Dave Cullen's Columbine is a non-fictional breakdown of the true events behind the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado. What makes the book fascinating is that there is no guesswork behind the hypothesis outlined and presented in this work; with all the facts being garnished from concrete documentation in conjunction with the investigation. The author begins the book with a prelude on the sources he used to develop this masterpiece, which puts the reader's mind at ease regarding any speculation or of the author's motives and personal opinions.
Having lived nearly right down the street in Colorado Springs, Colorado and occurring one year after graduating high school myself, the Columbine Shooting of course deeply affected me and hit close to home when it happened. Just as I took interest in the JonBenet Ramsey case that took place in Boulder, Colorado, in which the crime itself was on an entirely different level, I was able to devour this book completely from start to finish, and I couldn't put it down. It's amazing how Cullen was able to explain what REALLY happened during the shooting, as the rest of America was under certain false perceptions regarding the incident and the shooter's motives and even their personalities.
An example of a misconception Cullen addresses is the true story around the phrase "Trench-coat Mafia", which all readers will associate as being synonymous with the Columbine shooting. America was under the impression that shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were gang members or of similar relation to the “Trench-coat Mafia”, when in all actuality, the shooters chose to wear the trench-coats not just for fashionable purposes, but for practicality to conceal their weapons that day. Cullen describes how one witness conned the phrase "Trench-coat Mafia" and what anomalies made it stick to the shooters Klebold and Harris. The author also brings to light the truth behind the misconception of Cassie Bernall’s infamous comment to believing in God. After the Columbine incident, reporters and the media were under the impression that Harris had asked Bernall whether or not she believed in God and upon answering yes, he had shot her. In all actuality, this myth was loosely composed by witnesses in the library during a state of shock, and was re-evaluated during in-depth investigations and interviews with the survivors from the library where Bernall was killed.
For a tragedy such as this occurring in today’s time, this book reveals every truth and addresses every perception comprised by the media. Because this massacre was on a large scale that involved many people and witnesses, it is not hard to see why so much evidence was misconstrued. Ten years later, this account of Columbine is crucial because it educates the public with facts and puts to rest many falsities and untruths behind the incident.
This book was written extremely well and I thoroughly enjoyed it, as macabre and disturbing the tragedy was. Hats off to Cullen for creating an extraordinary piece of work detailing the events at Columbine and for helping the public better understand the motives and events leading up to the attack. This is a great must-read for high school-age readers and up; not because of the horrific or entertaining elements by any means, but because it is educational and important for people to understand why these events transpired.