eBook - 2009
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"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.
Publisher: New York : Twelve, 2009
Edition: 1st eBook ed
ISBN: 9780446552219
Call Number: eBook


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Jan 06, 2017

Unfortunately, many pick up Cullen's book and treat it as the definitive source and guide on Columbine. His book does make for an interesting read, but as a reliable source? Not at all.

I would recommend looking at other books and sources because Cullen's book is full of errors and false claims. There are plenty of other great resources out there, and I would encourage everyone to check them out.

athompson10 May 30, 2016

Thorough, thoughtful and well-researched story of the Columbine school tragedy and its aftermath. Cullen's account of the investigations into the who-what-why-how is comprehensive, as is his analysis of the falsehoods perpetuated by the media after the shootings.

Mar 29, 2016

After ten years of meticulous research, author David Cullen has pieced together the definitive history on the Columbine massacre. Shattering many myths surrounding this tragedy, I was surprised at how much I learned (and didn't know) about this infamous shooting, which was covered ad nauseam for most of 1999. For starters, it was actually a bombing that went wrong; when the pipe bombs Harris and Klebold constructed turned out be complete duds, Plan B was quickly put into action, resulting in thirteen deaths. Nor were the two gunmen goths; the only reason they wore trench coats that day was to conceal their weapons. And of course, what better place to seek out bullying jocks than the library. Harris is shown in the book to be a classic psychopath who can be charming one minute and a monster the next. Hoping to kill far more people than he did, I was shocked to learn that local police knew all about Harris's website where he boasted about making pipe bombs and threatening other kids for more than a year before the shooting took place. Clearly, a massive cover-up took place within hours of the shooting in order to cover their tracks. And while reading this book, I still can't believe how clueless the killers' parents were. Considering the mountain of evidence, which included video tapes, diagrams and journal entries of what they planned to do, how could they not see it coming? "Son, how many times have I told you to put your pipe bombs away." Please. Unfortunately, since their testimonies are sealed until 2027, it will be a while before we know the whole story. Excellent job by the author at putting this book together, including the tips on how to spot potential school shooters and more importantly, what not to do.

Powerline_420 Aug 10, 2015

This book is a well-written and easy read, but do NOT treat it as a definitive source for information about Columbine. I am very well-read on the subject and will list all the problems with this book I can think of from the top of my head.
1. Cullen claims that Harris and Klebold were not bullied when, in fact, both boys complained about bullying in their journals, and numerous acquaintances and witnesses attest to pervasive bullying - including an incident in which someone dipped tampons in ketchup and threw them at both boys during lunch.
2. He claims Harris was a psychopath. It is not possible to posthumously diagnose psychopathy.
3. He claims Harris was a ladies' man and that he "outscored the football team." In reality, Harris had many FIRST dates with girls, but they would stop talking to him because he was weird. Most problematically, Cullen claims Eric had sex with a 23-year-old woman. The woman in question is named Brenda Parker, and she admitted that she made the whole story up for attention years before this book was published.
4. He paints Klebold as a blind follower. This is untrue. Klebold actually wrote about the idea of a killing spree in his journal long before Harris ever did. Many friends of theirs also have stated that Harris actually followed Klebold's taste in music, clothes, etc.
5. Students who were there at the time of the shooting have even stated that Cullen got things wrong - most notably, paralyzed survivor Anne-Marie Hochalter has stated that Cullen got how she was injured completely wrong.

If you want an easy read that gives you a basic idea of the events that happened at Columbine and its effect on survivors and can take it all with a grain of salt, this is the book for you. If you want an in-depth lesson about the shooting and its perpetrators, "Comprehending Columbine" by Ralph Larkin and "Columbine: A True Crime Story" by Jeff Kass are far better reads. To get a perspective from a survivor who was close friends with both one of the victims and one of the perpetrators, "No Easy Answers" by Brooks Brown is the book for you. I will say, however, that the accounts of the shooting itself in this book are more accurate than the accounts in books written by the parents of Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott, which claim that these girls were asked if they believed in God and shot for saying "yes." Witness testimony states that neither of these things happened and the girl who actually was asked, Valeen Schnurr, said "yes" and was left alone.

Jul 15, 2015

I thought this book was riveting. Cullen did a good job at pulling together a lot of disparate pieces of information and presenting it all in a very readable way. I couldn't put it down. He's an excellent writer.

I was curious about the comments by Dec. 10, 2014. It's true, Cullen didn't shape the event as being the boys' reaction to being bullying. I'll look into some of the recommended books, Dec. 10 noted on that front.

Otherwise, this book is exceptional. I was surprised there were absolutely no photos, though. For that, you have to go to Cullen's website, which has a lot of documents and photos. Otherwise, Cullen paints a pretty clear picture based on his research. The result is well worth reading.

Nov 29, 2014

holy crap. this is excellent. depressing and disturbing, but excellent. it made me cry on the bus a couple of times. the media completely distorted this story back when it happened.

