One of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of 2015 and a New York Times bestseller, and now the basis for the Netflix film 22 July, from acclaimed filmmaker Paul Greengrass
Widely acclaimed as a masterpiece, Åsne Seierstad’s One of Us is essential reading for a time when mass killings are so grimly frequent.
On July 22, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb outside the Norwegian prime minister's office in central Oslo, killing eight people. He then proceeded to a youth camp on the wooded island of Utøya, where he killed sixty-nine more, most of them teenage members of the country's governing Labour Party. In One of Us, the journalist Åsne Seierstad tells the story of this terrible day and its reverberations. How did Breivik, a gifted child from an affluent neighborhood in Oslo, become Europe's most reviled terrorist? How did he accomplish an astonishing one-man murder spree? And how did a famously peaceful and prosperous country cope with the slaughter of so many of its young?
As in her international bestseller The Bookseller of Kabul, Seierstad excels at the vivid portraiture of lives under stress. She delves deep into Breivik's childhood, showing how a hip-hop and graffiti aficionado became a right-wing activist, a successful entrepreneur, and then an Internet game addict and self-styled master warrior who believed he could save Europe from the threat of Islam and multiculturalism. She writes with equal intimacy about Breivik's victims, tracing their political awakenings, teenage flirtations and hopes, and ill-fated journeys to the island. By the time Seierstad reaches Utøya and relates what happened there, we know both the killer and those he will kill. In the book's final act, Seierstad describes Breivik's tumultuous public trial. As Breivik took the stand and articulated his ideas, an entire country debated whether he should be deemed insane, and asked why a devastating sequence of police errors allowed one man to do so much harm.
One of Us is at once a psychological study of violent extremism, a dramatic true crime procedural, and a compassionate inquiry into how a privileged society copes with homegrown evil. Lauded in Scandinavia for its literary merit and moral poise, One of Us is the true story of one of our age's most tragic events.
Journalist Seierstad (The Bookseller of Kabul) delivers a vivid, thoroughly researched, and suspenseful account of the 2011 massacre that killed 77 people in her native Norway. On July 22, Anders Behring Breivik disguised himself as a policeman and set off a bomb in Oslo's government quarter, killing eight. He then made his way to the island of Ut ya, where he murdered an additional 69 people, most of them teenagers attending a camp sponsored by Norway's Labour Party. Seierstad's comprehensive investigation examines that fateful day, the events that led up to it, and the trial that followed. She also chronicles the troubled life and radicalization of the convicted killer, the mismanaged police response, and the government's reaction. The book features evocative portraits of some of the victims and brims with vivid descriptions of the villages, city squares, buildings, and fjords of Norway, touching on the country's politics, changing demographics, and cultural shifts. With a reporter's passion for details and a novelist's sense of story, Seierstad's book is at once an unforgettable account of a national tragedy and a lively portrait of contemporary Norway. 8 pages of b&w photos.
Respectfully presented, important study of a tragedy, learned a lot from this book
I Am One of You
I am an American who began traveling frequently to Norway in 1970. I married a Norwegian, had two sons who chose dual citizenship. In spite of living in the United States, one spent a year in the army doing national service.
In the 1980's, I began to see Norway change with the influx of many from the Middle East. I grew concerned, dispite my left leaning politics and multicultural background. Many years later, Brevik's horrific acts seemed to justify my fears in a way never imagined.
One of Us brings clarity to this unfortunate period in Norway's history. For me, I was able to see beyond a superficial veneer and deeply into the lives of all involved. The book portrays each individual and event in a nuanced, thoughtful and complete description of what happened, why and when.
It has brought a new understanding for me to a country I love. I recommend it highly.