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Publisher's Summary

Expanded with a new epilogue

"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 10 years on this book, which is 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. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.

©2009 Dave Cullen (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A chilling page-turner, a striking accomplishment given that Cullen's likely readers almost certainly know how the tragic story ends...I knew Cullen was a dogged reporter and a terrific writer, but even I was blown away by the pacing and story-telling he mastered in Columbine, a disturbing, inspiring work of art." (Salon)

"A remarkable book. It is painstakingly reported, well-organized and compellingly written . . . For any reader who wants to understand the complicated nature of evil, this book is a masterpiece." (The Seattle Times)

"Leveraged for political ends by Michael Moore on film and adopted for convenience by the news media as shorthand for teenage violence, Columbine has begun to feel as impenetrable and allegorical as Greek myth. So the intensive reporting of Denver-based journalist Dave Cullen is welcome. . . Cullen creates more than a nuanced portrait of school shooters as young men. He writes a human story - a compassionate narrative of teenagers with guns (and bombs, too), and the havoc they wreak on a school, a community, and America." (Esquire)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Everything You Know About Columbine is False

Although there have been many prior school shootings, the Columbine tragedy distinguishes itself by being the first of the "cell phone age" in which the victims were able to broadcast the attack with gunshots and students screaming in terror live to the world as it happened. The horror of the bloody event became real, even larger-than-life as viewers listened to first-hand accounts from trapped students cowering under their desks while the killers roamed the halls. Chaos and confusion reigned hours after the killings had subsided. The police, the parents, and the victims still remained in the dark.

The author, Dave Cullen brings to light the gritty details of an event that has been mythologized, politicized, and obscured by time and possible police corruption. Everything we have come to know or heard about Columbine, from the victims, the killers, and the police, are in fact false. Neither Eric Harris nor Dylan Klebold were members of the "Trenchcoat Mafia", part of Goth culture, nor were they simply hunting jocks. Cullen deftly traverses the maze of evidence leading to the massacre and acutely portrays the following media hysteria. A debate arose in the aftermath of the tragedy whether to regard the killers - Harris and Klebold - as victims too in an event played out when 15 crosses were erected in a monument to the 13 murdered students. There was a darker turn in the cultural aspect as the two killers became martyrs for future copycat school shooters, most notably Seung-Hui Cho who mentioned Harris and Klebold as inspirations in a hate-filled diatribe after murdering over 30 people at Virginia Tech. Nearly two decades have passed since the Columbine school shooting yet the mystery of why it happened still remains prevalent. The Harris's and the Klebold's have maintained their silence on the early lives and behaviors of their children thus contributing to the growing misinformation and myths that have arisen since that sad day at Columbine High School. Overall this book is a must-read for anyone trying to understand this new phenomenon of school massacres and the modern mentality of a school shooter.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Entrancing, I couldn't stop listening!

Very good, I love how it focused both on the boys and the victims, and didnt favor any story, only the truth.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Karen
  • ELK GROVE, CA, United States
  • 05-21-18

Fantastic

The book was riveting. I couldn't stop listening. Very interesting topic and covered in an unbiased manner.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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it was a massacre that changed many lives

I loved this book! which sounds terrible considering it's a book about a school shooting, but Cullen effectively used pathos to make his readers feel sympathy for the deceased and wounded. He made us feel hate towards the perpetrators. Amazingly written and I recommend it to anyone that is interested in this type of topic.

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very powerful

very enjoyable book, great detail obviously had a lot of work put into it. the narrator was great too.

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The definitive account

A very well-written and evenly balanced account of the Columbine tragedy. It dispels many of the myths perpetuated by the media and still believed to be true.

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BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ/LISTENED TO

Where to start this book was great. In a world of terrible journalism this is a masterpiece. Very well researched and hooked me from the get go. Now, that being said I am a studier of crime psychology and psychology in general. Though this book covers a very sad and terrible event the author does an amazing job at being respectful and stern with the topic at hand. The only way to learn is to understand from all angles. This book was very well written and researched that is obvious. The narrater was also great.

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Speechless

Life moves so fast and so many things go on in the world, nation, state and one's own lives. I never realized all that the community went through at that time. My heart goes out to them all. The author did an amazing job summing it all up.

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Excellent delivery of a haunting catalyst

This book painted horrific imagery of the most notorious and profound school shooting in American history. It allowed me to get a better understanding of Eric and Dylan and of their intentions.

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Comprehensive and Chillingly Recreated.

A very thorough investigation that is so vividly retold, you become a witness to Columbine.