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Revue de presse

"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

"Comprehensive...It's a book that hits you like a crime scene photo, a reminder of what journalism at its best is all about. Cullen knows his material from the inside; he covered Columbine, for Salon and Slate primarily, 'beginning around noon on the day of the attack.' But if this gives him a certain purchase on the story, his perspective is what resonates."―LA Times

"Cullen's book is a nerve-wracking, methodical and panoramic account...COLUMBINE has its terrifying sections, particularly during Cullen's minute-by-minute rendering of the chaotic 49-minute assault. He puts us inside and outside the building, and he captures the disbelief viewers experienced in 'almost witnessing mass murder' live on television."―Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A chilling page-turner, a striking accomplishment given that Cullen's likely readers almost certainly know how the tragic story ends...I knew Cullen was a dogged reporter and a terrific writer, but even I was blown away by the pacing and story-telling he mastered in Columbine, a disturbing, inspiring work of art."―Salon

"Comprehensively nightmarish . . . Cullen's task is difficult not only because the events in question are almost literally unspeakable but also because even as he tells the story of a massacre that took the lives of 15 people, including the killers, he has to untell the stories that have already been told . . . Should this story be told at all? There's an element of sick, voyeuristic fascination to it--we don't need an exercise in disaster porn. But Columbine is a necessary book. . . . The actual events of April 20, 1999, are exactly as appalling as you'd expect, and Cullen doesn't spare us a second of them."―Time

"The definitive account, [of the tragedy] will likely be Dave Cullen's COLUMBINE, a nonfiction book that has the pacing of an action movie and the complexity of a Shakespearean drama . . . Cullen has a gift, if that's the right word, for excruciating detail. At times the language is so vivid you can almost smell the gunpowder and the fear."―Newsweek

"COLUMBINE is an excellent work of media criticism, showing how legends become truths through continual citation; a sensitive guide to the patterns of public grief, foreshadowing many of the reactions to Sept. 11 (lawsuits, arguments about the memorial, voyeuristic bus tours); and, at the end of the day, a fine example of old fashioned journalism . . . moving things along with agility and grace."―Jennifer Senior, The New York Times Review of Books

While the details of the day are indeed gruesome, Cullen neither embellishes nor sensationalizes. His unadorned prose and staccato sections offer welcome relief from the grisly minutiae... Cullen's honor and reporting skills propel this book beyond tabloid and into true literature."―Newsday

"A gripping study . . . To his credit, Mr. Cullen does not simply tear down Columbine's legends. He also convincingly explains what really sparked the murderous rage . . . disquieting . . . beautifully written."―The New York Observer

From the very first page, I could not put COLUMBINE Dave Cullen's searing narrative, down. Dylan ... How the killings unfolded, and why, reads like the grisliest of fiction. Would that it were not true. Grade: A"―Entertainment Weekly

"A remarkable book. It is painstakingly reported, well-organized and compellingly written . . . For any reader who wants to understand the complicated nature of evil, this book is a masterpiece."―The Seattle Times

"Leveraged for political ends by Michael Moore on film and adopted for convenience by the news media as shorthand for teenage violence, Columbine has begun to feel as impenetrable and allegorical as Greek myth. So the intensive reporting of Denver-based journalist Dave Cullen is welcome. . . Cullen creates more than a nuanced portrait of school shooters as young men. He writes a human story - a compassionate narrative of teenagers with guns (and bombs, too), and the havoc they wreak on a school, a community, and America.―Esquire

"Exhaustive and supremely level-headed . . . The ways in which the Columbine story became distorted in the retelling make for one of the most fascinating aspects of Cullen's book . . . Hopping back and forth in time, Cullen manages to tell this complicated story with remarkable clarity and coherence. As one of the first reporters on the scene in 1999, he has been studying this event firsthand for a decade, and his book exudes a sense of authority missing from much of the original media coverage. ...Cullen strikes just the right tone of tough-minded compassion, for the most part steering clear of melodrama, sermonizing and easy answers."―Gary Krist, Washington Post

COLUMBINE is a remarkable achievement. Cullen has brought illumination to a dark and difficult topic, and the result is an example of literary nonfiction at its finest: masterful, clear-eyed, bold - and unforgettable."―Charlotte Observer

Présentation de l'éditeur

On April 20, 1999, two boys left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their goal was simple: to blow up their school, Oklahoma-City style, and to leave "a lasting impression on the world." Their bombs failed, but the ensuing shooting defined a new era of school violence-irrevocably branding every subsequent shooting "another Columbine."

