Columbine by Dave Cullen

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma-City style, and to leave “a lasting impression on the world.” Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence-irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting “another Columbine.”

In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris, and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal.

The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who came to stockpile a basement cache of weapons, to record their raging hatred, and to manipulate every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boy’s tapes and diaries, he gives the first complete account of the Columbine tragedy.

A close-up portrait of hatred, a community rendered helpless, and the police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers-an unforgettable cautionary tale for our times.

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Comments
  1. Jack Adams, Mrs Williams says:

    I picked the book columbine becuase the story really interests me. I have only heard small parts of the actual story. By reading this I will get a very clear understanding of the whole story. I will learn why the shooter did what they did. It will be very interesting to find out their reasons behind it.

    • Stefen says:

      Stefen May, Mrs. Billie 4/5 English 1

      I also choose to read Columbine by Dave Cullen. It about a very difficult subject, the worst school shooting in America. I choose to read it because I find it interesting to read about tragedies to find out why they happened, and how they can be prevented. So Columbine quickly caught my eye. I don’t think I relate to the characters in the book, because two of them were killers. However i am strong just like all the students and staff. I found this book to be amazing, it kept me interested and investigated it in thorough detail. I think it is worthy.

  2. Jack Ahern says:

    Jack Ahern
    P-2
    Williams
    I chose Columbine by Dave Cullen. This book is about one worst tragedies of the past twenty years. On April 20, 1999, two young men went to Columbine High School in Colorado and killed twelve students and one teacher. This book shows what made the kids do it and what type of toll it has taken on America. I’m interested to see why they would do such a horrible crime.

  3. Chris Kallas_Williams says:

    I chose this book because I heard about the tragedy that happened in a high school in Colorado. I never have heard the story behind it and why the students did it. I want to see the investigations that the author did to see what the students did. I really want to see their journals that they kept up untill the tragedy. I really hope to learn the whole story from the shootings and killing.

  4. Jack Rogers, Mrs. Williams says:

    I chose to read this book because I’m interested in learning about the events that took place at Columbine High School in 1999. It was an event that I’m sure shook the nation in a fashion similar to 9/11, but I was only 5 years old and I wasn’t able to comprehend the situation in an intelligent fashion. I’d like to understand what was going through the minds of the students that committed this act and what ultimately led them to the decision to kill some of their fellow classmates. Such a crime is unimaginable and has rarely been repeated since its occurrence. I hope to learn the real story behind the shooting and understand the difference between that and the story that was projected by the news media at the time.

  5. Lillian Leung_Mrs Williams says:

    Columbine caught my attention when I learnt that it is one of the non-fiction books in the list of books. After reading and listening to its brief introduction, I wanted to read the book to find out more about the killing and the real story behind it, not just how the media presented it. I hope, through reading Columbine, I can care more about the society I live in, as well as people around me. Moreover, I chose this book to because it is so true and maybe even relatable, as it is the story of two high-school kids. I am looking forward to reading this book and enjoying the process.

  6. Nicky Relias Saunders Period 1 says:

    I chose the book, Columbine, by Dave Cullen. While we were going over the books on the ABE list, this specific book jumped out at me because I am very aware of the bullying and other trouble kids go through in high school and I am still shocked that it could ever lead to such a terrible event. By reading this book, I am hoping to learn about the true motives that drove the kids to commit such a crime. This seemed like the most intriguing book on the ABE list to me.

  7. Jonny Sims, p2 williams says:

    I chose this book because when I read it last year it was way better than it looked. Its one of the few books that’s held my attention long enough for me to actually learn from it rather than my usual reading page by page because most books are so boring. If I know its going to be a good book then why not read it again?

  8. Toni Gonzalez/ Saunders Period 1 says:

    I chose this book because when I heard Columbine was a true story about bullying in high school that caused some students to snap it made me think about what people could be capable of in our school. Im also aware that kids going through ruff times in high school, if its about school or family problems at home which could led them to thinking about bad things. By reading this book it will help me understant why the kids did the crime they did.

