Ten years in the works, Columbine is a masterpiece of reportage, from the acclaimed journalist who followed the massacre from day one and reconstructed the psychological journey of two teenage boys who became killers.
©2009 Dave Cullen; (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Dave Cullen is the Dante of this high school hell. I came away from it thinking of Jack Nicholson hollering 'You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!' Read this quietly powerful account of Columbine and find out if you can." (Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler)
Learned to love audiobooks when I was commuting two to three hour a day. I still love listening to a good book, even when I prefer a printed version.
This book should become the definitive retelling of the Columbine tragedy, and a classic true crime story as is Helter Skelter or The Executioner's Song. Its recounts what happened, how it happened and its effects on the victims and their families. It brings home the loss of each individual and how terrible the shootings really were.
Some things are best understood after time has past and Dave Cullen's book "Columbine" does a great service by bringing perspective to the assault. True crime readers will be impressed by the breadth and depth of coverage he provides to the topic. Professionals from all kinds of disciplines will be pleased. Cullen's description of neuro plasticity and problems of a student recovering are good. His chapter on psychopathy alone is worth the price of the book. Every technical aspect of the Columbine experience is described in easy to understand language.
The opening portions of the book tell the story as reconstructed and it is a page turner. Cullen informs the reader as he describes the influences of the media on public perception, deception of the authorities, and the emotional trials of the families touched most deeply by the crimes. Myths built around a few of the students and their book publishing deals are examined. I cannot image a stone unturned or an aspect of the crimes not discussed in this book.
The book is troubling until explanations for the behavior of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebod are finally understood.
I am looking forward to the next work by Cullen, but I don't know how he will be able to do it. He has done a great service to the public.
I believe Cullen has gotten to the bottom of the mystery why Eric and Dylan went on their rampage. As the headline in Salon said, "Everything you know about Columbine is wrong." Cullen explains that the boys weren't outcasts, Goths, etc. and their victims weren't jocks, bullies, etc. In fact, their goal was to rack up the biggest kill in one act and go down in history with a huge impact by blowing up the entire school and killing 600 or more with their bombs. But their bombs didn't work. The bombs and what they did with the bombs proves that victim "choice" was arbitrary. At the beginning, they meant to blow up the Commons and kill *everyone.* At the end, they again tried to blow up their bombs and kill *everyone* who was trying to hide.
Cullen makes the case that Eric Harris was a classic psychopath, and I kept thinking if he had lived, he might have killed more. He might have found a way to get hold of a weapon that would have worked the way he intended his bombs to work that day. Harris and Klebold were kind of a modern-day Leopold and Loeb, and they planned their rampage for a year and were very smart in hiding their planning from parents and authorities. This was not just an excuse to take blame off the parents or the school...you'd have to read the book and see Cullen's convincing case.
I read a long time ago in Colin Wilson's "A Criminal History of Mankind" that an infant would blow up the entire world if it had the power, such is its rage that it is not getting a bottle right that moment. Cullen's take on Eric brought this back to me.
This was the gist of the book. This wasn't really a review but kind of a summary. But I think Cullen makes a convincing case.
As a person who lives minutes from Columbine High School here in CO - I am still stunned after listening to this book. Like many around these parts, I had initially followed the reporting intensely - then after some months - just turned away due to overload. So it was with a lot of hesitation when I started listening - but after I started - I just couldn't stop listening. I admit that I was one who held onto many of the original myths of the tragedy. I have now shaken loose these myths, thanks to a very miticulous piece of writing here from Mr. Cullen. And I was vagually aware of some of the miss-steps taken by my county - JeffCo, but now I am especially embarassed. After listening, I was compelled to stop by the Columbine Memorial the other day for the first time - I had to read the Rohrbough inscription. It was a stunningly, bluebird summer day and Clement park was a happy place. Don't laugh, but this book is like a little therapy for me.
So after many years of Audible books, this choice was by far, my BEST choice. Thanks Dave Cullen and thanks Audible.
While I was loathe to download one, not wanting to be a voyeur on someone's tragedy, the reviews led me to download it anyway. I was not disappointed. It doesn't romanticize the incident whatsoever and is extremely well researched. It takes an objective point of view, looking at every single part if the incident. I could not stop listening. The narrator is easy to listen to and didn't overly dramatize which I appreciated. You will learn a lot about school violence, and be shocked by the role of the media. Fascinating read.
This is a refreshingly unemotional narrative. It cuts through many of the myths surrounding Columbine, all the while delivering the facts in a respectful way (to the victims). It tackled many of the hot-button controversies and helped us understand how they happened. Most of all, it allowed Dave Cullen, as a member of the press, critically review how his colleges handled the tragedy. Hopefully they'll (and we'll) learn from the early sensationalism and change!
A timely and thought-provoking book that looks not just at the events that led up to the shooting but also the aftermath for the victims, the families and the community and what has happened to them in the past 10 years. At times this was hard to listen to, not because of the reader (who was ok) but because the content was graphic in its detail. I work in the mental health field with children and adolescents and there is always something society can glean from a book written retrospectively. I have recommended this book to my staff and highly recommend it to audible members.
Die-Hard Cubs Fan
After years iof Audible listening, I'm pleased to write my first review on this exceptionally well-written and detailed account of this event and the people involved. Cullen's years of research lend to an intricate look into the minds behind the attack and the time leading up to the harrowing event, as well as impacts on the families and ommunities involved, analyses into the precursors, and lessons learned. Leslie's performace as narrator is one of the most solid and gripping I've ever heard, bringing a chilling authenticity to the text, especially those of Harris and Klebold themselves.
The directness of Dave Cullen's Columbine gives it the credibility it richly deserves. His deeply detailed research is presented with objectivity and as little emotion as possible. Of course you can't help but scream, cry and pray after you read it but for the first time I think I understand the story of Columbine but even moreover I think I understand some of the reason behind it. Even though I believe the story could have been told a fewer pages I highly recommend this fascinating read.
Ordinarily this is not my kind of book. I had children in high school at the time of the event, and it grieved and gripped me as much as anyone, but I thought I was saturated in it and wasn't interested in a literary autopsy of this tragedy. Still, the Salon article and then a low sale price convinced me to give it a try. The audiobook languished in my iPod for months, and finally I let it played through.
This one was of the most-compelling reports I have ever heard. Cullen did a truly exhaustive job researching the story, and leaves no stone unturned. He is frank and decisive about those stories which are left to conjecture, or those persons who refuse to give contemporary information, and a shocking, upsetting, maddening and somewhat horrifying tale unfolds in sharp and shattering detail. I was educated and appalled.
Don Leslie's reading is flawless and soothing in the face of such a devastating narrative. Four stars only because this tale is not for everyone, but it is for a much wider audience than I ever would have believed.
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