When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; we think of Cassie Bernall, the girl we thought professed her faith before she was shot; and we think of the boy pulling himself out of a school window -- the whole world was watching him. Now, in a riveting piece of journalism nearly ten years in the making, comes the story none of us knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen has delivered a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. He lays bare the callous brutality of mastermind Eric Harris, and the quavering, suicidal Dylan Klebold, who went to prom three days earlier and obsessed about love in his journal.

The result is an astonishing account of two good students with lots of friends, who came to stockpile a basement cache of weapons, to record their raging hatred, and to manipulate every adult who got in their way. They left signs everywhere, described by Cullen with a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, thousands of pages of police files, FBI psychologists, and the boy's tapes and diaries, he gives the first complete account of the Columbine tragedy.

In the tradition of HELTER SKELTER and IN COLD BLOOD, COLUMBINE is destined to be a classic. A close-up portrait of hatred, a community rendered helpless, and the police blunders and cover-ups, it is a compelling and utterly human portrait of two killers-an unforgettable cautionary tale for our times.

Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 432 pages
  • Editeur : Twelve (6 avril 2009)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0446546933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446546935
  • Dimensions du produit: 16,5 x 3,4 x 23,5 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Gwen 1ER COMMENTATEUR DU HALL D'HONNEURTOP 10 COMMENTATEURS le 26 mai 2009
Format: Broché
Bien des livres ont déjà été écrits sur la tragédie de Columbine au cours de laquelle deux adolescents, Eric Haris et Dylan Klebold, armés de pistolets et de carabines, se livrèrent à un carnage en règle dans leur lycée en 1999. Pourquoi ce drame exerce-t-il une telle fascination dans la conscience collective américaine? s'interroge ce nouvel ouvrage. Ce "campus shooting", après tout, si affreux soit-il, n'était pas le premier du genre et d'autres fusillades sont survenues depuis, encore plus meurtrières, sans pour autant éclipser le nom de Columbine. Ce qui donne à ce massacre toute sa spécificité, c'est sans doute qu'il résulte de ce que les psychiatres anglo-saxons appellent, d'une expression bien française, la "folie à deux". En effet, qu'un adolescent perturbé "pète les plombs" et soit pris d'une crise de rage allant jusqu'au meurtre, c'est évidemment abominable mais pas inconcevable. En revanche, que deux garçons préméditent froidement et commettent de concert pareille atrocité, voilà qui nous interpelle tous. D'autant plus que Dave Cullen fait ici voler en éclats la théorie selon laquelle Harris était un véritable psychopathe et Klebold un simple teenager suicidaire et influençable qui serait tombé dans son orbite. De même qu'il réfute l'idée que les deux meurtriers se soient embarqués dans leur tuerie avec en ligne de mire des "cibles" précises.Lire la suite ›
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Par Gilbert Beaume le 8 juin 2014
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Excellent livre, exploration en profondeur, avec le recul nécessaire et une foule de détails qui décrivent la démarche des auteurs et celles des enquêteurs... Ainsi que l'analyse critique du comportement des médias et des commentateurs, notamment religieux qui ont offert des réponses trop rapides, trop orientées!
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564 internautes sur 609 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A tender yet unflinching treatment of a chilling tragedy. 30 mars 2009
Par Hugh C. Howey - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Ten years have passed since the tragic event that has become synonymous with school shootings. Columbine was once a word that simply denoted a high school, a football team or a state flower. But now the word is tainted. Despite the fact that we have moved on to newer tragedies with higher body-counts, the stain has not been scrubbed off of the word `Columbine'. But perhaps we need to do something other than wish it away. A better solution might be a deeper understanding of Columbine and similar events. The What, How and Why. Most of our answers to these simple questions have been dead-wrong and it is time to replace myth with truth.

