Saturday, September 12, 2009
Columbine by Dave Cullen
Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters to arrive at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, the day Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire on fellow students and their teachers. He has spent the last ten years researching the infamous Columbine shooting to create the first complete account, Columbine, which is available at the library.
Cullen’s intentions in writing this book were to dispel myths propagated by the media after this tragedy occurred. A number of stereotypes, such as the “Trench Coat Mafia” and Goths shooting jocks, were circulated by the media, including Cullen. As an act of apology and from a desire to report the facts, Cullen poured over hundreds of interviews, investigative files, FBI psychologists, and evidence left by the shooters to recreate the series of events that led to Klebold and Harris’ decision to launch an attack on their school. Cullen depicts a very different picture than that portrayed by the media. These boys weren’t outcasts ridiculed at school. In fact, Harris was relatively popular and noted for his charm. Both boys desired to go to their high prom, and Klebold regularly wrote about love in his journal. This tragedy is no longer based on stereotypes, and the media-inspired caricature has been torn away to reveal the killers’ thoughts and motivations.
Although this blog primarily features Young Adult fiction, there is relevance in featuring Columbine, which is a non-fiction book. Cullen’s determination to demonstrate the complexity and depth of the Columbine shooting warrants examination by both teens and adults. The author delivers an important message to be critical of the media and the news they report. As well, Cullen reminds us those tragedies such as Columbine are often more complex than what is reported. As teens (and adults) it is important to remember life and the choices we make are more complicated than where you fit in within the high school ranks.