Tragedy in Aurora: The Culture of Mass Shootings in America

Rowman & Littlefield. Aug. 2019. 304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781538123430. $32; ebk. ISBN 9781538123447. SOC SCI
Retired lawyer and former journalist Diaz (The Last Gun), in collaboration with Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, the parents of Aurora shooting victim Jessica (Jessi) Redfield Ghawl, write an earnest examination of U.S. gun violence. Chapters alternate between personal details (the horrific irony of Ghawl’s being present at but escaping the June 2, 2012, Toronto food court shooting only to die six weeks later in the Aurora tragedy), and ambitious attempts to provide a historic context for how we got to this point and why nothing seems to be changing. The authors’ use of statistics is compelling; they write, “We are shadowed by the knowledge that at any minute of any day another public mass shooting erupt,” completing this book just before 12 people were killed at a Virginia Beach Municipal Center in June 2019; how many more mass shootings before there’s dedicated change?
VERDICT Recommended for general audiences, this book could provide solid reference points in conjunction with other sources on the topic, such as Dave Cullen’s Parkland: Birth of a Movement.

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