But this is easier said than done. The Columbine shootings remain one of the most-thoroughly covered crimes in American history. However, despite the voluminous output of media coverage, what really happened that day, and the motivation behind the tragedy, is understood by very few people. The result of our curiosity led to more falsehoods than fact, making a clear picture of the events on and leading up to April 20th, 1999 difficult to discern. In many ways the vast outpouring of information makes this tragedy even harder to grasp; the chaff vastly outweighs the wheat.

Which makes Dave Cullen's new book, Columbine, an accomplishment that catapults him to the top of the genre. Not since Capote's In Cold Blood do we find such a thoughtful, illuminating, riveting, and disturbing portrait of the criminal mind. Columbine doesn't just explode the myths of what happened that day and why. Instead the book carefully dissects our biases, revealing a populace eager to blame this tragedy on poor parenting, Satan, rock music, or goth kids because it is simpler and more convenient than hearing the truth.

And the truth is that Eric Harris was a born psychopath and Dylan Klebold was clinically depressed, eager to please, and clawing for an escape hatch. Together they formed a rare and volatile combination known as a criminal dyad, a coupling of an egomaniacal control freak and a doting, depressed side-kick. Like Bonnie and Clyde and the D.C. snipers, the duo had a push-me pull-me effect that spun both kids out of control and down a dangerous path that now seems well-worn and obvious as we trace it back.

Cullen's coverage of the tragedy is remarkably broad and deep for a book that doesn't even run 400 pages. The entire scope of the Columbine shootings are covered with almost no wasted space. The book is agonizingly well-researched and brilliantly end-noted. Cullen was one of the Colorado journalists covering the event as it was happening, and has been following the aftermath for the past ten years. He has become one of the most informed minds to wrestle with the shooting, and one of the few to draw the right conclusions.

The layout and pacing in Columbine is also ingenious. Instead of pretending that this was a tidy moment in history that can be covered from beginning to end, Cullen pays homage to the frustrating way that details coalesced into a final picture. Jumping back and forth from Eric and Dylan's lives before the event to the tragic consequences that reverberated after, Cullen gradually paints a full portrait of the two men in much the way that they revealed themselves to investigators. There is no pretension here that this is a subject with an easy beginning, middle, and end. Any other method of relating this story would not do the popular confusion justice, nor would it result in such a vivid understanding of what these two boys were like, and what damage they wreaked on their community.

Another impressive touch is the complete lack of images presented in the book. The center clump of photographs, a mainstay of good non-fiction, is conspicuously absent. You will not find a single picture of the killers nor their victims. It took some time for me to appreciate this classy move by the author and publishers. There is no sensationalism here. This is an outstanding work of journalism that is not only the authoritative account of what happened at Columbine high school, it is also a glimpse of criminal psychosis that I believe will be held up as a classic in years to come. This isn't just a good book, it is an important book. It is not just about the past, and not just about this one event, it is about a sad fact of the human condition, and a call for forward-looking vigilance, not backwards-glaring vengeance.

What most impressed me about Cullen's conclusions was his shucking off of the dangerous blank slate theory that causes so much societal grief. To this day most people blame poor parenting on the tragedy of Columbine. The sadness and horror that I feel when thinking about the treatment of Eric and Dylan's parents disgusts me. This injustice is fueled by the poor grasp that the vast majority of people have about human nature. It is a failing that causes harm in thousands of daily ways, and Cullen does his part in dispelling some of these myths. Some people are born with an inability to empathize with the feelings of others. And of these, some have an uncanny ability to blend in, conning the rest of us into thinking that they are normal. They are the stereotypical serial killers, described by friends and neighbors as the "nicest boy". And our failure to grasp the innate nature of these members of society makes us even more likely to be duped by them.

One of the other fascinating threads in Columbine is the unreliability of eyewitness accounts and the way that early mistakes were not corrected with the passage of time, but rather hardened, becoming cemented in Columbine lore. The Trench Coat Mafia and a massive conspiracy involving many other participants led many people astray, including investigators. The idea that these were unpopular geeks who were picked on by bullies led to a national campaign against something that played no role in the tragedy. Eric and Dylan more often played the role of bully than they did bullied. And implications that music, movies, goth lifestyle, Hitler, or videogames inspired their actions are as false as Michael Moore's assertions that they bowled on the day of the shooting.

