Saturday, November 5, 2016

"Columbine" by Dave Cullen

Genre: Nonfiction/ True Crime/ Psychology/ History
Publication: April 6, 2009 by Blackstone Audio
Format: Audio Book
Cover Rating: 4/5 Stars

From Goodreads: "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 grows more urgent every year.

What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we "know" is wrong. It wasn't about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book-widely recognized as the definitive account. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world's leading forensic psychologists, and the killers' own words and drawings-several reproduced in a new appendix. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.

My Thoughts: I've just recently gotten into the True Crime/ Documentary genre in the last year or so after watching Netflix's Making a Murderer (which I highly recommend to everyone). But when I ran across Columbine on my rec list I knew it was going to be something that I wanted to read. Like most people my age, this was where school shootings began. That's not necessarily true, but for us, it was the first. You just say the word Columbine and it evokes the grainy photos of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold standing in a lunch room with a gun. I didn't think of a school or a community. I thought of the  massacre that happened there instead.

I actually didn't read this book, instead I listened to it on Audible Channels. It wasn't easy to listen to. Not because Don Leslie didn't do a FANTASTIC job of narrating (he totally did), but because this was real to me. I remember exactly what I was doing when the news broke about the school. I remember the fear in the days after. This was something that shook our country as a whole. Listening to the vivid account of it was just heartbreaking.

What really shocked me though, was that I didn't really know what happened when it came down to it. The media that swarmed this story was filled with gossip, half-truths, and even lies. It took me a while to accept that what I had believed about Columbine really just wasn't true.

Dave Cullen is a fantastic journalist and superb writer. He covers everything about this story as far as I could tell, giving the reader an up close and personal with the killers as we may ever get. But at the end, he shows us the hope through the survivors. I no longer picture the massacre and the fear when I hear the word Columbine. Instead, I picture a community of people who survived something terrible and came out on the other side. I picture the survivors like Patrick Ireland and the hope they inspire.

Bottom Line: Overall it's a really hard book to read emotionally, but I think it's well worth it and I definitely recommend it.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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