443
My Reading Format: audiobook rented from my local public library
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, audiobook
As did most Americans, I followed the events of the Columbine massacre intently. I was shocked that anything on that scale could happen. I continually listened to and watched the news for information on what happened and, most importantly, why it happened at all. More than 11 years later, I thought I knew the basics. What I found as a result of reading this book was that I knew pieces of misinformation provided via the media. Retractions are never prominent and rarely have the impact of the original story. For example, Michael Moore apparently believed the myth that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went bowling the morning of the massacre. In his book, Dave Cullen strips away the myths, rumors, and untruths, bringing to life the facts leading up to, including, and following the Columbine massacre. Although non-fiction, Cullen’s writing is so engaging that, although I remembered that day and its aftermath pretty well, I was transfixed. I didn’t want to leave my car (I read the book via audiobook) because I just had to know exactly what happened next.
I spent a good deal of time talking about the book while I was reading it, but three things continue to come to mind even to this day: Cullen’s research into why Eric and Dylan did what they did, the reality of what they’d actually planned on doing, and the Klebold family (see my post from yesterday).
Much of the media focus and, therefore, myths surrounded the simple question “Why?” Cullen did not find much evidence to support the conventional wisdom that Eric and Dylan were bullied to the point of explosion. What he discovered was that Eric was a psychopath and Dylan was suicidal. The combination of these two personalities proved deadly.
I don’t want to go into any details regarding Eric and Dylan’s original intent. If you’ve not read the book, this discovery will prove to be some of its most dramatic moments. I would equate talking about it here to adding spoilers when reviewing a work of fiction. Suffice to say that it shocked me, had me talking about Columbine non-stop at work, and kept me up several nights thinking about it.
I rented the audiobook for Columbine from the library because I wanted to read it *now.* It fit in more readily to my audiobook schedule than it ever would have in my neverending TBR pile. It’s narrated by Don Leslie, who did an outstanding job reading material that at times was hard enough to listen to – let alone read outloud. I would highly recommend him as a narrator. The person responsible for putting this book into Leslie’s capable hands was a genius.
Wow, how to sum up my thoughts and feelings about this book? I don’t think there has ever been a work of non-fiction that has had this effect on me. It opened my eyes to the way time and extreme crisis impacts memories. Cullen did a spectacular job of telling the story without taking sides. The factual tone of his writing says so much about the difference when people choose to let tragedy devour them versus let it challenge them to become better, stronger people. I don’t know how I could more highly recommend Columbine than to tell you that I bought it in paperback while I was listening to the library’s copy. I had to have a copy in my hands to keep. I just had to.
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