Columbine replaces these falsehoods with an account of two kids that simply hated the world and its occupants. Everyone was beneath them. These were not kids cast out by society; they were misfits by choice. They fled the robots/zombies/sheep with eagerness and disdain. They celebrated the fact that they did not belong. Nobody pushed them away or ridiculed them, in fact they were just as popular in their own clique as any other kid, and just as invisible to most kids as we all were to people outside of our social circle. The kids who were not respected were Eric and Dylan's peers. The duo were able to look down on them from such a height of hubris as to be able to dehumanize them. Making them something outside of their scope of empathy. Easy enough to dispatch.

In this way, Marilyn Manson got it just as wrong as anyone else. When asked what he would have said to the kids in Moore's film Bowling for Columbine, Manson replied, "I wouldn't say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did." This notion that the boys were raging against a world that would not take them seriously is also debunked. The sad fact is that psychopaths are born with measurable differences in how their brains work. We can point to these peculiarities on a brain scan. And the differences are noted extremely early in a child's development. The idea that more compassion would prevent these tragedies is the claim that gasoline will extinguish a fire. These kids thrived on winning people over, which they did with ease.

Possibly the most shocking myth stripped down in the book is that this was a school shooting by design. The event became the poster for gun restrictions, which may be a noble cause, but it misses the intentions that Eric and Dylan had that day. By all accounts, the attack was a dismal failure. The massive bombs that they rigged up did not go off as planned. They had a low body count estimate in the hundreds, but hoped for thousands. They wanted to start a worldwide revolution. And they hoped they could do this all without devastating their parents. In every possible way, these boys failed. They failed their society, their peers, their parents, and thank goodness, they failed themselves.

These failures continue to cast ripples today. Cullen devotes a good chuck of his book to the horrible aftermath of these events. An investigation that became disgustingly political included cover-ups and foot-dragging. There were copycats, pranks and bomb-threats. Survivors went through physical and emotional re-hab. Some people tried to profit from the shooting. The school had to be rebuilt, along with the student body and the surrounding community. Some relationships were bonded for eternity, and some shattered. Depression and post-traumatic-stress were prevalent and devastating. Lawsuits were filed. The entire town seemed to be cursed, with normal bad luck ascribed to the ghost of Columbine. Cullen captures all of this with stunning detail and respectfulness. There is no stone that he does not peek under, describe, and then return with loving care. That he pulled this balancing act off for the entire book, detailing an event with so many scars and controversy, is absolutely stunning.

The end result is a book that should be required reading for every teacher, guidance counselor, clinical psychologist and parent. Columbine unmasks universal and innate tendencies that a small portion of our population harbors. And what makes this minority dangerous is that they have no empathy for the rest of us, and a genius for hiding this flaw. The signs of their disease are usually there, but they are murky due to our faith in nurture conquering nature.

Columbine is not just an account of an American tragedy, it is a guide for preventing future ones. We must begin by accepting that much of who we are is the dumb luck of genetics, but that this does not exculpate our actions. Sure, we can dream up more pleasant realities for us to operate within, where free will plays a larger role, and loving someone enough will make everything all right, but fantasy is never a solution for improving our existence. It is just the comforting blanket we tragically suffocate ourselves with.
310 internautes sur 335 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Beware of Reviewers with Murky Agendas 17 août 2009
Par Naomi Dathan - Publié sur
Format: Relié
To rate five stars, a book should be memorable, thoroughly researched, and well-written. The reader should be absorbed into the book to the point that he/she and the author have a "shared experience" and the reader should be changed in some way by that experience.

Dave Cullin succeeds on all counts. Columbine is a riveting narrative. He addresses many myths that the press created in the first moments after the tragedy and that most of us still believe. He also defends his premise -- that Eric Harris wasn't bullied, but a bully and a psychopath -- very well with ample substantiation. I recommend this book.

