Parkland by Dave Cullen

On February 14th, 2018 gunfire broke out at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. By the end of that day, 17 students and staff had lost their lives, and the Parkland shooting surpassed Columbine as the deadliest high school shooting in history. Dave Cullen is considered an expert on mass shootings. His landmark book Columbine is considered one of the definitive accounts of that tragedy. Since then, he has become a go-to resource to comment on the countless similar tragedies that have plagued the United States. Cullen thought he was done writing books about mass shootings. In fact, he's been developing a book on another subject for years. When he saw glimmers of the kids taking action after the Parkland shooting, Cullen's journalism instincts kicked in and he began to follow the birth of their movement.

In sharp contrast to Columbine, Cullen devotes little of this book to discuss the specific details of the shootings or the motivations of the killer. This is not a retrospective of the event, but rather a focus upon the political and social movement that it inspired. Cullen writes of the difference in reactions from the survivors of Columbine and Parkland.  While the students and staff of Columbine were struck with mostly shock and uncertainty, the Parkland students had grown up in a world where mass shootings were part of the norm. Instead of feeling shocked, a large number of students were simply angry. How could these shootings still be happening? Nearly 20 years after Columbine shocked the world, the kids in Parkland were fed up.

Rumblings of the movement to come started that same day. Student David Hogg recorded interviews with his fellow classmates on his phone. The shocking recordings from inside the school during the shooting were just the beginning. In interviews with news outlets, Hogg proclaimed his disgust at the adults who failed to enact legislation to prevent these massacres from occurring. Three days later, Emma Gonzalez made waves with her impassioned speech at a gun control rally. Within a week, a group of students organized together in a call for increased gun control and stricter legislation. They vowed that their generation would put a stop to senseless gun violence.

In Parkland, Dave Cullen chronicles the rise of the youth organization March For Our Lives. This is not a book about mass murders, the causes of gun violence, or politics. Cullen never attempts to do anything more than depict the way a group of teenagers turned their horrific experience into a movement of hope. Out of the initial calls for action rose a nationwide campaign for change that seeks to get the people in power to take preventative actions against gun violence. I was struck by the way this group seeks to avoid political affiliation of any kind. In these divided times, it is refreshing to see people focused on solving a problem and not fighting about political ideology. It seems like we see news of mass shootings nearly every week. With the increased in youth involvement on big societal issues like the one highlighted in Parkland, I'm hopeful that tragedies like this will only be part of our history books and not our everyday life.

For more information visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.
(2019, 9)



This entry was posted on Monday, March 18, 2019 and is filed under ,,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

14 Responses to “Parkland by Dave Cullen”

  1. We lived in Coral Springs in the same school district for 6 years in the 90s. This sounds well done. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. Oh wow, so you have a personal connection to the story. It was such an inspirational read!

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  2. I really love the fight in these kids.

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  3. This looks awesome! I don't know why I like books about shootings. I think because it always invokes so much emotions out of me.
    Great review!

    Ash @ JennRenee Read

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    1. It is such an interesting topic. I really liked that this one didn't dwell on the horrors.

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  4. I like how Dave chose to write about the proactive result rather than analyze the mass shooting- not that doing that would not also be important for future prevention. But, focusing on a different sort of prevention for this new generation is important.

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    1. I agree. I think that prevention starts by saying, "This is unacceptable and we have to find a way to stop it." Whatever your stance on gun regulation, I think these kids are expressing a frustration that many Americans feel.

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  5. What an amazing way to bring something positive from such a horrible tragedy. When I was a teen, a church from our small community had a tragic bus crash involving a drunk driver. It was awful, but it really opened people's eyes to the problem of drunk driving.

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    1. However tragic events may be, it is always nice when new awareness is born out of them.

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  6. I think I would have a hard time reading this ): what's going on in america is frustrating

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    1. I agree that the current political system in the US is frustrating. I'd argue, though, that this books is the kind of antidote to that frustration!

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  7. I've actually owned Columbine for years now, and I do need to read that - but I also want to check this out. I think the Parkland kids are amazing, but seriously, why are these mass shootings still happening? Change needs to come.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I read Columbine years ago, but this one is such a contrast. It definitely points to a more optimistic future.

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