  9. I chose Columbine because Columbine is one of those huge parts of American history that I never really learned anything. I have always wondered what drove two seemingly normal kids to mass murder and suicide. Bullying happens every day. I want to read the book to see what made these kids snap.

  10. Ernest Battaglia Saunders Period 1 says:

    I Chose this book because I have heard of the story about the Columbine shooting, being the biggest school shooting in United States history. I really wanted to hear what happened throughout that day, and what the kids were thinking when they were killing kids. In addition, when I watched the video about the book, he said that the kids at the school forgave the shooter quickly. So, I want to know why they actually forgave them so quickly.

  11. Forrester Evertsen/ Saunders/ period 2 says:

    I’ve heard things here and there about this event, but never truly knew what to believe. I chose this book in order to learn about this event that had a significant impact on our lives. I wanted to gain a perspective on possibly why these two teens committed such a gruesome act. These teens were real and were going through real-life problems. They weren’t made up like teens in other books. That is why I chose this book.

  12. Ian Rusthoven-Saunders p.2 says:

    I choose to read the book Columbine because i have heard about the tragedy at the High school in Colorado, and since i was to young to remember it, i really wanted to learn more in depth about the community and the actual killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. I really would like to know the events that lead up to this terrible tragedy. I really feel for the community and hope that after reading this i can understand their pain.

  13. Jacqueline Vallera, Williams says:

    I chose to read the book, Columbine, because I had heard of the tragedy during the Virginia Tech shootings. I was interested in knowing more about it. I didn’t understand how someone could do something like that. The summary on the Abe list noted that the book focused on the journals and tapes left behind by the boys who were the shooters, Dylan and Eric. Overall, it was a good book that contained a lot of interesting pieces that gave insight into why they did what they did.

  14. Jake B-Dean says:

    I chose the book Columbine because I have some basic knowledge of the events that happened that day. I think what happened was shocking and I just thought that picking up this book would be a way for me to understand what truly happened.

  15. George Tolbert says:

    I chose the book Columbine from the Abe list because i new the basic outline of what happened and was intrested in what the author had researched about the to boys. I wanted to know the truth about what happened and thought this book would be able to provide that.

  16. Emily Chang/ Saunders/ Period 1 says:

    I chose this book because I love reading about mysteries as well as about the reasons to why the main characters in this book. Reading non-fiction about America can tell me the reasons why there are what there are here right now. I love searching for the truth and to able to find out what is real and the facts about the stories that I hear.

  17. Emily Chang/ Saunders/ Period 1 says:

    I believe that relating to the characters in this book can be pretty difficult because I don’t know what it feels like to lose someone. But I can relate by understand the message of how much sadness that these two boys have caused for the school. When it is unfair to the families who wanted the killers to be brought down when they are dead. The sadness of losing someone in your life is important because it fills in the void to which you want to have in your life. Parents who had lost their kids in the Columbine shooting they had lost a part of something in their life that need to be filled in

  18. Ernest Battaglia Saunders Period 1 says:

    I really cant relate to the two main characters in the book because they got so mad and out of control that they started taking unnecessary actions which hurt others in the way. However, I can relate losing someone who is very close to me and how sudden it was. The kids and students that were killed at Columbine their parents must have been devastated and mostly in shock that something so terrible had happen to their kids in a place that is suppose to be a safe environment for them.

  19. Ian Rusthoven Saunders Period 1 says:

    I don’t relate to the characters in this book at all. They got so out of thdeir minds to go throgh and plant bombs in their school trying to kill up 400 kids when they failed they went through and shot students. The only thing that i can relate from this book is the pain that the victims families went through when losing one of their loved ones. Its very difficult to cope with the pain of losing a loved one especially when it was something they couldnt control. In conclusion, the characters in this book are hard to relate to. The only think i is possible to relate is how they were bullied throughout highschool and are going through the difficult times that we are going through in choosing colleges ACT etc.

