Columbine by Dave Cullen

I don’t know why I read books that don’t let me sleep at night, but this is a really well-written take on the Columbine shooting based on police evidence, interviews, tons of research, etc.

The timeline jumps around, which helps keep it interesting, I think. And it covers the story from long before the shootings to years afterward, discussing lives, motivation, the shooters, the victims, psychology, the investigation, the community, etc. It really is a thorough examination of the whole situation in Littleton, Colorado before and after the shooting.

There were very few lulls in my interest, when I was reading, so if you’re interested in the topic, I recommend you check out this book.

If you’re interested in a book review, make sure to check out this one from the New York Times:

It’s to his credit that Cullen, a Denver journalist who covered the story for Salon and Slate, makes the reader care about getting it right. “Columbine” is an excellent work of media criticism, showing how legends become truths through continual citation; a sensitive guide to the patterns of public grief, foreshadowing many of the same reactions to Sept. 11 (lawsuits, arguments about the memorial, voyeuristic bus tours); and, at the end of the day, a fine example of old-fashioned journalism. While Cullen’s storytelling doesn’t approach the novelistic beauty of “In Cold Blood” (an unfair standard, perhaps, but an unavoidable comparison for a murder story this detailed), he writes well enough, moving things along with agility and grace. He leaves us with some unforgettable images — like the pizza slices floating aimlessly about the school commons, which was flooded with three inches of water because the sprinkler system had gone off — and he has a knack for the thumbnail sketch. “He was a shrink turned hostage negotiator turned detective, with an abridged version of the complete works of Shakespeare in the back seat of his car,” Cullen writes of Dwayne Fuselier, an F.B.I. agent and one of the book’s heroes. “He could be a little stoic. Hugging his sons felt awkward but he would reach out to embrace survivors when they needed it.”

I recommend it. It’s a great piece of writing, but interesting to know the inside perspectives into the shooting that changed America.

Now that I finished that one, I’m on to another interesting piece so far, Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss. This one examines food manufacturers and questions how they impact obesity in America and beyond.



2 thoughts on “Columbine by Dave Cullen

  1. Didn’t happen in Littleton.Littleton became widely known in 1999 when the Columbine High School massacre occurred at nearby Columbine High School, which the news media erroneously reported as being located in the city. The school is actually located in Columbine, an unincorporated community in Jefferson County, yet in a ZIP code associated primarily with Littleton. The school is in the Jefferson County school system, and not one of the Littleton Public Schools.

    The boundaries of Littleton’s city limits, like many cities, are irregular and don’t always follow landmarks such as paved streets. The Google Map below shows the approximate boundaries of the Littleton city limits.

    Educate yourself and click this link.

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