Jun 06, 2014

lots of new information

Feb 10, 2014

Mr Cullen writes with a lot of clarity. When reading the book I felt like I was right there as the events were unfolding. There was so much more detail in this book than what was divulged in the media.

Jul 19, 2013

A compellingly written but skewed chronicle of the tragedy, its background and aftermath. The author does include some noteworthy information: moving accounts of battles fought by recovering survivors, underreported details about the day of the shooting, insights into the dynamics of the relationship between the two shooters. Throughout though Cullen seems excessively invested in trying to prove, through selective omission of facts, that Eric and Dylan were not bullied outcasts seeking revenge. Read Jonathan Fast's "Ceremonial Violence", Brooks Brown's "No Easy Answers" and Ralph Larkin's "Comprehending Columbine" for a more rounded picture of the harassment and bullying both boys endured regularly at their school. Cullen overemphasizes the influence of Eric and Dylan's relationship and supposed mental disorders while underestimating and whitewashing the impact that relentless bullying had on their deadly actions.

crankylibrarian Apr 28, 2013

The most thoughtful, well-informed account ever written about the Columbine tragedy. Dave Cullen consulted hundreds of documents (many never released to the public until recently) and interviewed survivors, family members, school officials and police to assemble a nail biting reconstruction of the shootings, the killers' mentalities and the aftermath. In the process, he reveals that nearly all the common assumptions about Columbine (and school shootings in general) are wrong. The killers were neither Goths, "trench coat mafia", loners, or the victims of bullies; school shooters are less, not more, likely to play video games than other kids. While experts agree that Eric Harris was almost certainly a psychopath, Dylan Klebold comes off as a confused, depressive kid who under other circumstances might have turned his life around. A stellar work of journalism offering neither platitudes, nor easy answers.

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Jun 06, 2014

new information about a tragedy. a lot of psychological insight

Feb 18, 2014

This book is about the Columbine school massacre. Its written by a journalist who do 10 years of research. There is a lot of information in this book that was never made public. It really brings a voice to the victims and some insight into the perpetrators.

Jul 19, 2013

Excerpt from Johnathan Fast's 2007 book "Ceremonial Violence: A Psychological Explanation Of School Shootings" p.184-185 ________________________________________________________________________Eight months after the shooting, Regina Huerter, the director of Juvenile Diversion for the Denver District Attorney's Office, prepared a report on bullying at Columbine for the Governor's Columbine Review Commission. Interviews with 28 parents and 15 current and former students confirmed that bullying at the high school was sadistic in nature, frequent, and often went unpunished because the bullies were the jocks, the heroes of the high school, while the bullied were the "outcast' groups at the bottom of the social ladder. Teachers actually admitted to a fear of losing their jobs. Frank DeAngelis, the principal, and most of the deans and assistant principals at Columbine High School, had been coaches or had coaching backgrounds and were biased toward athletes. In the same report she stated that Eric and Dylan were perceived as loners and "were often the brunt of bullying and ridicule," most of it involving shoving, pushing, and name-calling. People who associated with them were also bullied, making it a liability to be in a social relationship with them. One girl reported being smashed into a locker and called a "fag lover" by a notorious bully, after she had been seen talking to Dylan. In another incident, "people surrounded them in the Commons and squirted ketchup packets all over them, laughing at them, calling them 'faggots.' That happened while teachers watched.


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Aug 13, 2013

"For Cullen to attribute the Columbine shootings to the psychological states of the killers is to deny environmental influences in the generation of those psychological states and tacitly to absolve others of any culpability. It is the equivalent of Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis attributing the killings to the fact that the boys were "evil"…Nothing is explained; however, it gives the labeler a false sense of certainty…" Ralph W. Larkin, Ph.D. Comprehending Columbine (2007) p. 151-152.

Aug 13, 2013

"For the outcast students, who were as horrified as anybody at the shootings, empathy existed for Eric and Dylan because they knew how much they had to endure. Several of the outcasts who were interviewed for this study indicated that, in retrospect, they were not surprised by the shootings. They, too, experienced the towering rage generated by feelings of powerlessness in the face of continual humiliation and harassment (Garbarino and deLara 2002)." Ralph W. Larkin, Ph.D. Comprehending Columbine (2007) p. 113.

Aug 13, 2013

"One of the main complaints of students at Columbine High School was that athletes were subject to a different set of standards than other students. The school was rife with rumors about coaches protecting athletes engaged in even felonious behavior. Students told stories about how they were harassed, embarrassed, or humiliated by athletes in the presence of coaches who either ignored or supported such behaviors. One student admitted that after being beaten up by a jock, he began taking a weapon to school…" Ralph W. Larkin, Ph.D. Comprehending Columbine (2007) p. 216.


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LocketLibrarian Apr 14, 2011

LocketLibrarian thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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