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Publisher's Summary

The groundbreaking best seller and classic.

'The tragedies keep coming. As we reel from the latest horror...' So begins the epilogue, illustrating how Columbine has become the template for nearly two decades of 'spectacle murders'. It makes the imperative to understand the crime that sparked this flame more urgent than ever. 

What really happened on April 20th, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, but most of what we thought we knew was wrong. It wasn't about jocks, goths or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on the scene, and he spent 10 years on this book, the definitive account. 

With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world's leading forensic psychologists. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.

©2009 Dave Cullen (P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc

Critic Reviews

"Excellent...amazing how much still comes as a surprise." (New York Times Book Review)

"Like Capote's In Cold Blood, this tour de force gets below the who and the what of a horrifying incident to lay bare the devastating why." (People)

"A staggering work of journalism." (Washington Post)

What listeners say about Columbine

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Wayne O'Brien
  • 02-04-19

Profoundly moving

A genuinely moving account of an atrocity that continues to be painfully relevant today twenty years later. It's hard to fathom how two teenage boys could plan and inflict such mindless terror and suffering on the lives of decent, ordinary people. The entire account is driven by the author's skill in bringing the personalities of all those involved - both the shooters and their direct and indirect victims - to life such that one gains a harrowing insight into the absolute horror that these two selfish, self-entitled and painfully self-absorbed young men visited on the everyday lives of the pupils, teachers and parents of Columbine. The events leading up the attack and its hauntingly sad aftermath are studied in heart-breaking detail. My only criticism of this work is what I perceive to be the author's well-meaning but misguided attempts to portray Dylan Klebold as a kind, deep and thoughtful soul who longed for nothing more than the love and acceptance of his peers; he appears at some point to have lost sight of the fact that Klebold summarily executed five of these same peers in cold blood. Aside from this minor criticism I found the account to incredibly informative (there were many aspects of the attack that I was not aware of; for example it was intended by the perpetrators primarily to be a major bombing) and meticulously researched but my overriding emotion was one of great sadness for all those affected. I found the closing lines and the image it evoked to be particularly emotive. Highly recommended.

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  • VRJust
  • 26-03-19

Wrong choice of narrator- sounds like an X factor advert

Wrong choice of narrator. Sounds almost deliberately dramatic which a subject of this nature does not warrant. This isn’t the narrator’s fault & isn’t “put on” its just the natural tone/ quality of his voice but it’s still not good. It’s borderline parody-like, if that makes sense & a few times I felt myself not being able to pay attention.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-09-19

Dreadful

The narrator reads the entire book like it's a goosebumps paperback from the 90s; the overall tone is completely off from such a serious subject matter. Additionally the actual content is incredibly boring to listen to. Would request a refund if I knew how.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-06-19

Wonderfully written

I found the voice actors voice a little strange at first, but got used to it. The book was beautifully written, equal parts horrifying and fascinating.

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  • mr c j skirving
  • 28-05-19

14 hour film trailer

gripping story however the narrator sounds like hes narrating a 90s action film movie trailer.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-08-19

Great Story Awful Narration

Wonderfully written and researched. Haunting but respectful. Ruined by dreadful choice of narrator. Sounds like he's narrating the trailer for a new Vin Diesel movie. Either that or he's advertising an American second hand car dealership.

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  • dominic redmile
  • 01-09-19

Tragedy

Understanding a terrible tragedy, very good book and narration, god bless the victims and their family’s

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-08-19

interesting

This is a very clear look inside what happened that day and the days proceeding it and those after.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-05-19

Excellent!

Well read, well researched, a very enjoyable listen to a very harrowing event. I would recommend this book.

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  • Jennifer
  • 30-04-19

Very informative & changed my perspective

Highly recommend this.
Having briefly touched on the event in psychology A-level class as part of the question "Do violent games cause violence", this book has changed my perspective of the events and its causes. What you know from media coverage does not even come close to the detail covered here.
Also a beautiful and touching coverage of the impact on the victims and families lives, the people who are often forgotten about years after.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-01-21

Balanced, engaging and insightful.

In depth exploration of all those involved without judgement, presenting a range of viewpoints. Takes you beyond the media headlines and misinformed theories instead engaging you in the lives of all those affected by this tragedy before, during and after the event. Well researched and balanced to present a no bias look at the who, where, how and possible whys. Amazingly well rounded and expertly written to engage you write to the last word. Will listen to again.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-07-20

great but harrowing

this is an excellent book. very detailed & in-depth, taking into account multiple perspectives. it wld be impossible to read about / listen to this topic without being upset and confronted, but I think the author does a really good job of not trivializing the incident or turning it into cheap entertainment. if u want a comprehensive analysis of the 2 perpetrators this is definitely the book to read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-03-21

Truly a tragic event respectfully and truthfully told

Cullen does an amazingly thorough job of analysing the Columbine massacre, the victims, the survivors and the perpetrators. It is a truly tragic story, respectfully recounted, even with a thorough and heart wrenching analysis of the two killers and their families.
My only criticism is of the audible recording. Don Leslie has a good voice but it sounded like he was slightly puffed out and the recording kept picking up his breathing as if the microphone were too close to his mouth. It was a bit distracting at times, but otherwise I cannot fault this Audible

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  • Jennifer2
  • 06-10-20

Well written

A cleverly written book on the dreadful crimes at Collumbine. It describes the events as well as the development of the anger and desire to revenge themselves by the killers.

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  • Grace Less
  • 25-07-20

See behind the sensationalism

Amazing and thoughtful book that goes beyond the media and highlights the victims story as much as the murderers. Really tough subject but essential reading to cut through the mis-truths and learn the facts.

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  • Pauline
  • 26-04-20

One of the best books I've read

This is one of the best books I've ever read. Extremely well researched and written.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-03-20

Very Comprehensive

If you want the real story, both well researched and well told, I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-12-19

Fantastic read!

**5 stars**
As a teacher, this book is truely terrifying.

I have had this book on my TBR for 7 years, and I honestly have no idea why I waited so long. This book was so well written and researched I found it an incredibly insightful, informative and fair read. I think that Dave Cullen has really tried to make sense of a senseless situation and has done so in a respectful and non-judgemental way.

Fantastic reading, well worth picking up!

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  • Wise Owl
  • 29-04-19

Coherently presented multifaceted case study.

I had never been exposed to this event other than brief news presentation and cultural memes. This book is comprehensive and engaging.

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  • MR R S BROOKES
  • 16-03-19

Tragic, sad and sadly once again timely

Really well written obsessively researched portrait of a psychopath and the damage the wrought but also the way that people deal with tragedy.