Cullen, D. (2009). Columbine. London: Old Street.

I found out about this book while reading a YA Library journal, it was in the recommended new release section and the write up grabbed my attention.

Columbine a single word, a verb, a proper noun, one school and an event of massive historic influence. The author, David Cullen was a reporter at the time of the shootings and this 360 page book (Plus notes, timeline, and fifteen page bibliography) details the ten years that Mr. Cullen has spent investigating the events of the shootings, what led up to them, what ensued afterwards, and the powerful draw that April 20, 1999 has on the North american psyche.

What I liked about this book:

  • David Cullen has extensive research citing interviews, victim impact statements, police reports, the killers journals. While he does make some assumptions they seem reasonably grounded in the evidence at hand.
  • Bullying, teen ostracism, and the devastating effects have increased since 1999. It is crucial to understand why people bully, what the effects of bullying can be, and what the warning signs of disaster are.
  • The book doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover, one can pick it up at a random page and start reading (see following comment about what I DIDN’T like about this book)

What I didn’t like about this book:

  • This book jumps around like House of Pain! Reading it straight through is the same as reading it by randomly picking pages.  It’s like he took his 10 years of notes and just bound them up into a book without bothering to organize them into sections.
  • The book is for OLDER teens, or at least mature and morbid teens. Though I saw this book in a YA Library journal it was cataloged as Adult Non-Fiction in my local library.
  • The writing is… average. Short and to the point, but lacking in artistic flavour.

All in all though I’m glad I read this book. For all the coverage this story got in the news at the time. It takes the extensive documentation that David Cullen has collected here to really start to understand what happened at Columbine and why.


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