One of Us, by Åsne Seierstad

In 2011 Anders Breivek killed 77 people in Norway. It wasn’t all that long ago, so you probably remember a number of details. This book recalls those details you remember and then fills in each and every gap that there possibly could be.

When documenting events, finding information can be difficult. Given the extent and depth of the background surrounding this killer, there was no problem at all finding a plethora of information. The internet or digital age presents any historian all the information they will ever need for hugely in depth analysis.

Åsne Seierstad has further benefited from her subject’s use of the internet… and everyone else’s internet use at the time. Beyond what was available online the author has spoken to practically every person involved in Breivek’s life. The lesson here is to write accounts based on modern events and via wiki, Google and the fact that every one shares everything on social media, you will have an easy task. Given this massacre, I very little doubt this was an easy expedition for the author.

If you have a debate coming up regarding nature versus nurture this book would be perfect example of nurture. Except, as the book painfully reveals, nurture was something that Breivek craved but never experienced.

From the chapters on his early life, in fact from the very first pages about his early life, you can easily tell that there is something not quite right about the home life and upbringing that was experienced by Breivek. Thankfully the author doesn’t use this as an excuse, but merely offers it as matter of fact and allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Much of what is reported on is done in a completely objective manner, which further adds to the chilling nature of the crime. The crime itself, including the bomb and then the murderous rampage are expertly analysed once again leaving nothing out. The details of the event are graphic and pull no punches, so don’t expect any.

The author also spends time analyzing the victims too, something that is quite unique to such a horrific event. But the more you read, the more you see how this aspect of the slaying gives you a full perspective into the extent of the tragedy.

The killer himself now sits in a high security prison with a 21 year sentence, odds are he will be there for the rest of his natural life. He was judged sane and despite the various rants and his trouble upbringing, throughout the novel the author has been able to depict how abnormal this man was.

A very hard hitting and detailed appraisal of an event that changed the lives of many and a country too.

0 comments… add one

Drew Thompson Drew operates a successful hobby farm for pampered cattle in rural South Auckland. He once dabbled in education, where he discovered any book was a good book. As with most ex-teachers, he realised he was better off spending his time and patience on his own awesome children.

Leave a Comment