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Publisher's 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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  • Claire James
  • 07-04-2018

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • D
  • 05-05-2017

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • NMwritergal
  • 22-03-2018

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle in New York City
  • 18-11-2016

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Romarok
  • 21-05-2017

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Leigh Nelson
  • 13-07-2018

Interesting, historically important, very long

The book opens with the scene of the shooting; I had absolutely no idea how there could be 20 hours of material left, if the “most important” part of the story took place in the first ten minutes. And indeed, it was too long.

I think it’s nice that the author spends time telling us the life stories of people who survived and people who didn’t, and in her epilogue she talks about speaking with the families, and letting them participate in how their child should be remembered. I understand that people don’t want to glorify the killer, so a book that contained only his life-story would be a book telling a selective narrative of an event that was experienced by many different people.

However, it was too much for me. I’m not sure having more details of a victim’s life-story made me feel differently about them.

One of my problems with the book was the use of dialogue. I know the author did a lot of interviews, but when talking about things in the past (like someone’s childhood), the dialogue is essentially made-up — unless someone recorded it, we can’t know exactly what person X said when they were 4. The author then takes some liberties and comes up with what they think might be close. Maybe this was a translation-issue; whatever it was, I often found myself saying, “Oh come on, nobody talks like that when they’re 4” and “I highly doubt that the conversation went like that.”

I feel like for people unfamiliar with Norwegian culture, I can summarize about 5-7+ hours of the book thusly: politics are important in Norway. Being into national politics is a hobby of many (most?) young people in a way that is very unlike youths in the United States (for example), and people believe that joining a party could actually have some impact on that party’s politics, as well as serving as a social club. So a summer camp for high school students run by a political organization is not weird in Norway. That’s the summary.

I really enjoyed the way the author pointed out failures in the system as she told the details of the day of the shooting. I thought the descriptions of the court case and Brevik’s correspondences from jail were very interesting.

As an international news story at the time, we got short clips of the perpetrator, crying relatives, and then it wasn’t exciting anymore so the world moved on to the next tragedy. But the story doesn’t end with a criminal in handcuffs; and this book is about how it didn’t start with just a psychotic man coming out of nowhere. It started in different places with different people whose lives came together in one place, at one point in time.

(As a side note, I think the book would have been easier for me to listen to if I had a lot of friends with Norwegian names, or had travelled in the area; if that were the case, the names of the many characters and places would be less foreign, easier to remember, and make the multi-narratives less confusing.)

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  • Michael
  • 04-06-2018

This audio book doesn't play.

I tried to download this file three times and it still will not play. The start and end times both show NaN:00:NaN.
I was really looking forward to this book. Too bad it doesn't work.

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  • Arthur
  • 04-11-2016

Excellent narrative - hard to put down

This is a story about the Norwegian version of 9/11. Much of this narrative is eerily similar to American domestic right wing terrorist attacks. However, the author goes into much more detail about the terrorist and his victims than most narratives go into for a terrorist attack - at the end of the book, you really feel like you know the terrorist - that he isn't a monster but he literally could be one of your conservative/Libertarian friends who got lost in his own reality. Definitely a good cautionary warning of the new reality in the age of the Internet.

3 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • John K Rayburn
  • 06-05-2017

Very detailed

Would be better if I had printed edition to re read some details. Lots of details

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Clyde
  • 19-03-2017

Greatly detailed recounting of horrible crimes!

Terrible crimes, intriguing story...
Really poor narrator/reader choice.
Uppity sounding reader; incongruent with atrocities of story. Too sing songy. Melodramatic voice sounds like an American soap opera star from the 1950's to 1980's

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Kunde
  • 15-05-2018

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-04-2018

A deep and detailed dive into a fascinating case

The performance of Suzanne Toren is perfect, the research by Åsne Seierstad is in depth.

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  • Lincolnshire Amazonian
  • 29-10-2017

Written factually with authentic emotion ...

Story beautifully scripted - the reader connects with each family sadly affected by this pointless outrage.

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  • Mrs. Rosa M. Crosbie
  • 26-09-2017

Excellent read and a tribute to all the victims.

Very clear narration. Well written and provides insight into areas I knew nothing about. Chronologically clear and concise.