A place for FF's to write and read brief reviews of books and films for the benefit of other FF's.

A place for FF's to write and read brief reviews of books and films for the benefit of other FF's.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Columbine by Dave Cullen

KCE and DAK were super into this, but it was maybe twice too long as I needed and I found the structure - cutting back and forth through various story-threads before and after - a little difficult. It is thoroughly well-reported, and in a strange way inspirational, but I don't think it was worth reading. Here are the main things I took away (possible misrememberings):

- The principal of Columbine seems to have been a devoted, noble kind of guy who was doing a great job running the school beforehand, and did an even better job after. His story, and the story of a teacher named Dave Saunders, were quite moving. The best details were just about these guys' ordinary lives - drinking a rum and Coke every night, getting together with a high school sweetheart after a divorce.

- Eric Harris was apparently a straight-up, born evil sociopath (or psychopath, the term Cullen seems to prefer). The chapter about psychopathy was the most interesting, and better than the book The Sociopath Next Door.

- Dylan Klebold seems to have just been a tragic, depressed kind of kid. It almost seems like he might've gotten through it and into stability if he hadn't met Harris. Cullen suggests that the combination of a depressive and a psychopath has been noted before in criminal "dyads," like Bonnie and Claude and the DC snipers. I would've liked to hear more about this.

- Both the Klebold and Harris parents were neither abusive nor inattentive. Eric Harris' dad kept a journal where he tried to figure out what was wrong with his son, and did everything he could for him. After the shootings both sets of parents seem to have behaved with great dignity - they met with parents of victims, they did their best to understand this. The Harris parents have never been interviewed. The only journalist the Klebolds ever talked to was David Brooks (although I think Mrs. Klebold since wrote an article in O magazine). I found their stories really tragic.

- Klebold and Harris made a video right before the shootings where they listed a bunch of kids they were gonna kill. They didn't kill any of them.

- Their goal was to blow up the whole school, and they came pretty close. If their bombs had gone off, they would've killed maybe 500 people. Their plan was to stand outside and shoot kids running out after the bombs went off. But the bombs didn't work.

- There were several minutes where Klebold and Harris just stopped shooting, and walked around the school, past roomfuls of kids, without shooting anybody. Cullen attributes this to a psychopath getting bored, the thrill going away.

- The stories about how the Trenchcoat Mafia and "do you believe in God" myths got started are interesting case studies in media hyping.

1 comment:

  1. If you're interested in finding more sociopaths, visit the campus of any Ivy League school. The kind of sociopath who doesn't go around physically harming people, and is just indifferent to the existence of other human beings, is pretty common there.