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Friday, April 3, 2009

Massacre at Virginia Tech (Non-fiction Juvenile)

Released March 2008

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

There are many kinds of disastrous events, yet somehow those that could have been prevented strike us as the most horrifying of all. If a tornado strikes a town tearing down property with a large loss of life, we are sorrowful, but accept it on one level because it is a natural disaster. On April 16, 2007, another disaster was unfolding that many thought could have been prevented if steps had been taken prior to its inception. In the early morning hours almost two years ago, Seung-Hui Cho began his murderous rampage on the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, also known as Virginia Tech.

The first to die of Cho’s wrath were Emily Hilscher and Ryan Clark. Initially the local police thought this was an isolated incident and therefore campus officials decided that cancelling classes would not be necessary, a decision that was later regretted. Cho, at that point, traveled to the post office to mail his previously recorded video to NBC news. This video, once broadcast, gave us a devastating glimpse into the eyes and mind of a madman. In all, Cho took the lives of thirty-two students and professors.

I must say that this was an extremely sobering read, but tastefully presented. Some disastrous events are of the heartbreaking type, but have and will always happen. In this book Richard Worth carefully and respectfully discusses the victims (a list is provided), but also ponders the obvious mental illness of Seung-Hui Cho and his life up until that fateful day. He also discusses other young mass murderers and includes a short chapter debating gun control. It’s a difficult subject to write about on a juvenile level, but the author has done well.

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