If you are around the same age as me, you probably remember when the school shooting at Columbine hit the news. I was in sixth grade. We didn’t have school because it was spring break. I remember my dad watching the news, and it was breaking, and I remember being shocked and horrified by the video footage and images. I also remember the aftermath,where people wondered if it was because of violent music, video games, or bullying that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold decided to open fire on their high school. Over 10 years later, we still don’t have the exact answer, but Dave Cullen provides an excellent examination of what happened in his book Columbine.
What emerges from Columbine is a fascinating and disturbing image. Dave Cullen posits that all we have been told about Columbine by the media is wrong. He profiles Harris and Klebold as sociopaths who were well-liked at school, never in the Trench Coat Mafia, and people who were actually bullies themselves. Flipping what I remember hearing on it’s head.
Columbine often takes on narrative form to illustrate all of Cullen’s points. The book reads a little bit like an actual story rather than a textbook, as it’s pretty much told mostly from in sequential order, from before the tragedy to the aftermath. Columbine hit me harder than when I actually lived the event. Maybe I have more empathy and process things differently than as a kid, but it hit me that all those kids don’t have lives anymore, that you don’t know what’s lurking beneath the surface, and that maybe we aren’t all as safe as we think we are.
I’m not a non-fiction person normally, but I think it’s important to dip my toes in the genre every now and then. I think Columbine by Dave Cullen was an excellent way to gain new perspective on the tragedy and to try and understand why. Honestly, I think if you remember the tragedy and want to know more and become more aware of the media spin, you should absolutely read this well researched, gut wrenching book.
I read Columbine via audiobook.Don Leslie narrates this unabridged 14 hour and 6 minute audiobook produced by Blackstone Audio. He sounds a little bit like a news anchor. Leslie’s voice is never boring. I never felt like I was going to fall asleep listening. I actually really liked listening to this audiobook while cleaning, and in fact at one point while cleaning the bathroom, perhaps because of fumes and the narration, wound up sitting on the bathroom floor until I finished the book. It was that good.
Disclosure: Purchased copy with my audible credit.