Dave Cullen's unflinching, in-depth look at the infamous tragedy is tough to read, even tougher to put down...and scary as hell if you are a parent of high school aged children.
It dispels many of the myths and falsehoods surrounding the event (i.e. Eric and Dylan had shoddy, uncaring parents, specific groups were targeted, Cassie Bernall was a saintly martyr who died professing her faith in God, when it was actually Val Schnurr, etc.) and puts a human face on almost all the parties involved. It reminds me a great deal of Capote's In Cold Blood and Waumbaugh's Echoes in the Darkness, two paragons of the true crime genre of non-fiction.
As I mentioned before, the book is downright frightening if you are a parent of a teenager and the reason for this is two-fold. The first reason is obvious, NO ONE wants their child to be put in harm's way and experience an event as horrific as the Columbine massacre was. Secondly, the massacre happened for one reason and one reason alone: Eric Harris was a full-blown psychopath at 18-years-old. He fooled everyone (parents, teachers and mental health professionals alike) and masterminded every nuance of the attack. He had no agenda other than the utter annihilation of the human race, which he wrote about incessantly. Dylan Kelbold had his own issues to be sure but he never would have harmed anyone, other than himself, without Eric leading the way to slaughter.
Now you think about that fact the next time you catch your kid in a lie or breaking a rule or two. After reading this book, you'll have to ask yourself, "Is this just normal, teenage behavior or is this something much, much more?"
You'll never know until it's too late, unfortunately. Eric Harris was banking on just that; that shadow of a doubt, that "not my kid" thought process would allow his master plan to come to fruition and alter countless lives forever.
It's a goddamn scary, haunting and somber thought, no?
Great works of art illicit such thought provoking questions and Dave Cullen's Columbine is just that, so pick it up if you have the chance. You will not be disappointed...scared maybe...but not disappointed.