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.