Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hasday, Judy L. Forty-Nine Minutes of Madness.

Hasday, Judy L.   Forty-Nine Minutes of Madness.      Enslow      48p   $23.93  978-0-7660-4013-7           ms/jr       Series: Disasters - People in Peril (Enslow) VG-BNS        

Judy Hasday’s book is both powerful and informative.  The events of the day of the horrific shootings in Columbine, Colorado, brief biographical information about the killers and details about the aftermath tell of a premeditated attack that could have had even more victims had the propane bombs detonated.  The author’s writing style is terse, fast-moving and dramatic.  Her purpose is not to show cause nor to offer judgment.  Instead, Hasday presents details in a somewhat journalistic style.  The events unfold in such a way that the reader feels a chill as he/she moves through the five chapters.  In Chapter One, the information is largely introductory and describes Columbine and its community, discusses the perpetrators of this cold-blooded crime, and ends with a few summary details of the school shooting.  Chapter Two describes the friendship that developed between Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in which Harris is portrayed as the extrovert and Klebold as the introvert.  Possible causes are also enumerated.  Chapter Three presents the details of the morning of the shooting chronologically.  Chaos and confusion reigned as the killers went around the library systematically killing most in their path, and while SWAT teams, police and other officials converged outside, killings continued until the young men killed themselves at the end of their rampage.  All of the victims are named in this chapter.  Chapter Four presents the aftermath.  The dead could not be removed from the school until it was certain that there were no bombs.  It is left for the reader to ponder how family and friends must have felt at their inability to look for the children inside.  The final chapter summarizes, showing how the community has moved forward and what is being done by law enforcement officials around the nation to better prepare for student violence.  The layout is simple and powerful, the supporting photographs are authentic and poignant, and there are general support features such as a glossary, chapter notes, resources to consult and an index at the end of the book.  All in all, in her portrayal of the events of that day, Hasday has created an oxymoron, a “thorough summary,” no easy feat with the plethora of information that is available about the Columbine High School shootings. 

Disasters-People in Peril examines catastrophic events, including the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the 2004 tsunami, and the storms caused by El Nino and La Nina.  Facts, photographs and authenticated quotations are used to tell each story.  This series is best for middle-school libraries, although upper-elementary students with a certain maturity level could handle the contents as well.                                                        -- Martha Squaresky    

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