Columbine by Dave Cullen

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: It’s worse than you remember.

Quick synopsis: The Columbine school massacre of 1999. If you were alive, I am sure you remember where you were.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Columbine is only the 5th most deadly school shooting in U.S. history.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: One of the killers actually went to prom the weekend before the massacre.

My Take: I pride myself on remembering historical events accurately. At the very least, I know enough to identify things I don’t know. Turns out, I failed miserably when it comes to Columbine. There is cold comfort in knowing I am by far not the only one.

Things I remember about Columbine:

  1. The killers were goth kids
  2. They were bullied and committed the massacre to even the score
  3. They wore trench coats
  4. Columbine is in Colorado
  5. Their parents were neglectful
  6. Other than their parents, no one could have been expected to see this coming

I was only fully right on #4. #3 was only true for the first few minutes.

Klebold and Harris weren’t bullied. As I mention above, one went to prom with a date the weekend before. They were not goths. Their parents were not neglectful, but certainly guilty of underestimating the depth of evil in their kids. As for not seeing this coming, well, Dave Cullen will dive into that for you.

The book is great and scary all in one. Cullen tells the story out of order in a way that makes sense. He weaves a lot of people into the narrative without overwhelming the reader and his insight is earned through facts. Thank God he sticks to the facts because in the aftermath of massacre, it seems like no one else did. Including me.

Verdict: This is required reading.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Harold Schechter, Maniac
  • Patrick Radden Keefe, Empire of Pain and Say Nothing
  • John Carreyrou, Bad Blood
  • Harry Markopolos, No One Would Listen
  • David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Sheri Fink, Five Days at Memorial
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Columbine by Dave Cullen
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