Sunday, December 19, 2010
Columbine - Dave Cullen
Among Eric's final words (on video) to his parents, he quoted Shakespeare "Good wombs have borne bad sons."
The first question we need to ask: Is it important to know understand what happened at Columbine? I think that answer is yes.
This isn't sensationalized rubbernecking, there's a LOT of valuable information here.
Mistakes were made and instead of coming clean, the media and the police kept perpetuating the false truths until they became reality. What I remember about Columbine, I've learned, is vastly different than what really happened. Why is it important to know that? Because it gives us some context for what we see and hear in the future. The media doesn't care if they get it right, they only care that they get it. Period. We have the right (and an obligation) to question what they tell us.
Psychology in this book is fascinating. Not just Dylan and Eric, but everybody. Witness reaction, survivor reaction, parental reaction, police reaction, public reaction.
Religion made a mad dash for the spotlight in the wake of Columbine. It certainly features prominently in this book. A clinging to faith, a begging for comfort and understanding; some even begging to live. Ultimately, at least according to this book, no lasting changes occurred.
It's hard to "love" this book, but it's definitely a solid 4.5 star read. I liked what he did with the time lines. It saved the reader from being constantly slammed in the face with the massacre and grief. There is some nice dispassionate analysis. I liked that.
The author has clearly arrived at some conclusons as the years have passed, which show through in the book. His impressions may be completely accurate; he's lived with the evidence. Since I haven't read the evidence myself, I can't hang my hat on it being an ultimate truth, but it seems to make sense. There were occasional strange choices in the narrative. Trying to use a "teen" voice. It didn't work and was kind of undermining to his expertise. A minor quibble.
This is an important book, one every parent should read. We can all spin this however we like, but Dylan and Eric had seemingly normal upbringings. The bottom line is this - They weren't your kids, but they could have been.
There's a Hemingway quote toward the end "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places."
May we never have to break this way again.
(I modified this review slightly after originally posting.)