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Your initial reactions upon gazing the book cover of “Newtown" will be to avoid reliving the Sandy Hook massacre. Matthew Lysiak, author, details the modern American nightmare, which leaves readers depressed and emotionally drained. However, reading Newtown is an important first step in starting to comprehend the roots of school shootings and its lasting effects on the families and communities.
The 20 years old shooter murdered his mother, 6 educational professionals, and 20 early elementary aged children. It's too easy to avoid thinking about this tragedy and bury your head in the sand, but the value of Newtown is the direct and clear descriptions of the shooters atypical childhood development, anti-social behaviors, and clear behavioral warning signs that escalated into mass murder. There are no explanations that will help the reader understand the shooter. However, the reader is exposed to a series to environmental circumstances and behavioral chains that culminated to into the worst tragedy in American History:
1) At age 4 the shooter was exposed to guns and practiced marksmanship on the shooting range.
2) The shooter's mother purchased high capacity weapons and magazines, which she illegally provided to her emotionally troubled son.
3) As early as kindergarten school officials implemented interventions designed to accommodate the shooter’s high degree of social anxiety and aspergers syndrome.
4) The shooter received mental health consultation and various psychotropic medications throughout his childhood.
5) The shooter was socially isolated from his peers, drew numerous pictures of people being shot to death, collected information on mass murders, and played thousands of hours of the video game "Call of Duty".
Newton also describes the courage of the Sandy Hook Elementary personnel and first responders. Lysiak spends time outlining the positive attributes of each victim. Overall, Newtown will make you very sad and troubled. However, the reader takes away certain behaviors exhibited by the shooter that almost anyone would identify as threat to society.
There is value to revisiting the Sandy Hook massacre and learning from its awful lessons.
Readers interested in more information related the precursor behaviors and environmental circumstances that related to the tragedy should go on to read the CT Attorney General’s Report on Sandy Hook (free On-line) and Andrew Solomon’s interview with the shooters father in the March 2014 New Yorker Magazine.
10 of 13 people found this review helpful
This book was informative, and did a good job of summarizing the story of Newtown. But it seemed to lack the panache and exhaustive investigative query of Dave Cullen's Columbine. Some parts of the story seemed more like filler and in my opinion was unnecessary. Towards the end there were good chapters on the role of mental illness in stories such as these, as well as some question as to whether Lanza may have been psychopathic, or have some sort of ASD diagnosis. Overall good story told with empathy.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful