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Friday, October 2, 2009

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Finally. I am done reading Columbine. Wow! What a book. It took me so much longer to read this book then any other book, because I would only read small sections of it at a time so that I could slowly digest what I was reading. It was a bit weird for me to read it so slowly, because I usually just dive right in and finish books rather quickly, but this time was different. I don't know why it was so different, maybe because this is a true story and maybe because I could only take so much ugliness at a time. Either way, I did it, and I'm done. And as a result I was reminded of when I was in college and I read Philip Gourevitch's book, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families , and how I couldn't stop imagining what I was reading and I couldn't grasp how as a nation we were well aware of this impending situation and yet we did not intervene prior, during, and/or after, and it just made me sick to my stomach and well it really opened my eyes to the ugliness in the world and not just in my backyard. Not to say that I was naive and unaware of the atrocities being committed on a daily basis overseas, but I just wasn't as aware of our role in these atrocities - so I suppose I was a bit naive with regards to politics (which was how I came to take a Political Anthropology course - I wanted to know what was going on in the world, not just in the US). But I digress, my point is that Dave Cullen's book, Columbine, brought me back to a reality that I had forgotten about - a reality that lurks in our schools and our towns and mortifies us when we are confronted with it. A reality that shakes us as a nation and screams at us to wake up! Cullen has produced a well written and gripping book that details the events leading up to April 20th, 1999 and the aftermath that followed. I remember watching the news that day and wondering to myself what would make these kids do such a horrible thing to their peers and themselves. I remember the pictures splashed all over the papers and news - kids running out of buildings, someone falling out of a window, people clutching each other and crying; I just couldn't believe my eyes. And then the facts came together and you find out that two boys were responsible for drastically ending/challenging/changing lives and a whole community - and you think to yourself, what the frack happened to these kids that they would even consider, let alone actually shoot up their school and then kill themselves. What the frack was going on in Columbine? The answer to that question is simple - read Columbine by Dave Cullen to find out. Okay, so the book doesn't totally answer all of your questions, but it nearly does, which is as close as we are ever going to get to understanding what happened that day. The research, interviews, and planning of this book must have been exhaustive to say the least, but in the end, Cullen has created a meticulous piece of writing that helps provide a clear understanding of how one day can completely shatter so many lives in so many different ways. The misinformation that we were fed by the media is cleared up within this book. We learn about Eric and Dylan (the two murderers), the people that survived and the ones who didn't, the community and how it was affected by such a tragedy and the police investigation into April 20th, 1999. Cullen includes excerpts from Eric and Dylan's diaries and websites and he discusses the Basement Tapes that both boys created as an explanation as to what they were planning and what they envisioned as a result. Cullen also included biographical information about the people involved in the investigation, along with detailing how evidence was bungled, information withheld and how on April 20th, 1999 the police could have responded differently to the chaos. There were so many surprising facts revealed in this book that you are left with the realization of how much information was fabricated by the media and how little truth was actually reported. This has to be one of the most eye opening books I have read in quite some time - it definitely left an impression on me. I would most definitely recommend this book to everyone, because even though it is disturbing to read, it is an important book that needs to be read. And so, I move on to my next reads, which are Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles, S&S&Sea Monsters, Handle With Care and In The Woods. I would have to say that this book qualifies me for one read off of my Clear Off Your Shelves reading challenge and I would place it as a RIP read, because boy did it scare me at times to read about two boys who were capable of such horrible acts. Alright, well, I'm off! Happy Reading to everyone!!!

5 comments:

Lisa said...

Great review. I'm really looking forward to this one--well, as much as you can look forward to something so hard to read.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Thanks Lisa! Can't wait to read what you thought about the book!

S. Krishna said...

I feel like this would be a difficult, but very important book to read. I often take my non-fiction slow, so I wouldn't have a problem with that part! Thanks for the review.

Coconut Library said...

I've seen this book recently, but haven't picked it up. I'm from Colorado (Littleton, actually) but didn't go to Columbine. The massacre happened during my first year away at college, and I remember the fear of waiting to see who had been killed. It was impossible to get a call through to Colorado for hours after. I will definitely have to pick this book up.

Did you know that this month's O magazine has an interview with one of the mothers of the killers? That might be interesting for you to read after reading this book.

A Bookish Way of Life said...

Coconut Library - Thanks for the tip regarding O magazine. I subscribe to it so I will be checking out this issue soon. It'll definitely be interesting to read what the mother thought about everything - I can't even imagine how much she suffered too.