In Columbine, Dave Cullen tells the story of a uniquely American mass murder. On April 20th, 1999 two disaffected young men began a killing spree in their high school that killed thirteen and wounded twenty-one more. Cullen, a reporter who responded to the emergency calls, reconstructs the events. Columbine challenges the narrative that emerged in the aftermath of the massacre (including the fate of “the martyr of Columbine,” Cassie Bernall) and analyzes the media’s fascination with the murders’ comfortable, middleclass backgrounds. Cullen then turns to the inevitable question of why these particular boys committed this horrible crime. The more he delves into the minds of the killers, the more one comes to realize these children were an aberration, a psychopath who gave warning signals and his depressed follower. Cullen’s sharp and incisive reportage makes Columbine an addictive and cautionary read.
After several years of marriage, Rachel Dickinson’s husband Tim revealed that in his youth he had been a falconer. So begins the odyssey recounted in Falconer On The Edge (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24). With dry wit, a fairly resigned attitude and her game-face on, Rachel traces the story of the most famous contemporary falconer of all, Steve Chindgren. His pursuit of the perfect bird led him all over the American West. Dickinson masterfully blends the romance of falconry with an unerring insight into the more unsettling sides of obsession. Both her prose and her story recall John Krakauer’s Into the Wild as we follow Chindgren’s path through self-discovery and personal challenge.