Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Columbine by Dave Cullen

This book is about the Columbine school shooting in 1999. This book is a well-rounded account of what happened at the school, the shooters, victims, and investigation.

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold brought guns and bombs to their high school and killed thirteen people and injured multiple others. They had an elaborate plan to outdo the disasters of Waco, Texas and Oklahoma City, but many of the plans fizzled out due to technical errors. While the death toll wasn't as high as they hoped, the lives they changed were numerous. Many of the injured faced struggles to recover and the families of the victims would never be the same, nor would the parents of the killers. With the killers dead, the investigation should have been open and shut, but larger questions loomed, like what led the boys to this point? As the truth about the boys and their evolution emerged, people couldn't help but wonder if this could have been prevented. This novel addresses how the boys got to April 20th, as well as the victims' struggles to move on and get their answers they need.

The attack on Columbine is one of those moments in history that affected the nation. It seemed to be one of the first major attacks on a school, and while there have been many afterwards and even bigger ones, such as Virginia Tech in 2007, Columbine has made a lasting effect on history. I work in a school, and you can see how the events in 1999 set forth a reform to classroom procedure. Reading this novel, there didn't seem to be any kind of procedure for teachers and students. Now, though, on top of tornado and fire drill, schools practice lockdowns. It even changed the way police handle these types of situations.

I felt as though this book did an excellent job recreating the event without glorifying the killers. While I read this book, the  account of what happened on April 20th sent chills up my body to realize the horrors that people went through and the coldness of the killers. In general, I found this book fascinating, especially to realize all of the warning signs, particularly from Eric, and how maybe it all could have been prevented. As chilling as it was to read about the killers' downward spiral, it was encouraging to see the victims rebuild their lives and yet heartbreaking to see many struggling.

Non-fiction is not my genre of choice, but this book held my attention and even had me looking online for more information. While this book does not serve create a profile for teen shooters, this book is eye-opening and worth the read.

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