Now, a caution:

As of this writing there are 11 1-star and 12 2-star reviews of this book. Nearly all of these are written by reviewers who object not to the work itself, but to Mr. Cullin's premise. They are angered by the suggestion that the two boys weren't victims of bullying, or that their parents weren't to blame (although they made their mistakes as we all do), or that the school couldn't have anticipated the attack. These aren't legitimate reviews of the book. If an author presents a well-substantiated argument, he deserves credit for writing a good book, even if you don't agree with his conclusions.

The dialogue throughout the reviews (both reviews and responsive comments) is badly compromised by writers with their own agendas -- including authors of competing books. Be aware that the reviewer and commenter, Randy Brown who identifies himself as "A Columbine Parent" (creating legitimacy) generally fails to mention that his son Brooks wrote a book on the matter as well. Mr. Brown's comments are as welcome as anyone's, but by failing to mention this conflict of interest, he is misleading readers. Mr. Brown's agenda is to promote the "stop school bullying" agenda, by insisting that Eric's attack was the result of school bullying. A noble cause, but confusing, considering Eric bullied Brooks for years, to the point that the Brown family called the police many times.
227 internautes sur 251 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Not just a shot-by-shot account --- a disturbing portrait of some seemingly 'normal' killers 30 mars 2009
Par Jesse Kornbluth - Publié sur
Format: Relié
If "Columbine" were just a shot-by-shot account of the mass murder at a Colorado high school, this book wouldn't be worth a minute of your time. Anyone who was alive in America on April 20, 1999 knows how Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 12 students and a teacher, wounded 23 others, and then put their rifles to their heads and killed themselves. We've all heard the story of the girl who --- seconds before she was shot --- looked the killers in the eye and told them she believed in God. We've heard about the "Trench Coat Mafia" and the violent video games. And we've heard that Harris and Klebold were social outcasts who, angered by incessant bullying, decided to get even by staging the biggest massacre ever at an American high school.

Why "Columbine" is worth the pain and tears it will cost you to read it: Most of what you've heard is wrong. If Dave Cullen is even remotely correct, Cassie Bernall was not killed because she told Harris or Klebold she believed in God. Harris and Klebold weren't outcasts. They weren't bullied, they didn't target jocks. And they weren't addicted to violent video games.

What motivated them?

For Eric Harris, raw hatred. A desire to kill as many people as possible --- to end the world, if he could.

For Dylan Klebold, the hunger for love. And when he couldn't find it, an all-consuming desire to kill himself.

If that's the case, then the nationwide reaction to the Columbine massacre has given us no reason to feel secure --- metal detectors and guards can't tell the difference between a kid with a bit of teenage attitude and the grinning psychopath with raging violence in his heart.

For Cullen --- a Colorado reporter who got on the story early, fell for most of the false conclusions and then spent ten years investigating the teen killers --- Columbine is the story of that psychopath, his confused sidekick, their clueless families and a local police force that was fooled by a couple of kids.

In short, "Columbine" presents a much more frightening story than the one you know.

Did you know that the massacre was just a few days after the school prom? That's where the book starts --- with Eric Harris having trouble scrounging up a date. That was crazy. Eric was a mover: "He had made it to the homecoming dance as a freshman, and he had scored with a twenty-three-year-old at seventeen."

The one who should have had this trouble was Eric's best friend, Dylan Klebold, who was, says Cullen, "meek, self-conscious, and authentically shy." But Dylan had a date. Probably the first of his life.

We get to know these boys fast. Dylan, the secret drunk. Eric, seemingly obedient, but really a control freak. Both smart, "technology whizzes and technology hounds". Both smokers: Camels, filtered.

Another thing: Both "planned to be dead shortly after the weekend."

Their deaths were to be Act III of the massacre. In the first act, seven big bombs would kill hundreds inside the school. In the second act, as the building crumbled and students ran for safety, Eric and Dylan would use their semiautomatics to kill the survivors. Finally, in the third act, they'd drive their cars --- filled with propane tanks and jugs of gasoline --- toward the camera crews and first responders. And then they'd blow themselves up.

