"Columbine"

I just finished reading this book last night. The main arc of the book is that it covers the Columbine incident years after it happened, and it uncovers a number of initial false claims and assumptions about the killers and those involved. For example, Eric and Dylan intended to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of students and faculty members with propane bombs but the timers didn't work. Also, the martyer story with Cassie was did not occur - Eric shot her in the head under the table she was using to hide from the killers and neither killer asked her anything about her faith...or anything else for that matter. Furthermore, trying to pigeon-hole the killers as "goth" or part of a "trench-coat mafia" or having a specific list (or lists) of people to get back at (e.g. jocks that picked on them) were pretty much false or very misunderstood. Eric was probably a pyschopath in the clinical definition of the term, and as one investigator put it, it takes heat and cold to make a tornado (Dylan was the "cold" - he was very depressed, which was turned into anger via his friendship with Eric).

This is truly a fascinating book. I remember the incident but it didn't stick in my mind that much as compared to events like the Challenger explosion or 9/11. I do remember tales of "bullying" and "satan worship" and wondering...is this really what pushed these kids over the edge? Turns out, no. Eric has no empathy for anyone. In the movie "The Dark Kinght" the Joker is described as someone who just wants to watch the world burn - I think that fits Eric's mindset very well. He just wanted to kill; it had nothing to do with intimidation or the clothes he wore or the books he read. Dylan seemed like he was along for the ride, more or less. What was also very disturbing to read was the fact that the local police department had detailed information on Eric (in terms of his web site that had numerous rants based on killing and pipe bomb creation) months before the Columbine incident occurred and that they suppressed this information from anyone for months and months after the shootings. This book is a strong warning for anyone to remember that trying to figure out why people do what they do is not always easy and takes times to come up with correct conclusions. The media was too hyped up on coming up with storylines and unfortunately those initial ideas are what stuck in the general population's minds. The real story is far different (and much more disturbing). The author's storytelling tactics take a bit to get used to as he jumps around chronologically but the more I read the more I started to enjoy that approach. It slowly introduced key players in the story and helped me get a better picture of the entire event.

I highly recommend reading this book. What I thought I knew about Columbine was cloudy at best, and this book proves it.

* Posted at 08.18.2009 10:58:46 AM CST | Link *

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