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Summary

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 69 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 best seller 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.

©2013 Åsne Seierstad; Translation 2015 Sarah Death (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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Arduously Long and Shamlessly Airbrushed.

If you're looking for an informative, objective and straight-forward account of the 2011 Norway Attacks, Anders Breivik and the events surrounding them then...look somewhere else. This isn't that. AT ALL. This is a long, drawn-out, soapy novelization of events that depicts the events in a thoroughly incredulous light.

I'm not suggesting that the Author invented witness accounts, events, conversations. I believe every fact stated, every anecdote mentioned, every exchange that took place. But they sound entirely fictitious. Like the inventions of lazy, daytime soap-opera writers with a seemingly infinite amount of time to embellish.

The title promises "The Story of a Massacre in Norway" and that's what you'll get. A story with a cartoonishly-evil villain, bunglingly inept police officers, brave and dashing heroes, and an absurdly, saccharine ending.

This is not a tribute to the victims. A real tribute would be a more honest description. The truth does not need to be "sexed-up".

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An unimaginable horror.

No matter what side of the political & multi cultural chasms of today's world one finds oneself allied to, one cannot deny that the events of 22nd July 2011 in Norway were truly an atrocity.
Åsne Seierstad has managed to write as unbiased & balanced a book on this terrible episode in Norway's history as is possible, the facts laid bare speak for themselves.
This is an exceptionally detailed account and very well read by Suzanne Toren.
The writing & narration had me glued to this audiobook from start until finish.

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Absolutely gripping book

The book is well researched and one feels like getting to know the perpetrator but even more important the victims. The book makes one angry at times and really sad but it is an incredible book that I will listen to again very soon. The narrator is superb as well.

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Extraordinarily good

Difficult listening but so many lessons to be learned as the world continues to divide and divide along lines of wealth, access, education and ethnicity.

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Gripping Listen

rely informative and interesting, well researched and fact filled.
Gave a really comprehensive look at the murderer and his victims.
It is brave enough to look at the lives of those who suffered and try to explain the mindset of the murderer.
There is a huge amount of background detail but it is well worth listening to

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Horrific, thought provoking, informative

Horrific, thought provoking, informative and heart breaking. Well researched. Not enjoyable but an essential read!

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An extraordinary & important piece of journalism

This is a remarkable non-fiction book, the result of deep research and deliberation from Åsne Seierstadt. She combines a powerful narrative with a considered analysis to give readers who don't know much about Norwegian politics and society an insight into the context and aftermath.

The detailed and forensic account of the terrorist incidents and murders was very difficult to listen to, but was an important part of the narrative of the book to factually set out what happened.

I particularly appreciated Seierstadt's engagement with the ethics of writing an analysis of such horrific crimes, and the structure of the book enables the reader to get full and rounded understanding of the victims and their lives as well as the murderer.

The narrator does a good job too: calm, clear and well paced.

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Powerful true story

A very interesting true story that for the rest of the world is just forgot to history. This book selects the lives of a few individuals leading up and after the Oslo attacks. You feel like you know all them and their families. Obviously it’s goes into more details of Anders Breivik and explained what his reasoning was.
A Truly horrific terrorist attack but interesting non the less.

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An amazing work

I read at least one review that suggested the author had fictionalised some aspects of the deaths of some of the young people on the island. The author/s of the review/s did not pay enough attention, or did not read or listen to the epilogue. It’s a tremendously well researched book, providing a comprehensive picture of the events in question. The writer is not just a reporter, but an artist. The narrator is quite an actress. The details of the deaths are gruesome, but all the detail has a purpose that isn’t gratuitous.

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'One of Us': Privileged to have had access to this

'One of Us' is one of the most moving, yet one of the most informative books I have ever had the privilege to have had access to. The quality and detail of the contents is superb. Asne Seirstad has created a most remarkable, informative life-history of those that sadly fell, and of those that that survived here, too - as well as of their families. 'One of Us', I am sure, will also be considered a first-class, and crucial, research reference (Asne Sierstad comments on her authoritative sources of information in the final chapter, The Epilogue). That latter point will be most helpful for all readers, in looking out for future indications of risk in their own communities, to reduce the chances of this sort of thing ever happening again. In addition (as I have both the printed, and Audible versions), I should also like to say how very much I appreciated the narration of this magnificant piece by Suzanne Toren. Her ability to bring the printed-page to life was absolutely remarkable. Listening to her, I could almost feel the presence of the people she was representing, or speaking of. Another task extremely well done. Lastly, in my compliments, I should also mention the translation by Sarah Death. That too (from my lay-person's perspective) seemed absolutely faultless. I should add, before closing, I am a specialist psychologist, and have a particular interest in learning more about these sorts of cases - again, with a view to minimizing risk in society. Indeed, I learned about this book during my visit to the Norwegian island of Utoya - the scene of Breivik's crimes - during a visit there in June 2019, whilst at a Terrorism Conference at the University of Oslo. I ordered it on my return home. Thank you again, to both Asne and Suzanne; and also to Sarah. Reviewed by: Ian Patterson, UK Chartered Psychologist, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.

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  • Claire
  • 07-04-18

True

I was the first person shot in the first school shooting in the United States in 1966. I laid there for 90 minutes until someone was able to get me. I was 18 and 8 months pregnant. the shooter shot for my baby in my womb. Then he killed my boyfriend.

This was one of the most therapeutic books I've ever read. I cannot explain why this is. But hearing what others went through and the careful detail that the author used was very affirming and healing.

