I kinda wish this had come out this year and not 2015.
We’re looking at the ten-year anniversary of 22 July, the date of a horrifying terrorist attack in Norway, the body count of which made international news. Åsne Seierstad’s book has been lauded the last few years as the ur text on the subject; it had a quick English translation and has become an international bestseller, as well as the basis for a Paul Greengrass Netflix movie.
While dense and not well-structured, the book effectively does what one expects it to do: go deep on the life of Anders Breivik, as well as several of the victims, and talk about how their lives intersected, as well as what happened after the trial and its impact on Norway.
3/4ths of this long book make up the first part while the second and third get the short shrift. I would have liked to have known more how this book impacted Norweigen society as a whole, though I appreciate that Seierstad keeps her focus on the survivors and the families of the victims. She also resists the urge to turn Breivik into a cartoon. He comes off as a fully fleshed out human being who gets some benefits of Norway’s generous (to an American, at least) welfare state but who still had a lot against him. Nevertheless, he had opportunities to do something with his life…yet the vagaries of being Way Too Online took root. It was easy to see where things went from there.
This is an essential read but it needs an update.