Andrew Brown

With Evil Intent

One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway


Virago 528pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Had he not murdered seventy-seven people, Anders Behring Breivik would have been an unremarkably horrible nerd. This is the gloomiest conclusion to draw from Asne Seierstad’s exhaustive study of his life. In the kindergarten phase, he did not play well with others. As a child, every gang and every game he tried to join rejected him. He may be gay, as some of his friends supposed. What is certain is the extraordinarily cold quality to the loathing of women displayed in his life and in the manifesto that he published online shortly before he launched his attack. It starts with his family: his half-sister is described as ‘infected by chlamydia after having more than forty sexual partners’; his mother ‘was infected with genital herpes by her boyfriend (my stepfather), Tore … The herpes infection went to her brain and caused meningitis … She now has the intellectual capacity of a ten-year-old.’ Seierstad adds the appalling detail that when Tore dumped his mother, Breivik bought her a vibrator. She said that she was through with sex entirely, but he kept asking, solicitously, whether she had used it yet.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,