Columbine by Dave Cullen Audiobook Review

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.

Columbine, Dave Cullen, Book Cover


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.

Other Reviews of Columbine by Dave Cullen:

Helen’s Book Blog
Jenny’s Books
Book Journey

Purchase Columbine here. It’ $6.40 for the paperback as of 10/30/11. *the link takes you to Amazon where I am an affiliate.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Hmm, I bought this one a while back, started it, got depressed, and couldn’t finish. I’m also not much for nonfiction unless the topic is right. I think I’ll try again based on your review.

    Question: I’ve never done many audiobooks. Do you think you prefer it in this format?

    • Honestly, it’s worth a shot you can go to to preview the audio and if you like it, I would say get it out from your library, just because you are new to audiobooks. I won’t lie to you and say audiobooks are something most people instantly click with and love. It’s kind of an acquired tasted, but it will happen when you find the right one. I’m sorry to go off on a tangent, but I don’t want to say YES get this and then you be like ‘ahhh I hate audiobooks and it’s all your fault.’ So I’m just going to tentatively recommend this one from you and also HIGHLY recommend taking it from the library.

  2. I read this (rather than listening to it) and loved it. Definitely not an easy read emotionally, but agree that the narrative makes it feel like reading fiction, so would recommend it to people who don’t usually feel comfortable with nonfiction. Excellent piece of journalism that I couldn’t put down.

  3. I listened to the audiobook a couple years ago and was transfixed by how wrong the media got it. I found this book incredibly engaging and fascinating. I did something really stupid though. I listened to this right before the school year started so I would have nightmares that my students were trying to kill me.

    • Yea, that’s probably not the best decision to make, but I think in light of reading Columbine, that is a very real fear, although what happened is rare, but I could see it happening more and more as our society becomes more violent.

  4. I remember the Columbine shootings pretty well too. I was a high school freshman, and it always scared me that two people could do something like that. I almost didn’t read this book because it seemed like it would just rehash everything I already knew, but I am so glad I did read it because it was so fascinating. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks afterward.

    • Right, it’s been months since I read Columbine, but I still think about it. And when I show this video for a class I teach (Tough Guise) they talk about Columbine and inside my head I’m thinking NO that’s not what the book said.

  5. This is one of the books on our state choice awards list and I really need to read it, but I haven’t been in the mood. thanks for the encouragement. Great review.

  6. I totally want to read this. I’ve only got a few non-fiction titles on my TBR list, and my friend Ruth has been telling me to read this one forever. She’s a huge non-fiction junkie. I’m so glad you reviewed & liked this one — I remember 9/11 very clearly and I always like reading multiple perspectives of events.

  7. This book has been on my booklist for a long time. I remember being in my AP English class when I found out about the shootings. Good review.

  8. I thought this book was really powerful as well. I was a freshman in high school when it happened to and it was a huge deal. It was interesting to read about what was happening behind the media flurry.

    • Yes! It’s one of the most powerful non-fiction books I’ve read.

      Yeah, I remember it being a huge deal in my school too. Like we had drills and stuff afterwards. Which is good I suppose, to have an emergency plan in place.

  9. Hey April. Thanks for the really nice review of my book, and the nice comments from so many of you.

    I definitely did not want it to read like a textbook. (Yikes, who would want to read that?) I like narrative nonfiction, and tried to make it read like a novel–while sticking 100% to the truth. The truth doesn’t have to be boring; in fact, it’s often more fascinating than fiction.

    I’m always glad to see people using it in schools.

    Annette, are you in Illinois? If you do read it, and like it, I hope you’ll encourage others to vote. That award would really help with schools. Some administrators are afraid of it.