Estimated body count: "2,000 students, plus 150 faculty and staff, plus who knows how many police, paramedics and journalists."

Who dreams up a plan like that? Who spends more than a year planning it? And who, when the plan doesn't work, settles for killing as many as possible before blowing their brains out?

Crazy kids. If you're charitable, vote for "sick". If not, call them "evil". But if Cullen is right, don't call them "tormented" or "misunderstood". Because they weren't. They gave away lots of clues. They got caught committing a serious crime. And they totally bamboozled their parents.

The book is built on the classical model. One chapter chronicles the massacre. The next tracks the lives of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, especially the final eighteen months of their lives. Both are horrifying, but it's the Eric-and-Dylan story --- the story you've probably never heard --- that should terrify you. Especially if you're a parent.

In the last few years of his life, Dylan Klebold pretty much gave up. His grades tanked. And yet smooth Eric was the one who seemed to be in serious trouble. His web site had ten pages of ranting. He threatened another kid so often the kid's parents made fifteen calls to the cops. And after Eric and Dylan were arrested for breaking into a van and stealing electronic equipment, it was Eric --- who had snowed his counselor --- who took the event as a signal to ratchet up his dreams of violence.

No writer has scored an interview with either set of parents, so we cannot really know how they were unaware of their kids sneaking out at night and buying guns and writing about killing in their journals. The opening line of Eric's? "I hate the world" --- it wasn't as if there was any murkiness about his feelings. Dylan? He just "craved death". Getting him to go along with the massacre plan wasn't a career effort for Eric.

And they fooled everybody.

That's the point Cullen keeps returning to. And me too. I can, dimly, grasp that a twisted kid might decide it's cool to shoot up a school --- this is a country with more guns than people and a body-count on TV shows, movies and games that makes real war look like peace. And I can, sadly, imagine how a kid who's racked with emotional pain might shove a shotgun barrel into his mouth. But what utterly stops me is the year before that: the constant lying, the double life.

We like to think that it takes years of training to become a successful double agent. But these were high school kids. And this was a good school. And they had, it seems, reasonably attentive parents.

In a recent interview, Dave Cullen looked back on Columbine and delivered this analysis:

"It could definitely happen anywhere.... I think there's one primary reason it happened here, and his name is Eric Harris. Eric's father was an Air Force officer who moved the family across five states in fifteen years. If he had settled in any of those other locations, something horrible would have happened there. If Eric had grown to adulthood, it could have been much worse. He was a budding young psychopath, who enjoyed inflicting pain. There are psychopaths in every city and small town. Most are nonviolent, and few are as diabolical as Eric Harris. When they are, watch out. There are plenty of despondent teens like Dylan Klebold for them to snare."

Read "Columbine" for the stunning reportage. Admire the heroism of students and teachers. Forgive, if you can, the police ineptitude and, later, their predictable cover-up. But pay particular attention to the back story: the evolution of two would-be mass murderers. And then, instead of feeling blessed that this nightmare didn't happen in your town, you might do better to ask yourself a variation of the line you hear on television at ten o'clock: Do you know who your children are?
42 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us 5 novembre 2009
Par CJA - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Cullen is a journalist who has followed the Columbine story for some time. This is a thoughtful book that attempts to debunk the instant myths that our culture inevitably creates to explain a tragedy like this. Cullen argues that the killers were not bullied outcasts who targeted specific victims; that one victim was not in fact shot in the face for telling the killers that she believed in God; and that the law enforcement personnel on the scene quickly realized that this was not a hostage negotiation scenario and moved to assault the killers, though the whole effort involved a great deal of wasted time. Cullen does believe that the biggest law enforcement failing was the cover up of a file that the County had on the killers, viz., complaints about threats of violence by one of them, that arguably should have resulted in aggressive action that may have preempted the whole tragedy. Hindsight being 20/20, I don't necessarily buy that argument, but any cover up is unpardonable.

Cullen's most important observation is that the killers planned an extermination of the entire school via incendiary bombs that never went off. Had they been triggered competently, a fire could have destroyed much of the School and the two killers (Eric and Dylan) were camped out to shoot those who fled the exits. They even booby trapped the parking lot to blow up rescuing forces. Had the plan worked, thousands would have died. Instead, they shot a number of students, killing 13, and then killed themselves.

