Book Review: Columbine by David Cullen

columbineTen years after two high school students killed thirteen and critically injured 27 others, journalist Cullen creates a comprehensive look at the tragedy in Columbine. Cullen draws on hundreds of interviews, police reports and the killer’s journals and video tapes to piece together what occurred before, during and after the attack on April 20, 1999.
Right after the attack, and for years afterwards, many rumors and misinformation have been widely reported as fact. In an attempt to correct these, Cullen details the lives of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris — they are not loners, not a part of the Trench Coat Mafia, not targeting jocks or Christians. Cullen purports that Klebold and Harris were on the surface pretty normal high school kids. They had a group of friends, went to prom, held part-time jobs, played sports, applied to college. But underneath the surface, Harris was a
psychopath, demonstrating nine of the ten trademarks of one. Klebold was depressive and suicidal. Over the two years that they planned and practiced for the attack, their goal was to be bigger than Oklahoma City. And if they had been better bomb makers, they might have succeeded.
Cullen looks at errors made by law enforcement, public reaction, and the healing that took place for the survivors, the injured, the community and the world. He examines Harris’ and Klebold’s parents, who have never spoken publicly about the attack before this book was released, but who are largely blamed for what their children did.
In the vein of Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” “Columbine” is a chilling look inside the minds of those who kill, a reminder to be watchful of those around us in a world that is often not what it seems.