on April 21st 2015
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 One of Us, 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?
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.
One of Us presents a detailed account of Anders Breivik life and how he came to massacre 79 people. From his sad childhood until his total break with reality Anders Breivik devised a terrible plot against his country because he opposed the immigration happening in Norway. What struck me most about this story was how totally unprepared the Norwegian government was for this type of attack.
Was Anders Breivik a homegrown terrorist or raving manic? I think he was not working with a full deck. With a growing concern in the United States about immigration, One of Us is a timely read.
MICHEL MARTIN, host: Now to an issue that’s been on many of our minds since that tragic attack in Norway last week. Anders Behring Breivik confessed to the attacks that left more than 70 people dead. He said that he believes Europe is at war with Islam and his actions were necessary. Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, spoke today at a press conference.