Columbine

By Dave Cullen
Binding:Hardcover
Publisher:Twelve, (4/6/2009)
Language:English



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Dave Cullen, the acclaimed journalist who followed the Columbine massacre from day one reconstructs, with unrivaled care and insight, the psychological journey of two teenage boys who became killers.
 
 

"Columbine"
By Dave Cullen

Average Rating:

This book has not been rated


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 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.
 
 

1. Do you remember where you were on April 20, 1999? How did you hear about the Columbine massacre? What were your initial thoughts?

2. Some readers have referred to Columbine as a “non-fiction novel.” Do you think this description fits?

3. How does the author build and maintain suspense and mystery in the book? How does he deal with the fact that readers may know – or think they know –the outcomes or details of the book’s events?

4. What do you make of the relationship between Eric and Dylan? Did this relationship remain consistent throughout the book? If there were shifts in their roles, can you pinpoint when and why this happened?

5. Why is it important that books like Columbine be written and read? Who should read this book?

6. Do you think this book glorifies Eric and Dylan and perpetuates the legend that they wanted to leave behind?

7. As you read the book, what surprises did you encounter? Why do you think you hadn’t known about them before?

8. What if you were able to meet the killers’ parents. What would you want them to know? What if you could meet another character in the book. Who would you want to meet and what would you say to them?

9. Which, if any, of the book’s characters do you consider to be heroes? Which were scapegoats? Were there more than two people responsible for the killings?

10. Which characters had reason to feel guilty? Who do you think still feels guilty now?

11. Do any of the characters change or evolve through the course of the story? Do they change their view of the world and their relationship to it? If so, what events trigger such changes?

12. Compare In Cold Blood’s Dick and Perry to Columbine’s Eric and Dylan. What similarities and differences do you find? How did Capote and Cullen’s approaches to researching and telling their stories differ?

13. Was there anything unique about the setting of the book? Did it enhance the story? How do Columbine High School and the community of Littleton compare with your own school and community? How likely is it that a similar event could happen where you are?

14. Which passages were most difficult for you to read? Which scenes are most memorable for you?

15. At what point in the book did you decide if you liked it or not? What helped you make this decision? What kind of impact did this book have on you?

16. Were you surprised by any of the revelations about the attack? Which ones? Were you surprised by the community reaction in the aftermath? How do you think your community would react after such an event?

17. At what point in the narrative could one decision or one action have changed the outcome? Which characters had a chance to make a difference but didn’t?

18. With school shootings being featured regularly and predominately in the media for over a decade, does the public react differently to them now? Do students react differently? School personnel? Law enforcement? The press?

19. Has this book changed how you would relate to your teen children or to teens that you have a close relationship with?

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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this remarkable account of the April 20, 1999, Columbine High School shooting, journalist Cullen not only dispels several of the prevailing myths about the event but tackles the hardest question of all: why did it happen? Drawing on extensive interviews, police reports and his own reporting, Cullen meticulously pieces together what happened when 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 13 people before turning their guns on themselves. The media spin was that specific students, namely jocks, were targeted and that Dylan and Eric were members of the Trench Coat Mafia. According to Cullen, they lived apparently normal lives, but under the surface lay an angry, erratic depressive (Klebold) and a sadistic psychopath (Harris), together forming a combustible pair. They planned the massacre for a year, outlining their intentions for massive carnage in extensive journals and video diaries. Cullen expertly balances the psychological analysis—enhanced by several of the nation's leading experts on psychopathology—with an examination of the shooting's effects on survivors, victims' families and the Columbine community. Readers will come away from Cullen's unflinching account with a deeper understanding of what drove these boys to kill, even if the answers aren't easy to stomach. (Apr. 6) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

Review
"In this remarkable account of the April 20, 1999, Columbine High School shooting, journalist Cullen not only dispels several of the prevailing myths about the event but tackles the hardest question of all: why did it happen? Drawing on extensive interviews, police reports and his own reporting, Cullen meticulously pieces together what happened when 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 13 people before turning their guns on themselves.... Cullen expertly balances the psychological analysis-enhanced by several of the nation's leading experts on psychopathology-with an examination of the shooting's effects on survivors, victims' families and the Columbine community. Readers will come away from Cullen's unflinching account with a deeper understanding of what drove these boys to kill, even if the answers aren't easy to stomach." (Publishers Weekly, Starred Reivew )

"Dave Cullen is the Dante of this high school hell. I came away from it thinking of Jack Nicholson hollering 'You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!' Read this quietly powerful account of Columbine and find out if you can." (Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars )

"Half the anguish of Columbine is our mystification. How did those boys get so twisted, so murderous? Now, after nine years of great reporting, Dave Cullen has done the impossible: you will know these killers -- and it will shake you up. This is a big-time work that will endure."

(Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio and What It Takes )

"Salon magazine's Dave Cullen... has been on top of the Columbine story from the start." (The New York Times Frank Rich ) 
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Dave Cullen is a journalist and author who has contributed to Slate, Salon, and the New York Times. He is considered the nation's foremost authority on the Columbine killers, and has also written extensively on Evangelical Christians, gays in the military, politics, and pop culture. A graduate of the MFA program at the University of Boulder, Cullen has won several writing awards, including a GLAAD Media Award, Society of Professional Journalism awards, and several Best of Salon citations.


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