Thursday, July 09, 2009


I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when I first heard about the events at Columbine High School. I was driving up the Alaska Highway in British Columbia listening to CBC radio when they broke in. Then, for several days, the CBC offered all type of analysis on why this phenomenon always happened in the States, but not in Canada (and why it would never happen in Canada. But, a few days later, it did). And while the "facts" at the time seemed to stand up months and even years later, what you think you know about the what and why is probably wrong. This book has been compared to In Cold Blood and I think that is a disservice to Truman Capote. Dave Cullen is not a storyteller (at least to the degree that Capote was), but he is enough of one to make this novel very compelling. I wish he had been able to speak to the parents of Harris and Klebold, because their seemingly total ignorance of what their kids were not only thinking, but doing, is almost incomprehensible. I know that my parents didn't know everything I did, but I don't think I could have amassed an arsenal of guns and bombs that I kept in my room, basement (if I had one), and garage without them finding something. The author had access to surveillance tapes, diaries, friends, teachers, police - everyone. While the events of that day were and have been labeled as a "shooting", it wasn't and it neither was it planned to be. And to think that no one had a clue or inkling that these 2 boys were heading in the direction they were is also false. Cullen also tries to explain the motivations behind why many of the misconceptions about what happened that day continue to be fostered by everyone from the police to the survivors and the families of the victims. This is a tough read, yet I found myself not wanting to put it down.


Anonymous said...

On Nov. 21, 2008, the Harris and Klebold parents were sent the same letter requesting cooperation. "Your stories have yet to be fully told, and I view your help as an issue of historical significance," it said. "In 10 years, there have been no major, mainstream books on Columbine. This will be the first, and it may be the only one." The letter came not from Mr. Cullen but from Jeff Kass, whose Columbine: A True Crime Story, published by the small Ghost Road Press, preceded Columbine by a couple of weeks.

"Mr. Kass, whose tough account is made even sadder by the demise of The Rocky Mountain News in which his Columbine coverage appeared, has also delivered an intensive Columbine overview. Some of the issues he raises and information he digs up go unnoticed by Mr. Cullen." --Janet Maslin, New York Times

"A decade after the most dramatic school massacre in American history, Jeff Kass applies his considerable reporting talents to exploring the mystery of how two teens could have planned and carried out such gruesome acts without their own family and best friends knowing about it. Actually, there were important clues, but they were missed or downgraded both by those who knew the boys best and by public officials who came in contact with them. An engrossing and cautionary tale for everyone who cares about how to prevent kids from going bad." -----Ted Gest, President, Criminal Justice Journalists

Stephanie said...

Fiction on the topic of how do these kids turn out like this and what was up with said kid's parents: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Won the 2005 Orange Prize. Explores nature vs nurture.

starviego said...

You are still being lied to. Big time. If you want to find out what really happened at Columbine I suggest you read what the eyewitnesses had to say: