Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review: Columbine

Columbine Columbine by Dave Cullen
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I graduated in 1985 from Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, Colorado. I remained in the area for a few years, and I still have family there. A few years later, I joined the US Air Force. I still go back when I can, but vacations aren't cheap.

Thanks to the internet, media, and remaining family in the area, I keep up with some of the important events. I follow the Broncos, Avalanche, and Rockies, counting them among my favorite sports teams. By April 20, 1999, I hadn't been back for awhile and one event brought it all back home: The Columbine Massacre.

In the thirty years since I graduated, there have been far too many tragic stories in the news. On December 13, 1993, a disgruntled former employee returned to a Chuck E Cheese store in Aurora and killed 4 people. One of those was a Smoky Hill graduate named Ben Grant that my younger brother knew. The perpetrator has been sitting on Death Row ever since, getting stays of execution each time it comes up.

Twenty years later to the day, December 13, 2013, a gunman shot Claire Davis at Arapahoe High School and killed himself. She died 8 days later.

On July 20, 2012, another gunman went on a killing spree at a movie theater in Aurora, killing 12. This was the biggest news from the area since the Columbine killings, where two students killed 11 other students and a teacher, then themselves.

Each of these events hit close to home. Yes, there have been many others, but these were the ones that I felt personally.

We used to take my oldest daughter to Chuck E Cheese when she was little, to the same location where the shooting happened a few years later.

When I was a senior, our football team was one of the best in school history, and I remember attending a game at Arapahoe High, and playing Columbine High in the playoffs at a neutral site.

One of the places my friends and I frequented on weekends and afternoon was the Aurora Mall. This was of course several years before the Century 16 theater was built, where the shooting happened. But its location was adjacent to the Aurora Mall.

So when I ran across this audiobook telling an in depth account of the Columbine tragedy, I jumped on it. It tells the events of that day, of course. But it also goes into the background of the people involved, before and after the shootings. It looks into the minds of the killers, and explores their motivations and reasoning. It tells the story of the victims and their families, and how they dealt with it years later.

The author of this book obviously did quite an extensive amount of research. Not only did Dave Cullen tell the story garnered from all the police reports, interviews, and personal writings, but he presented them in an objective way. That is to say, without laying down judgement. Rather than worry about laying blame or pointing fingers, Mr Cullen shows the reader the human side of everything, from all angles.

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