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FDL Book Salon Welcomes Dave Cullen: Columbine


[Please welcome Dave Cullen, and Host, Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW, University of Pennsylvania – bev]

Columbine is the most important and impactful reading of this massacre that I have read to date. Written by Dave Cullen, it provides the reader with an opportunity to attempt to get inside the minds of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.  Additionally, we get a profile of teenage killers that goes to the heart of psychopathology. We learn of their interactions with one another, their peers, their teachers, and their parents. There were many themes and emerging themes that stood out for me. I think of Mr. D (Frank De Angelis) and how there are many dedicated and compassionate teachers like him, and how they really care about the overall well-being of their students. Even in the midst of chaos, there is comfort in faith. Therefore, the chapters ‘Rush to Closure’, ‘Gifted Boy’, ‘Hour of Need’, had me asking the question, Do We ever Forgive, or can we? and Does God hear the passionate prayers of forgiveness from the parents of Eric and Dylan?

strong>Columbine is a remarkable account of the April 20,1999 Columbine High School shooting, journalist Dave Cullen does an impressive job in dispelling several of the prevailing myths about the event and addresses the most profound question of all: Why did it happen? Moreover, drawing on extensive interviews, police reports and his very own reporting, Dave Cullen, brilliantly pieces together what happened when Eric Harris 18 years old and Dylan Klebold 17 years old killed 13 people before turning their guns on themselves. The media provided their spin that specific students were targeted, namely jocks, and that Eric and Dylan were members of the Trench Coat Mafia.  According to Dave Cullen, Eric and Dylan lived normal lives, but under the surface lay an angry, extremely erratic depressive (Klebold) and sadistic psychopath (Harris), together they formed a combustible pair. They planned the massacre for a year, outlining their intentions for massive carnage in extensive and revealing journals and video diaries. Dave Cullen expertly balances the much needed psychological analysis—enhanced by several of the nation’s leading experts on psychopathology—with an examination of the shooting’s effects on survivors, victims’ families and the Columbine community. Readers will come away from Dave Cullen’s unflinching account with a deeper understanding of what drove these boys to kill, even if the answers aren’t easy to stomach.

Dave Cullen is the author of >Columbine, an indelible portrait of the killers, the victims, and the community that suffered one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century. He is a journalist who has contributed to the New York Times, Slate, Salon, New York Daily News, 5280, Denver Post, Pacific News Service and In These Times. Cullen is considered a leading authority on the Columbine killers, and has also written extensively on Evangelical Christians, gays in the military, politics, and pop culture. A graduate of the M program at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Cullen has won several writing awards, including a GLAAD Media Award, Society of Professional Journalism awards, the Jovanovich Imaginative Writing Award, and several Best of Salon citations. He is an Orhberg Fellow at the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at the Columbia University. Dave grew up in Chicago, and has worked in most regions of the U.S., as well as England, Kuwait and Bahrain. He worked as a computer systems developer for EDS and a management consultant for Arthur Anderson. He served as a Private and Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He moved to Colorado in 1994, and currently lives in Denver. Dave Cullen’s Columbine coverage has been cited by most major media, and featured prominently by columnists Frank Rich and David Brooks in the New York Times, Hanna Rosin in the Washington Post, and the Columbia Journalism Review.  

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Chad Dion Lassiter

Chad Dion Lassiter

Chad Dion Lassiter is nationally recognized in the fields of American race relations and violence prevention among African American males. He has worked with resilient and vulnerable families, youth, and communities as they experience normal developmental transitions in challenging environments. Chad Dion Lassiter’s research interest attempts to contribute to a more informed analysis of the diverse ways that adolescents and families, especially people of color cope with socioeconomic challenges and institutional racism.

He received his Masters Degree at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Social Work where he was the “A. Phillip Randolph Award” winner (2001). Mr. Lassiter was chosen by Ebony Magazine as one of the “Young Leaders of the Future Under 30” in February, 2003. He has worked on race, peace and poverty related issues both in Africa and Israel.