I picked up this book on the bargain rack at Barnes and Noble for five bucks. I would have paid twenty. This book is fantastic. I haven't read Helter Skelter (The book that delves into Charles Manson's psyche) but the back flap of Columbine compares the two, and I'm guessing that's a comparison that hits right on the nose. Columbine is chilling. Columbine is often tough to read. It's gripping, and you'll stay up late, wanting to read 'just one more chapter'.
First off, if you haven't ever done your own research into the massacre, especially recently, everything you probabaly think about what happened is wrong. The two killers weren't no friend losers, they weren't in the Trenchcoat Mafia (A real club of sots at their school.) There wasn't a girl named Cassie who confessed her belief in God only to be shot in the head and killed. The revelations come early and often, and I found myself eager to learn the truth. The mismanagement of the local police force of the case in the years beyond the shootings (and even a year or two before. Columbine could have been prevented.) will make you almost as sick as the killings themselves. Some people come off extremely bad in this book, beyond Eric and Dylan. In fact, if you feel a twinge of pity for Dylan, I wouldn't be surprised. Eric was a mad man, a casebook psychopath with no remorse. Dylan it turns out was never fully behind the idea until the very end, thinking of NBK (the name the killers gave their massacre, short hand for Natural Born Killers) as nothing more than a fantasy. A deranged fantasy that offered a little solace to a manic depressive boy determined to kill himself before April 19th. (April 19th was the day they planned to carry out NBK. It happened a day later, due to ammo shortages).
Dave Cullen is a journalist who has followed the case since the very beginning, and is considered the leading expert on the matter. He's read the journals, seen the tapes, interviewed the survivors, and presents what I imagine to be the absolute closest thing to the truth one could ever get about Columbine without being able to go back in time and read the killers minds. The book hops about in time, getting to the massacre petty early, then filling in back story, from a year or two before, to the decade after. You meet some of those killed, and some of those inured. You see the rage that develops one boys father and how it effects him ten years later. You watch as a boy thought to be so broken as to never walk again fight to do just that. It's a year long battle to get by without a wheelchair, crutches, even a cane.
This book is fantastic. I'm guessing a lot of people were like me, and honestly haven't thought about Columbine in a long, long time. Maybe it's time to think about it, one last time, with the help of this book.
Columbine - A+