13 March, 2016

One of us : the story of Anders Breivik and the massacre in Norway by Asne Seierstad

Before I started this book, I had only a hazy recollection of the news items covering the shocking event that took place on 22 July 2011 in Norway.

Anders Breivik, a 32 year old Norwegian planted a bomb in Oslo as a distraction, then headed to the island of Utoya where a political gathering of mostly young people was underway. He calmly shot dead 69 people. Eight died as a result of the initial explosion in Oslo. The author describes how Norway was totally unprepared for such an event.

Asne Seierstad is a Norwegian foreign correspondent who has tackled this tragedy in a very sensitive and respectful way. On one hand, she presents an in-depth investigation into what motivated Breivik, and the signs that he was deeply troubled. On the other hand, she has written about some of the young victims, bright and hopeful young people, ready to contribute to Norway’s future. When I read about the loss of such beautiful young people, I felt heartbroken for the victims and for their families and friends. So much was lost that day.

Sometimes true crime books can seem like voyeurism, but this one doesn’t. It feels like a tribute to the victims, their families, and to the open-mindedness of Norwegian society. It is a very powerful read.

Title: One of us : the story of Anders Breivik and the massacre in Norway
Author: Asne Seierstad

Recommended by Judy W, Orewa Library.

Judy W may appear to work as a library assistant but in her own mind she is a top criminal defence lawyer and animal rights activist.

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