Columbine, by Dave Cullen

You never know what you’ll find on a library shelf when you’re foraging for a read.  There, in the Political Science section, was a dusty copy of Dave Cullen’s 2009 elegy chronicling the horrible events before and after what took place in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999, seventeen years ago today.

Twelve students and one teacher at Columbine High School were killed by fellow students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17 on Adolf Hitler’s birthday before committing suicide.  Some claim it was just a coincidence, I say…not a chance these boys desperate for twisted inspiration.

Let me admit, to having a deep fascination with what comes up as mass murder.  It’s not as if I’m into the gory details…it’s more its birth…where the hatred commenced.

The two infamous murderers were just kids…products of their time and place, shunned and rejected by their peers.  This is how it sadly began.  They were bullied, barred and never accepted feeling left out and alone.

The hurt festered into hate consuming the hearts of these two boys. images

I too come from isolated, lonely beginnings never feeling loved nor embraced.  In my case, it softened rather than turn me into a revenge machine, where all I wanted was to get even, but see where it might have taken a different turn.


How did the parents of these two boys not know they were planning such destruction hiding much of it in their rooms?  I’m a big proponent of privacy, my mother pretending it didn’t exist, but then I didn’t hide a sawed-off shot gun in my dresser drawer next to my socks either.  They were stealing, vandalizing, posting bravado on their websites…why wasn’t something done before that fateful day?

Moot I know since it happened so long ago, but that’s the power of prose…it resonates…oozing off the page like that interminable smell after a 12 alarm fire.

How did no one know what was simmering below the surface of Eric and Dylan who didn’t even try too hard to hide it.  They were making bombs, bragging to whomever would listen, practically begging to be found out.

Judgment Day, is what Dylan scribbled in his diary before the massacre took place.  It made me think, prior to 9/11 when if anyone took the time to notice, were so many clues to what was about to happen to change the world.

This book is not for the faint-hearted since it bleats with blood and pain, but it does sober you into a place where you feel it might have been prevented.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like that day where, if you were one of the luckier ones, were concealed beneath a desk your terror your closest ally, watching a beloved teacher slowly bleed to death, while a girl and boy you knew sat lifelessly to be heard from no more.

It rivaled those leaping from the World Trade Center while the rest of the world watched.

There’s poignancy in the macabre, don’t think there isn’t.  Just because you want to hide your eyes doesn’t mean it’s any less meaningful.

I don’t know what the answer is…whether to spot check your kid where he feels he’s totally exposed, stripped of all rights, or to tip-toe around pretending you don’t hear that porn/Nazi site he’s dedicated to at 3 in the morning, because you just don’t want to be that kind of parent.

I say, be that kind…because maybe, just maybe if Katharine and Wayne Harris and Thomas and Susan Klebold paid more attention, their kids along with twelve others and a teacher, might still be here to talk about it.  When I read they couldn’t even bury them for fear their graves would be desecrated opting for cremation, it was then my heart made room for these two tragic families.

Columbine, written by journalist Dave Cullen, is a riveting revelation for what, God forbid, could be more coming down the pike if as parents, we’re not more vigilant.41QZNh4LR2L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_


Recommended reading: A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Sue Klebold

A mother’s worst nightmare.  Her candor, laced with courage, coming clean concerning all she felt, softened me toward her, truth once again leading the charge.






About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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25 Responses to Columbine, by Dave Cullen

  1. micklively says:

    I have a number of pet theories on the whys and wherefores of such tragedies. But you’ve heard them all before, so I won’t restate this morning. No-one listens. We’ll carry on regardless and then jump through the same hoops next time.


    • I don’t remember your theories, and even if I did, state them for those who haven’t. It’s a worthy subject in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • micklively says:

        We foster a multi-billion pound (or dollar) industry, loosely called “advertising”, which is relentlessly persuading us that our lives could be wonderful, fulfilled, joyous, meaningful, if only we spent our money on their product/service; but we will be unloved, niggardly, smelly, excommunicate, unattractive, worthless if we don’t. Most of us can cope, to a greater or lesser degree, with such messages, even if we hand over our money. Some can’t.
        There’s a theory that says most mental illness is self-worth based. You don’t have to look far to find the triggers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So you think this is what happened to Eric and Dylan?


      • micklively says:

        I don’t know. It’s a simplistic analysis I offer. We’ve had a spate of children committing the most heinous crimes in the UK. What went on inside their heads: I suspect we’ll never know. But any fool can see that our society is broken and not fit for purpose. Why will we continue to support a system that allows sixty-five people to own half the world’s wealth? Again, I don’t know. Advertisers deliberately mislead. They sell lifestyles that are not available. Every tier of society has a hundredth of the places of the one below and so, it follows, they are lying to ninety-nine percent of us. Yet still we sign up, pay our taxes, and believe in the supremacy market forces. We probably deserve everything we get, massacres included.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That last line is a bit harsh, don’t ya think? Those kids certainly didn’t deserve it, and I didn’t mention those who lived many now in wheelchairs. And that teacher who died? He was shepherding students out of the building when he was shot and basically bled to death. He was a real saint that man…as saints go.

        Liked by 1 person

      • micklively says:

        Of course, if you reduce it to personalities, we’re all innocent. We know folk are dying like flies from preventable disease but we’re innocent. Folk fly jets into office blocks: not our fault. Our taxes buy bombs: we don’t have any choice.
        As I previously said, society is broken and not fit for purpose. So, you tell me: who’s responsibility is that? I don’t claim to know anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Me neither there Mick. Trump just won the New York Republican primary. Who would have thought? Certainly not me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • micklively says:

        Don’t tell me you feel disenfranchised in the land of the free? Sorry: I shouldn’t mock. Churchill said democracy was the worst form of government, apart from all the others that have been tried. Clever words from a millionaire. I ask: who is trying any alternative? ISIS maybe?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just got a chill.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. skinnyuz2b says:

    I cannot wrap my head around such senseless killing. Back in 1989, the wife of a college friend was a teacher during the Stockton killing of young children in their schoolyard. Traumatized, she was never able to return to a profession she loved.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was such a tragedy and I don’t think anyone can wrap their heads around it. There were many factors that went into it. When I was a kid there wasn’t any bullying unless you count the nuns. The nuns would not have allowed the bullying. Of course they would hit you with a ruler!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Elle Knowles says:

    It’s so hard for teachers to get involved with their students today, as in trying to mentor and steer them in the right direction. And don’t EVER mention the G word for fear you may be forcing your religious views on your students. Teach by the book and don’t go outside the box. Their hands are basically tied. Therefore, you are right Susanna, parents need to step it up a notch and be more inquisitive about their kids whereabouts and what they are doing or hiding and how they are treated by their peers. It all starts in the home…~Elle

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t lucky enough to be a parent, but when you learn what these boys were up to right in front of everyone’s nose, you can’t help but to be a tad judgmental about their parents.

      Sue K’s memoir is a heart breaker…her grief packaged in guilt makes you feel such empathy for her. Now she lectures on the whole Columbine tragedy that must have healed her in some way. Her candor is what broke up her marriage. Dylan’s dad just didn’t want to talk about it or hear his wife for that matter. Such a pity they couldn’t bond over their loss…sigh

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beyond sad all around. I worry about our future. I see parents at the playground with their heads in their phones as their kids squeal with joy … how would this crew recognize a “warning sign”? Maybe if it was on FB, Twitter, Snap Chat or Instagram they would, but other than that they are blind, to the good in their children and their potential troubles.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Lights Out As “The Attic’s” Virtual Reality Convention Comes to An End | In My Cluttered Attic

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