Today I read the book Columbine, which is the definitive history of that massacre.
I suppose I knew that the prevailing narrative of the massacre, that the killers were taunted by jocks and then snapped, had been effectively disproven, but to have read that somewhere and to see everything explained are very different. Journalist Dave Cullen has done a brilliant job deconstructing the entire thing. It’s all here. There is an exact reconstruction of the attack, interviews with pretty much everyone, some incisive analysis of what drove Eric and Dylan, stories about the police coverup that followed the massacre–everything.
Dylan is the most fascinating character, to me, and also the scariest. Eric was a psychopath, and yes, he fooled everyone-which is terrifying–but Dylan is every depressed teenager boy whose parents miss the signs. He just happened to fall in with this kid who would lead him to help commit a shocking crime. Dylan could be anyone.
Eric is, as I said, hugely frightening in his own way. I’m not sure I knew that he originally conceived for Columbine to be not a school shooting but the site of a mass bombing that would up McVeigh’s body count.
Cullen’s book is a masterpiece of true-crime writing and a vital document for understanding Columbine. His website,, has a wealth of information as well, including scanned pages from the boys’ journals–which are more chilling then just about anything else I’ve ever seen.


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