  20. Forrester Evertsen/ Saunders/ period 2 says:

    While reading this book, I can say that I relate to Dylan to a small extent. The main concept of Dylan trying to find himself in the beginning of high school is what i can relate to. The anxiety of trying to find those who you should hang out with or trying to become popular. It’s a new world in high school and it’s almost like you have to start all over again. It really must have been hard for him to adjust to such a harsh environment that high school can be.

  21. George Tolbert/ saunders/ period 1 says:

    In the book Columbine i can’t relate myself to Eric and Dylan in any way. But i can relate myself to the family members who were in shock after hearing the news of the death of their loved ones. In the book some of the victims family memebers would think of things completely unrealated to the tragedy and wonder why. As for myself i have found myself doing the same in situations were im confronted with something tragic.

  22. Nicky Relias/ Saunders 1 says:

    While reading this book, I feel that in some ways I can relate to the characters. All of the kids at the school are generally normal high school kids who go through similar things as I do. Of course there are many specific situations where I differ for the kids in colobine but for the most part I do relate. The two people whom I do not relate to are Eric and Dylan. The two boys are so very different than me in terms of there hobbies and hates. Unlike myself, Eric is so filled with desires to con people and Dylan is flooded with extreme emotion. In all I can generally relate to the characters in the book except of Eric and Dylan.

  23. Jake B-Dean says:

    I do not relate to the characters in the book Columbine at all. The reason I say this is because of the mental state of both of the main characters. Eric and Dylan are completely insane and do not go along with the “normal” of high school student. A normal high school student is one that does normal things and I consider myself to be one of these students. Even though everybody becomes emotional at times and can get extremely stressed and upset, they do not react by planning a total slaughter of their classmates. Therefore I do not relate at all to the two students, Eric and Dlyan, of the Columbine shootings.

  24. Joe Griffin-English 1-Mrs. Billie says:

    I chose to read the book Columbine because I wanted to learn more about why the horrible massacre had taken place. All the other books on the Abe list did not seem to catch my eye as much as Columbine did. I like the book because of the information Dave Cullen told the reader. He also answers many of my questions including why the shooting took place. Thus, I like reading this book despite all of the sorrow.

  25. Aaron Hoffman says:

    Aaron Hoffman period 4/5

    1. I chose the book Columbine because it looked very interesting and i had heard about this event but I wanted to know the truth about why Eric and Dylan (the shooters) did what they did at Columbine. I also had heard that they did this because they were bullied and teased but this book might tell otherwise. Lastly the event was a huge tragedy in American history and it is a good thing to learn about it and see how it has changed the lives of many Americans who may or may not have had a child in high school.

    3. I believe that this book was very worthy of being on the Abe Lincoln book list. This book had everything on the event at Columbine such as journals, diaries, eyewitness accounts, news footage, police reports, exc. and really ruled out any heard rumors that one may have heard before and told what really happened. At the same time it is a nonfiction novel, it was not boring and kept me drawn in. Columbine is a great book and is very worthy of being on the Abe Lincoln book list.

  26. Robby O’Neill English 1 Mrs. Billie P# 9

  27. Robby O’Neill English 1 Mrs. Billie P# 9

    The reason Columbine caught my attention was that the characters in the story seemed so normal and easy to relate to. That is why I was intrigued to find out how normal teenagers could turn into cold blooded killers, so fast. While I was reading the introductory of the main characters (Dylan and Eric) I found it almost disturbing how easy it was to relate to there teenage lives. Although later in the raising action I couldn’t even imagine relating to them, as the story progressed the killing of innocent people didn’t bother them in any way, it was so strange and surprising.

  28. Antonio Diaz-English1-Mrs.Billie-Period1 says:

    The reason why I chose the book “Columbine” was, that I couldn’t come to understand why two teenage boys would go to their school and kill classmates. At first the book wasn’t enjoyable. I thought it was dull from the author talking about the characters’ life. Later on I realize how important that was for theauthor to do that. As I kept on reading I started to like i more an more with the desturbing killings and the sad aftermath.

