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Newtown: An American Tragedy [Hardcover]

Matthew Lysiak
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

16 Jan 2014
Twenty-six people dead; twenty of them schoolchildren between the ages of six and seven. The world mourned the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. Now, here is the startling, comprehensive look at this tragedy, and into the mind of the unstable killer, Adam Lanza. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and a decade's worth of emails from Lanza's mother to close friends that chronicled his slow slide into mental illness, Newtown pieces together the perfect storm that led to this unspeakable act of violence that shattered so many lives. Newtown explores the two central theories that have permeated the media since the attack: some claim Lanza suffered from severe mental illness, while others insist that, far from being a random act of insanity, this was a meticulously thought out, premeditated attack at least two years in the making by a violent video-gamer so obsessed with "glory kills" and researching mass murderers that he was willing to go to any length to attain the top score. Lanza's dark descent from a young boy with adjustment disorders to a calculating killer is interwoven with the Newtown massacre as it unfolded at the time, told from the points of view of eye witnesses, survivors, parents of victims, first responders, and Adam's relatives. A definitive account of a tragedy that shook a nation.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: ATRIA BOOKS (16 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476753741
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476753744
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 407,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


""Newtown" goes beyond the sensational news bytes we have become so accustomed to. . . . A vivid portrait of the remarkable heroism shown by those involved in the tragedy, and the sheer horror that occurred. . . ."--Coalition to Stop Gun Violence --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Matthew Lysiak is a staff writer for The Daily News (New York) who has received national recognition for his exclusive reporting on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and the Newtown killer Adam Lanza, the Aurora gunman James Holmes, the Tucson shooter Jared Loughner, the Fort Hood army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, and more.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There really isn't any other book out about this yet. At the time it came out, it contained a lot of exclusive information. I don't feel like giving a long, detailed review right now... I'll just say that I enjoyed the read, and read it more than once in the space of a month or so. It could have been better, but as it stands, it was pretty damn informative.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Starting Point For Those Interested 28 Dec 2013
By ReadItCarefully - Published on
Format:Hardcover trying to understand what happened and why. I read this yesterday just before the Ct. Police Report was released. Anyone with a child like Adam will immediately connect with the frustration Mrs. Lanza suffered as she tried desperately to find help for her 'little boy', a boy who loved and trusted her, but as he grew into the teenage years, in all probability, grew as frustrated as she and withdrew to a world of violent computer games and deeper and deeper mental illness DESPITE the psychiatric help she was able to provide.

Some quotes that stood out for me were, "If one more psychiatrist tells me he will grow out of it, I'll go nuts" (paraphrased). I was particularly interested in learning that teachers had labeled her as hysterical, anxiety ridden, and all the other catch phrases professionals of that type use to describe parents who are just trying so hard to get them to understand that 'something is wrong with their child, please help!!!!" frustrated was she, that she did what other families have done -- thrown their hands up in frustration!

You'll also learn that substitute teachers weren't given keys to lock their doors and it wasn't until the custodian ran down the hall to warn them there was a shooter that he was able to lock some of the doors. I believe the two classrooms that were hit the hardest were the very ones who were unable to lock their doors.

Plus I always thought they lived in this huge mansion, when, in fact, their house was very small, according to the video I just watched put out by the State of CT. The house may have been 'expensive' but it certainly was no mansion. As far as I can see, most of what the press dubs as expensive is quite ordinary to any middle class or upper middle class family living in a small home in an expensive town. So, instead of judging Mrs. Lanza for her mistakes (we all make mistakes as parents) perhaps we should look at her, too, being victim No. 1, a mother whose very own son placed a gun directly to her head and pulled the trigger more than once. I truly believe if she had lived, she'd have been just appalled and in shock to know her son had committed such a heinous, unthinkable act of violence.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A ton of politics 16 Feb 2014
By Tia - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although this book was wonderfully written, throughout I could not help but notice the massive amounts of gun ban referrals, and it kind of got me thinking that it was essentially going to end with huge blurb about supporting anti-gun laws. It wasn't until the end that they really started discussing mental health, and I appreciated this immensely. However, it wasn't until I read the "about the author" that I really realized the author was strictly reporting the facts about the anti-gun laws, considering he supports funding for mental health. In a lot of ways it just made this book even more powerful and really shows that our country needs to get their priorities in check. Great read, but be prepared to cry. This book contains very sensitive material.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift 9 Jan 2014
By Bookreporter - Published on
It has been one year since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Having grown up 20 minutes south, with family members connected to teachers and victims alike, I have a difficult but incessant interest with what happened on December 14, 2012. No book can answer the question we all need to have answered when it comes to mass violence such as what was committed that day. How do we make sure that this will never happen again?

Even with all the information released by the police (the State’s Attorney in charge of the case is someone I grew up with) in the last week or so, that answer, if it exists at all, is still far from being determined. Matthew Lysiak, a New York Daily News reporter who moved to Newtown in the wake of the shootings to live there and get the story behind the horrors, tries to answer that question, and so many more, in NEWTOWN: An American Tragedy.

