Ten years after the Columbine High School shooting, journalist Dave Cullen has written a comprehensive account of what happened that day, the aftermath, and, perhaps most telling, the events leading up to April 20, 1999.
This is not a sensational look at the tragedy - there are no gory photographs or descriptions. Nor is it an inspirational telling meant to memorialize the event, but is instead a journalistic look at what happened based on the basement tapes and journals created by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, police evidence, and interviews with eyewitnesses.
Cullen's account debunks some popular myths of the event and looks at how the media perpetuated these myths in an effort to produce a simple "answer" to why this happened. The books follows the families through the years to see the long-lasting effects and how they coped. It also analyzes how this tragedy affected the nation and how we deal with school shootings now.
What I liked best is that Cullen's account is a sympathetic but unsentimental view of the tragedy. I think it's an excellent example of good journalism which reads as well as some of the best fiction. What surprised me the most in reading it was how much sympathy I felt for the parents of Eric and Dylan. My only disappointment was that Cullen placed most of the blame on Eric, so much so that Dlyan seems almost absolved of responsibility.
Obviously, it's not a cheerful book to read, but now that the reports and evidence have been released to the public (except for some pages the police "accidentally" destroyed that detailed what they knew about Eric Harris before the shooting) the book is able to provide context to the tragedy.
Columbine is available at the Indianola Public Library in the nonfiction shelves under the number 371.782 Cul.