  29. Donny Kwasigroch/English 1/Mrs. Billie/period 4/5 says:

    1. I chose this book out of all the other books on the Abe list because the subject of Columbine really intrests me, and i wanted to know more about what really happened, who were the students who planned the shootings, and how was the school affected by it.

    4. I loved this book. It was so informing and gave lots of great insights on what really happened. I went into great detail on the killers and the students who were killed and injured, but also he went into great detail on the horrific events as they occured on April 20, 1999. I would give this book and A+!!

  30. Matt Price, English 1, Mrs. Billie P9 says:

    1. The reason i chose to read Columbine is because I have heard of it before and never really got to know the whole story. Also this book seemed a lot more interesting then the other books on the Abe list because I was interested to find out what people had felt while going through a high school shooting.

    2. At first it seems like Eric and Dylan are pretty easy to relate to but after i found out the sick things they had planned i could not relate to them at all. Its hard to believe that normal high school kids like them could shoot people and have fun doing it.

  31. Meg Hannigan - English 1, Mrs. Billie's class period 9 says:

    I chose to read the book Columbine because I thought it was interesting to know that the author, Dave Cullen, had researched the material himself and came up with his own conclusions. He studied different documents, interviews, notebooks, videos, etc, to come up with some sort of closure to the horrible tragedy. Cullen also observed the boys’ behaviors through these documents to figure out what type of motives drove them to create this massive disaster. Because the depth the book goes well into the feelings and thoughts of all those that were interviewed, Columbine definitely deserves to be on this year’s Abe list. Dave Cullen had descriptive details about the calamity and its lasting effects over not only the small town in Colorado, but all of America.

  32. Haley Planson-Billie-English 1-Per 1 says:

    1. I chose this book because after watching the book trailer, it left me wondering. I wondered why the boys would have done such an awful task and also what the impact it had left on the town. Also, I had heard from various people that it was an amazing book and I wanted to see for myself. One last reason I chose Columbine was that the cover was very eerie and creepy, which made me interested to see what was inside.

    3. I believe that this book is worthy to be on the 2011 Abe list. Dave Cullen spent years researching and pulling out thoughts and facts from various reports and even the two boys’ diaries. This book is has so many details and I really enjoyed the way the author wrote it. He sometimes would be serious and then at other times he would make jokes so that it would relate to a younger audience.

    Haley Planson, English 1, Mrs. Billie’s class period one

  33. Zac Silver says:

    Zac Silver English 1 Mrs.Billie p6/8

    1. I chose Columbine because I wanted to find out more detailed information about why Eric and Dylan wanted to commit this act. I also found it interesting how students, similar in age to me, could preform such a horrendous crime. I had many unanswered questions that intrigued me to find the answers.

    4.I thought Columbine was a good book, not great. It was a very hard book to finish because it had so much detailed information that lost some of my interest toward the end. After all of my questions were answered I became uninteresting in the information that didn’t answer my questions. I would still recommend this book to someone that wants to find out the answers to their questions because it doesn’t leave any information out.

  34. Ryan Lowe says:

    I chose this book because i was very curious to know exactly what happened. Also when the librarians were talking to us about this book they mentioned not only that it is a great book but that it explains what really happened, not what the news casts said about it all. I have done research on columbine a while back and i never could find enough information to fully understand what went on. So choosing this book to read was a way to understand what actually happened.

  35. Ryan Lowe says:

    I do not believe i relate to either of the characters in Columbine at all. I believe this because the thoughts and mind set of the two boys are far from mine. Although not only me, but other students as well have been put under lots of stress, have been made fun of, or possibly have been depressed emotionally, I do not believe one student at Hinsdale Central would ever think of handling it the way they did. Another reason why i do not relate to either of these characters is that i could not harm anyone, i mean yea crack a joke here and there but thats it, nothing compared to what they had in store for their fellow students.

