One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad (EPUB)
A harrowing and thorough account of the massacre that upended Norway, and the trial that helped put the country back together
On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb outside government buildings in central Oslo, killing eight people. He then proceeded to a youth camp on the island of Utøya, where he killed sixty-nine more, most of them teenage members of Norway’s governing Labour Party. In The Island, the journalist Åsne Seierstad tells the story of this terrible day and what led up to it. What made Breivik, a gifted child from an affluent neighborhood in Oslo, become a terrorist?
One of Us
As in her bestseller The Bookseller of Kabul, Seierstad excels at the vivid portraiture of lives under stress. She delves deep into Breivik’s troubled childhood, showing how a hip-hop and graffiti aficionado became a right-wing activist and Internet game addict, and then an entrepreneur, Freemason, and self-styled master warrior who sought to “save Norway” from the threat of Islam and multiculturalism. She writes with equal intimacy about Breivik’s victims, tracing their political awakenings, aspirations to improve their country, and ill-fated journeys to the island. By the time Seierstad reaches Utøya, we know both the killer and those he will kill. We have also gotten to know an entire country—famously peaceful and prosperous, and utterly incapable of protecting its youth.
If I hadn’t known the reality, I would have thought it was another badly written crime novel. It almost made some of the information seem made up or too cliche. It made me feel guilty for mentally complaining about the style while reading about people I knew had died in terrible circumstances.
Regardless, I’m glad I read the book. It’s important to try to find out why people chose to act this way. Not because it makes it more understandable or acceptable, but because it might help stop it from happening again.
Overall, an excellent gritty read, well worth your time.