Ask Dave Cullen Anything

by Chris Bodenner

Dave wrote the definitive book on the Columbine shooting, which is about to have its 15th anniversary next month:

Columbine won the Edgar Award, Barnes & Noble’s Discover Award, the Goodreads Choice Award, and several others. It spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and made two dozen Best of 2009 lists, including the New York Times, LA Times and Publishers Weekly. Columbine was declared Top Education Book of 2009 by the American School Board Journal. Cullen spent ten years writing and researching Columbine. He has written for New York Times, BuzzFeed, Times of London, Newsweek, Guardian, Washington Post, Slate, Salon, and Daily Beast and is a frequent television analyst. He is currently working on a book about two gay colonels, who he has followed for twelve years.

Here’s more about that forthcoming book, Soldiers First:

This book began for me in 2000 with a long piece on gay soldiers for Salon. I spent five months with a group of them in Colorado Springs and was stunned to discover how their world was completely different than what I’d seen, heard and described on the outside. It was easy for them to find quick, meaningless sportsex under the policy, but nearly impossible to find a boyfriend. So we named the first half of that piece: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Fall in Love.” It was the best thing I ever wrote prior to my first book and it won the GLAAD Media Award for best on-line story of the year. The article was published in two parts, here and here.

Among the scores of good reviews for Columbine came from The LA Times’ David Ulin:

Forget everything you thought you knew. The girl who professed her faith in God before being gunned down in the library. The Trenchcoat Mafia and the feud between the goths and jocks. The idea that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold — the two Columbine High School seniors who, on April 20, 1999, killed 12 of their fellow students and one teacher in what was, at the time, the worst school shooting in the history of the United States — were disaffected, unpopular, motivated by resentment or revenge. Even the fact that the killings took place on Adolf Hitler’s birthday was a coincidence: The boys had planned to do it a day earlier but hadn’t been able to get the ammunition in time.

All of this, Dave Cullen notes in “Columbine,” his comprehensive account of the tragedy and its aftermath, is the story we’ve been given, the mythic version, the one that (if anything can) aspires to make a kind of sense. It’s a rendering in which the pieces fit together and the terror of the day is mitigated by small moments of redemption, whispers of epiphany and grace. The problem, however, is that none of it happened — or more accurately, none of it happened exactly like that.

A more succinct review:

What would you like to ask Dave? Submit your questions via the survey below (if you are reading on a mobile device, click here):