49 people found this helpful

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  • D
  • 05-05-17

Heart wrenching and informative

I decided to listen to this book because I wanted to know more about the case. What I ended up with is a much clearer understanding of Norway's social and political structure. Being from Minnesota, I'm basically one of the only people I know who doesn't have Norwegian or Swedish ancestry. Learning about Norway was fascinating and I'd love to travel there someday.

The author describes the perpetrator, the victims, the survivors, and the many people indirectly impacted by this crime with such care and respect. Yes - even for the perpetrator. Through his own words - his blog, his "book", his testimony - he showed what a bigoted, misguided monster he is. The author simply presented the facts in a well organized, thoughtful way. The performance was excellent - she did an amazing job pronouncing Norwegian words and didn't "Americanize" anything. I appreciated that. This book is difficult to get through. It's painful. It's unbelievably sad. Your heart will break for the parents of these children. But it's also very well written and extremely well performed.

15 people found this helpful

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  • NMwritergal
  • 22-03-18

You can't be in the heads of dead people

I understand creative nonfiction and like it, but it can go too far even if (as the author says at the end of the book) she did extensive research. Too many times I found myself thinking that the person she was writing about was dead and even if she did intensive interviews with family members, writing "s/he thought" or "s/he felt" or describing what the person was doing when alone crossed the line because she couldn't have known. The person is dead and you can't interview a dead person. Perhaps I'm wrong. The problem with audio books is it's difficult to go back and find examples. As well is all the reconstructed dialogue, which I find somewhat problematic.

The book was twice as long as it needed to be. For instance the chapter about tagging was ridiculously boring and didn't contribute much of anything. The description of the perpetrator's childhood, however, did.

I did find the political context of the book quite interesting.

The other thing that really bothered me is how she returns again and again to one of the teens who appears to be dead but always leaves a bit a doubt that the teenager is actually dead. It felt like she was trying to create suspense (well, she did), but it felt icky.

The narrator was not great--she sounded far too pompous, proper, and/or dramatic depending on the section she was reading. You don't get much more dramatic than a crazy man shooting 69 teenagers, so I felt the drama that she read with as the perpetrator mowing kids down was distasteful.

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  • Michelle in New York City
  • 18-11-16

A Thoroughly Researched and though provoking Book

This is the shocking story of Anders Breivik, who, alone, killed 77 people in a one day terror attack on his fellow citizens of Norway. Many of these victims were teenagers who were attending a summer camp. This book is very well written and tells, not only the progression of this mass murderer's life , but also weaves in personal stories of the progression of many of the victims' lives. I thought this was a very important part of the story...so the reader can get a better understanding of the impact of this event.
This is really a very thoroughly investigated book and this writer tells a complete and thought provoking story.
Although the courts found this man sane, I think his own writings and actions prove differently. He is truly a madman with a murderous rage and no empathy for others. He also has an extremely high opinion of himself. The book that he was writing is an example of his disorganized, bizarre and grandiose thought. I was shocked to find that he was only given 21 years in prison... the maximum penalty in Norway. He is most certainly a danger to society and I am not sure what Norway will do with him upon release.
The narrator has a very pleasing voice and is a positive addition to the audio version of this book.

11 people found this helpful

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  • DT
  • 06-07-21

Long, can be hard to follow

I was interested in learning more about this tragic event but this book was too much! There was so much that wasn’t pertinent to the story. As an American I also found it very hard to follow because simple things like names and places were hard to distinguish. That combined with the story generally being drawn out made it really hard to keep my interest.

1 person found this helpful

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  • jeremyeb14
  • 06-06-21

disgusting feminist propoganda exploits a tragedy

I couldn't even finish this useless tripe about females trying to overcome "male power" and those "evil politicians" trying to cut welfare benefits. ie government no longer forcing unrelated parties to pay for the poor life choices of poor people.

I was really hoping for an insight into this horrible event as it's a half world away from me but I'm so utterly disgusted that this event was used as a pulpit for political parties.

This author has preached about her unrelated causes while standing on the dead bleading corpses of innocent shooting victims.
This is so disrespectful of the people who died and useless political propoganda to anyone actually wanting information on the event.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Heather Tucker
  • 14-04-19

Best podcast I have listened to!

This is a story that needed to be told. Its structure, incorporating stories of some of those affected by this atrocity, is first rate. I cannot recommend this enough.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Romarok
  • 21-05-17

Good, but long

Excellent insight into a horrifying mass murder in Scandinavia and beautifully written. But some parts, i.e. the life story of the perpetrator, could have been dramatically condensed. Nonetheless, I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Norway massacre and what led up to it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Valerie
  • 14-10-21

the scarey part is this is a true story

Very interesting account of this man's life. Was his psychopathy the result of his early childhood, lack of loving parents or innate? I sometimes got lost in the timeline and as it was done on audible, I couldn't go back and reread to better understand where we were. I would still recommend listening or reading this book.

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  • Jenni/Emma
  • 30-06-21

Very sad and disturbing true story

A very sad and disturbing story. I don't want to say "I loved it" because that's not right. But It's a story that you must know and must listen to to understand. It was a very well written book. At times very graphic. It took me some time though to figure out the layout of it as it jumps between characters without a notion of who it goes to until you hear a name and than try to remember who that is. And it takes about 10 hours in to the book before the bad happens in the story. I highly recommend you all to take a listen for the lost souls sake😢