  36. Emily Chang/ Saunders/ Period 1 says:

    I believe that this book deserves to be on the Abe award list because it changes the view of American history to tell all of us stories to why this changed us. How bullying can hurt all of us and that tragedy can happen when adults can’t help and neither can kids. Don’t hurt others when they haven’t hurt you.

  37. Julia Tabaczyk says:

    Julia Tabaczyk/Ms. Saunders & Ms. Madonia/Period 1

    a. Why did you choose this particular book from the Abe list?
    I chose to read the book, Columbine by Dave Cullen because I wanted to learn more about the tragedy that stunned the world on April 20, 1999. Before reading the book and understanding the events that occurred, I knew very little about the shooting that happened at Columbine High School in Colorado. The facts I knew were very limited and I didn’t fully understand the reason behind the event. I wanted to read Columbine, to increase my understanding.

    b. Do you relate to the characters in the book? Why or why not?
    Thankfully, I do not relate to any of the characters in the book. The experiences and emotions that the students, staff and members the community went through after the Columbine shooting should have NEVER happened or been felt. Who would have ever guessed that two students who seemed normal were mentally unsound, and took extreme measures to control their emotion, while in the process killing innocent people, and terrorizing the world.

    c. Do you think this book was worthy of being on this year’s Abe list? Why or why not?
    I believe that this book deserves to be on this year’s Abe list because it gives a very descriptive, compelling and emotional portrayal of the events that played out April 20, 1999. All people of any age should be aware of the seriousness of school shootings and should always be aware of the behavior and feelings of their fellow classmates. Sometimes being alert and caring for someone can make all the difference in their life and yours. A tragedy could happen at any time or place and you will never know the difference one person can make in another persons life.

    d. Did you like the book? Why or why not?
    I enjoyed reading the book, Columbine because I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the worst school shooting in America’s history. Dave Cullen, spent 10 years writing this book and it is evident. The amount of information and the in depth analysis of certain situations gives the reader the feeling that they are experiencing the events firsthand. I highly recommend Columbine.

  38. Forrester Evertsen/ Saunders/ period 2 says:

    *Did you like the book?
    I thought the book went into so much depth that it felt like I was there; the details on every person and their actions made it seem like I was a bystander watching from afar. It made me think about the teenage mind and how fragile it is in those early years of its life. Both Eric and Dylan had troubles growing up and it was sad to see it come down to the killing of many people. It is an important book that everyone should read, in order to learn and prevent history from repeating itself.

  39. Nicky Relias/ Saunders 1 says:

    3. After reading Columbine, I believe it is worthy of being on the Abe list. First, the book contained a powerful message. Do not judge a book by its cover. Eric and Dylan were extremely misunderstood. For example, Dylan was an emotional wreck not a crazy killer. Next, the book cleared out all of the myths regarding the shooting. Without it, the truth would still be lost. And so, Columbine was undoubtedly worthy of the Abe list.

    4. Although the book was very sad and scary, I did like it. The reason why I was sold on the book was the author, David Cullen, wrote without bias interpretation. His level headed thinking allowed the truth to finally come out. Also, I liked it because I felt I could connect to the school of Columbine. Just like Hinsdale Central, it is a regular public school with normal high school teens. It made me think of how fortunate I was that it wasn’t my school because it very easily could have been. In all, I liked the book.

    • Ian Rusthoven-Saunders p.2 says:

      After reading the book Columbine, i think it was worthy of being on the Abe list. I think if it wasn’t on the Abe list, i believe that we would not understand the problems that the problems that the assailants were going through. The book did a really good job in going in depth in all of the characters which helped explain why the killers did what they did. If we weren’t able to read this a lot of the truth would still be uncovered still leaving there actions a mystery.

      I did like reading the book Columbine. Before reading the book i didn’t know much about the massacre and just thought some crazy kids shot up their school. This book helped me understand the problems that they were going through. The ten years it took to write this book really showed me the depth Cullen went to, to explain that the kids were just normal teenagers like you and i and they just were facing problems like any other teenager in High school.