Like the plethora of books that lined bookstore shelves after 9/11, the scent of death still pervades, and the sense of weirdness one feels about having any lingering interest in reading the details of that nightmarish morning and its aftermath masks the public’s hungry thirst for information. Steering clear of all the strange and horrible conspiracy theories that abound on the Internet in regards to the incident, Lysiak takes the reader quietly from moment to moment, from the mornings of those who lost their lives that day to the formidable efforts made in their memory by the family that the children and teachers left behind. Knowing what the children had for breakfast or the streamlined and thoughtful pursuit of victims by Adam Lanza through the school’s halls doesn’t make the fact that it happened any less heartbreaking and resoundingly difficult.

NEWTOWN has no pictures, since photos of the crime scene have not been released. Lysiak is a tabloid journalist; he doesn’t gussy up the situation and create poetry out of the madness and sadness. Instead, he gives you emotionally wrenching information without cowtowing to the type of response usually expected in the relaying of such experiences: maudlin, God-ridden text that makes everything you are reading about even worse.

This is a document. A document of one horrific day and what comes after it. One horrific day and what came before it. The Connecticut governor’s touching speech, President Obama’s carefully uttered words of solace, the testimonials of parents and teachers and Newtown residents, are all recorded here, factually, just the way they were spoken last year. But it’s after all the documentation that the book actually becomes something that might intrigue a random reader who doesn’t want to relive the tragedy itself.

The end of the book is both a “what if” about Nancy Lanza and her parenting skills, which is somewhat tawdry and doesn’t serve a definitive purpose since it’s all conjecture, and a “what now,” in which people who are supposed to know how these things work comment and develop theories of their own on the future impact of these senseless killings. Psychologists discuss violence in our society, and eventually the real message of NEWTOWN is clear: it is up to America and each and every American to decide whether or not this is going to happen again.

As a parent who also loves this country, I hope that we all will continue in dialogue towards a more peaceful and respectful place, discussions not bogged down in constitutional politics but filled with the earnest yearnings of human beings who only want to live together in peace and harmony. In that, NEWTOWN carries with it a positive gift during this holiday season, darkened by the specter of all those lives lost just one year ago.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sad sad story that needed to be retold. 18 Dec 2013
By Teresa Buonomo - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Just like anyone else watching the tragedy unfold on Dec 14th, I cried all day watching as reports flooded out of 6 year old babies being massacred along with the sheer bravery of teachers and administrators who valiantly tried to protect them. The story hit home even more for me because I grew up in Newtown, am a teacher myself, and actually had interactions with Adam Lanza in Reed Intermediate School when he was in 5th grade.

The book does not shed much new light on the subject, but that wasn't my expectation going in. How many different news accounts can there possibly be? What drew me to the book was Nancy Lanza and her possible role in raising her son. The author did a fine job portraying her as a victim as well. The woman tried so many times unsuccessfully to get her son help. Maybe if the institutions for the mentally ill were still operational, tragedies like this may have been spared. I'm not advocating that I agree with her decision to have her son own guns or take him shooting, but from this report it appears that she tried time and time again for help only to be turned away. How frustrating as a mother!

The book is well written and pays tribute and homage to the 26 angels of the tragedy, giving each his/her own story as well as dedicating time to understand that Newtown as a community did what needed to be done in the minutes it took a madman to destroy innocent lives. I came away truly believing that the first responders and officers, who have been under scrutiny as of late, did everything in their power to stop the massacre and get help that was needed.

The issue of gun control will always be a hot button topic that I will refrain from voicing my opinion on, but the author did a stellar job remaining neutral. The issue as I see it from this author's perspective anyway, is the issue of the mentally ill and how to properly care for them so that maybe some of these terrible acts of violence can be prevented.

This is not a book for you if you are simply looking to rehash the day like many in the media do. It is for those who may want an insight into possibilities for why it happened although there will never be an answer and maybe how we as a society can examine the issues of guns and mental health so that further families can be spared the heartbreak.

As always, thoughts and prayers are with the families of every victim that terrible day a year ago. God bless those angels whose lives were taken too soon. Let them know that their lives were not taken in vain.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars worth reading to remember the victims 2 Mar 2014
By Frank Gotlibowski - Published on
This is a book that I feel is an important one to read. It does start out about the shooter's childhood. It does make us realize that his mother had many of her own issues. I feel this is a big part of why the shooter was allowed to live his life the way he did as long as he did. I believe this horrific tragedy could have been prevented.This book then does get into the actual day. We then as readers get to read about the heroic acts of a horrific day. As a preschool teacher myself, I believe those kids where meant to be with those teachers that day. They acted in ways that I believe only a truly loving teacher can. This book helps us get to know more about those 20 innocent, beautiful children, and the six amazing adults who died trying to protect them. I am also a Connecticut resident and know for a fact that December 14th 2012 is a day that forever changed our state. We are stronger because of them and will never forget them.
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