Massacre in Norway: The 2011 Terror Attack on Oslo and the Utoya Youth Camp by Stian Bromark and Hon Khiam Leong (translator)
|Massacre in Norway: The 2011 Terror Attack on Oslo and the Utoya Youth Camp by Stian Bromark and Hon Khiam Leong (translator)|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A misguided look at one of the most misguided people of recent history.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 208||Date: April 2014|
|Publisher: Potomac Books Inc|
Anders Behring Breivik was 32 when he both planted a van bomb in Oslo's central government district to hit out at what he thought was 'Cultural Marxism', which killed 8, then left for an island in a lake 24 miles away, where a notably political youth gathering was enjoying itself. He gunned down 69 people – more than one in ten of those at the camp – and wounded many scores more. He also spammed countless people with another of his projects, a lengthy manifesto declaring his ideas about Islamisation and what he saw as a pernicious multiculturalism ruining his country. His case was one of the more superlative events in modern Nordic history – as was the surprisingly lenient sentence for over 70 lives of just 21 years. This is, as you'd expect, one of the many books to result from the case.
It's just not what I wanted from a book about it all. We open with two lengthy chapters about life at the Workers' Youth League camps, from the eyes of a lot of young, teenaged voices whose identities we can never hope to latch on to. Here you can go skinny-dipping (although only on the allowed days), here you can find someone to join you down Lover's Lane (and possibly end up in the camp newsletter), you can have lectures and workshops geared to each and every political focus of the young left-winger, watch Datarock concerts (remember them?) and more. Heck, you can even enjoy Bolshevism Bay.
This is supplanted at last by the entrance of the culprit here, and his toings and froings in his hired rental vehicles in aid of his murderous plotting. When the news of the Oslo blast hits the island a lot of the youths gather in the main building to find out exactly what has happened and what it will lead to – providing Breivik with a captive gathering to disturb in horrific fashion. With forensic reportage we see a picture of what went on – noted political guests of the camp hiding at the water's edge, children cowering and still being mowed down heinously, desperate teens taking for the 600 metre swim away – we get barely a glimpse of how bad it must have been.
But to talk of bare glimpses… This book just does not engage you with the reality of Breivik. In fact only once before the epilogue, and then only a few times, do we even get anything like his name. Yes, do this for artistic effect – if the youths and the desperate authorities did not know his identity, why include it here until it was known, but don't denigrate his part in proceedings. Whole books could be written as to his methodology, his ideology and his mindset both on the day and before, here we hardly get more than a couple of pages. I'm not saying the political bias of the book is wrong, but biased it is in this and more, so much so that we don't get any real idea of the causes of this case. There's a frankly ridiculous statement from the author that Islamic terrorism is just 0.3% of all such in Europe, which quite rightly has no source. In his acknowledgements, the author admits he used the first of two psychological studies on Breivik – the one that declared him clinically insane and not fit for trial, and not the latter one the courts recognised.
And it's not that this is a case of the history being written by the winner, for it's revealed how varied the responses of the youths were since, at the trial and beyond, and for many, just surviving does not count as a victory. This work is a great testament of the day from their point of view, but it really felt blinkered for me in not examining all the reasons behind the events, all the ideas that Breivik nurtured so nastily, and how they might be countered. The author met with and fully understands the victims, but didn't show to me that he understood either what should have been his real subject, nor in my case, his audience.
I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.
That's Racist: How the regulation of speech and thought divides us all by Adrian Hart is a book that Breivik and those concerned about his case should certainly read.
You can read more book reviews or buy Massacre in Norway: The 2011 Terror Attack on Oslo and the Utoya Youth Camp by Stian Bromark and Hon Khiam Leong (translator) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Massacre in Norway: The 2011 Terror Attack on Oslo and the Utoya Youth Camp by Stian Bromark and Hon Khiam Leong (translator) at Amazon.com.
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