This morning, I finished “Columbine” by Dave Cullen.
Here’s what I wrote as a review in Visual Bookshelf:
“I read this because it’s on the American Library Association Notable Books list.
It’s tough to read–I had a nightmare or two reading it.
But here’s what I appreciate about this…so much came out in the hours, days and weeks following the Columbine massacre that was later shown to be not true. It wasn’t that people were intentionally putting out inaccuracies, but that the craziness of the attack made it hard to sort out quickly.
Cullen was able to make use of many sources and to pull together information that was finally released by law enforcement to make timelines, go back and correct reports, and try to pull pieces together. He gave people reasonable benefit of the doubt, and largely let people speak for themselves.
I was irritated by the way that Cullen sometimes very awkwardly drove home his point. He would present very reasonable evidence, and then conclude by stating what he’d made obvious. Other than that, I learned an awful lot reading this, and will recommend it to others.”
What I’d add to that is that he seemed to work hard at presenting Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who orchestrated the attack, and who killed themselves in the process, in as complete and fair a way as possible. He eventually describes Harris as a classic psychopath. Their parents come off as regular people who did their best in raising their children in loving ways, in ways that reflected their values.
I admire that Cullen did this hard work, and I’ll be suggesting this book to many, to add layers of complexity to what may have seemed like a simple story.