  40. Ernest Battaglia-Saunders p.1 says:

    After reading the book Columbine, it should be definately be on the Abe list. Columbine really captured how the students and the teachers of the schools were thinking and what they were actually feeling when the actual shooting occured. Also, Dave Cullen really showed how Eric and Dylan weren’t getting picked on in school but, they were actually actually successful and intelligent students.
    I really enjoyed reading the book Columbine. Before the book came out, I really only knew bits and peices of the actual shooting at Columbine. But after reading the book, I understood the shooting better. It helped me understand what was actually Eric and Dylan like before the shooting and how they were good students. Lastly, I really enjoyed how there were some other perspectives of the shooting of the students and teachers emotions that were inside the school.

  41. Leo Witz Saunders period 2 says:

    I believe that after reading the book Columbine it was a fantastic book and definatly deserved to be on the abe list. This book went into so much depth, which in some cases that can be bad but the author certainly pulled it off i dont no how he got all the information he did about the two boys and everything that happened on or around that day. i personally hate reading, period, but this book really made me want to read more and more all the way to the point i was finished with it. i loved the book Columbine and definatly believe it deserved to be on the abe list because everyone that i know would love it as well.

  42. Lexi Fell says:

    1) I choose to read this book because i used to live in colorado and was around that area when this event happened. Since i was so young at the time, i don’t recall much, since now i am much older i was interested to read about what really happened on the day of the Columbine shooting.

    2) I can not relate to any characters in this book besides the fact that i was in the general area in colorado when this happened.

    3) This book definatly deserves to be on the abe list without a doubt. This book is amazing and very well written. It feels as if you were there when it happened. The author did such a good job with getting all the information. This book couldn’t have been written any better. I feel like it is very important for people to know exactly what happened on the day of Columbine and the book does a great job of explaining just that.

    4) This book was a hard read just people the story of Columbine itself is just so awful and sad. I did enjoy reading it however. It was very good and very well put together. This book really helped me understand what exactly happened that day. Columbine made me every grateful for what I have now and makes me love where I live today, being in the town that I am in.

  43. George Tolbert-Saunders p.1 says:

    I think this book does deserve to be on the Abe list because it really tells the truth behind what really happened at Columbine and puts the lies about Columbine to rest. The book did a really good job in showing the gradual steps up until Eric and Dylan began to kill their fellow students. If it wasn’t for this book i don’t think we would ever fully understand what happened that day and why the killers came to the conclusion that killing their fellow students was the right one.

    I did like reading the book because of the depth Dave Cullen went to in getting the truth before writing the book. I always thought what the media told the public about the shooting was true and didn’t have any idea of what really happened. Dave Cullen really brought the truth out about what happened out by going into such depth about the killers feelings and intensions.

  44. Jake B-Dean says:

    This book definitely should be on the Abe list because it is a very intriguing book and contains a unique story. The book offers a different perspective of the two shouters in the Columbine shooting, the perspective is one that many people would not have seen unless reading this book. The author went through a great deal of searching to find all the information and it most definitely deserves the Abe List.

    I did and I did not like this book. I say this because I thought the book was very interesting and showed a lot of reasoning for Eric and Dylan’s actions. I thought that some of these actions were disturbing and gruesome. On the other hand I liked this book because of what it had to offer, it was more than just the quick news story telling you that there had been a shooting. This book went “behind the scenes,” and came out with a boat load of information. The book Columbine was a great, yet disturbing book and I did and did not like it.

  45. Forrester Evertsen/Saunders/Period 2 says:

    I believe that Columbine deserved to be on the list of Abe awarded books for 2011, because of its significance in our history; the event at columbine, in 1999, shocked the world, because of the disbelief that teenagers could commit such a crime. As a result, a nation-wide reform of dealing with bullying and taking precautions for student safety began. The interviews and information that Dave Cullen has accumulated in this account of the Columbine incident is a great informer of what did happen and didn’t happen; it opens the reader’s eyes to the true nature of the killers and what they were like. All in all, the story of Columbine is one that everyone should be familiar with, in order to prevent history from repeating itself.

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