Dave Cullen's Columbine is a circuitous tale through the days leading up to and following the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. I find myself appalled and shocked and saddened at the loss of life and the immense sadness and pain of the families of the Thirteen who died as well as the survivors still fighting for life everyday.
This story holds some real life significance for me, as there are events in my past, in my family, that mirror what the Klebold and Harris families dealt with. Our pain was mirrored in theirs. Sometimes you just know, from experience, that there was nothing anyone could have done, let alone the families. People will do what they will do. I think what is most heartbreaking is that these families will never have the chance to really heal. They could never mourn. They can never participate in any "anniversaries". They will forever be shunned and the community would never rest. The final act of the killers,"
Dave writes, " was among their cruelest: they deprived the survivors of a living perpetrator. They deprived the families of a focus for their anger and their blame. There would be no cathartic trial for victims. There was no killer to rebuke in a courtroom, no judge to impose the maximum penalty. South Jeffco (Jefferson County) was seething with anger and it would be deprived of a reasonable target. Displaced anger would riddle the community for years...
What stood out to me, glaringly, was that Eric Harris was a manipulative psychopath, full and complete. Dylan wasn't so much a follower as he was a person that wanted someone to pay attention to him. Eric fit the bill and fed his underlying rage. They fed each other.One of the passages that I highlighted about pair killers was that one fed off of the other. Cullen writes, "It takes heat and cold to make a tornado(he's quoting FBI Supervisory Special Agent Fusilier). Eric craved heave but he couldn't sustain it. Dylan was a volcano. You could never tell when he might erupt.
Together, these two cooked up the worst school shooting in history.
There is so much that we think we know about Columbine, because we kept CNN and MSNBC and local news on 24/7... and yet there is so much we did not know. Until I opened the book, I fully believed the martyr story. How disheartening to read how the actual encounter came about and how it became twisted in the media, so much so that a family profited off of a lie.
I encourage anyone who is even mildly interested in this subject to pick up this book and read it. The writing style is simple and straightforward, nothing superfluous. It is extensive and thorough and also heavily detailed. In my opinion, well done.
My only complaints were length and a jarring jumps back and forth from past to the attacks to the aftermath and then back again... more history, more revealing, a blurb here and there, and then the author is a year past the attacks again and then in the next chapter he's back to Eric and Dylan planning the attacks. I believe I would have comprehended more with a linear presentation, but that's just me.