The motive, Cullen argues, was that these two youths hated the high school, hated themselves, and hated the whole world. Bringing the high school down with them was, for them, bringing their whole little world down with them. There is some appeal to this explanation when we consider the profound and sometimes violent emotions of adolescence and the alienation, depression, rage, and anxiety that the high school environment can inspire. Dylan and Eric are compelling not because they are monsters, but because we share many of their experiences, rage, and anxieties -- but they, for some reason, were overcome with the rage and went all the way down a path that none of us ever did. In this sense, Cullen undercuts his thesis with his "psychopath" diagnosis. Yes, these kids evolved to a point that they profoundly lacked all empathy, but why the diagnosis of Eric as someone who is totally outside the margins of our common experience -- as, essentially, a monster? He's scary because in some respects he resembles all of us. We have created a high school environment and culture that's very hard and alienating on these kids. Maybe there is no better way, but Eric and Dylan are not monsters. They are kids we can relate to in some respects, but ones who were able to do monstrous things by taking things to the extreme in the hothouse environment of coming of age.

The leading negative review questions the accuracy of much of Cullen's account. I can't comment on that, though one weakness of the book is that Cullen does not give us enough of the raw data from the basement tapes and other sources and is too busy interpreting for us.

Another weakness of the book is its organization. I think a chronological narrative in the form of "In Cold Blood" would have been more effective. Instead, he tells part of the tale, then jumps around in time. In addition, Cullen's uses slang and tends to "write down" to the reader.

Despite these criticisms, this is a very good and thoughtful book. Too often we are absorbed by a story like this when it occurs and don't go back to sift fact from fiction and to think hard about what the tragedy really means. Cullen's book attempts to do precisely that.
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Breach of Trust 7 février 2010
Par Teresa Buczinsky - Publié sur
Format: Relié
My favorite moment in Cullen's book came when Patrick Ireland was delivering his commencement address a little over a year following the massacre. As a result of the injuries he sustained on April 20, 1999, Patrick had spent that year re-learning how to walk, write, and speak. As he delivered the valedictorian address to his class, Patrick said, "When I fell out the window, I knew somebody would catch me. That's what I need to tell you: I knew the loving world was there all the time."

Patrick's words caused me to realize that much of the horror of the Columbine massacre was the colossal breach of trust that human beings normally assume with one another. We don't like to recognize the fact, but every day we send our children to school, or get into a car to drive to the grocery store, or venture fearlessly into a crowded shopping center, we are acting on a profound sense of faith in our fellow human beings--trust that other drivers will not suddenly veer toward us, trust that other people value their own lives just as we value ours, and that most of the time, this shared value will lead even strangers to help us if they can. Especially in a culture as fiercely independent as our own, the necessity of this trust can be terrifying to acknowledge; no matter how much we would like to believe otherwise, we cannot control other people.

Much of the criticism of Cullen's book comes from parents and researchers, many of whom have spent far more time thinking about and studying Columbine than I have. They say that Cullen does not give enough credit to bullying as a cause for the massacre; they prefer to think of Dylan and Eric as misunderstood outcasts rather than as terrorists willing to sacrifice their lives for the heady experience of power that their breach of human trust provided them. Perhaps Cullen's critics are right, but I suspect that they may be victims of wishful thinking, a desperate need to imagine that tragedies like the Columbine massacre might be preventable if only we were to take certain precautionary measures--anti-bullying programs, for example. Or maybe programs to address the needs of depressed students. I do not mean to suggest for a moment that such programs are not needed, or that they are a waste of time. But I suspect that despite such programs, the terrifying breach of human trust that Eric and Dylan enacted will always be a threat, whether we acknowledge it or not.

I loved Cullen's book above all for its willingness to investigate not just the media myths about the massacre itself but also the web of falsehoods and misunderstandings that grew out of the human grief and suffering that followed. This is a brave book, willing to gamble that the harsh light of truth is a better tonic for healing than the comforting myths we cling to in our darkest hours.
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