Shortly before going to trial, the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik assured a psychiatrist that he was an essentially respectable character. Leaving aside a “window of three hours” on July 22nd, 2011, Breivik explained, he had never behaved threateningly to anyone. Inside that window, Breivik detonated a van-bomb outside a government building in Oslo, killing eight people. He then proceeded to the small island of Utøya, where the youth wing of the Labour Party was holding its annual summer camp. There, using semi-automatic firearms equipped with laser sights, he slaughtered sixty-nine further victims, most of them teenagers. Then he surrendered, so he could inform the world why all this had been necessary, from a political point of view. When the police made him strip, to confirm he wasn’t wired with a bomb, he grinned and struck a bodybuilder’s pose in his underpants.
The prospect of spending 500 pages in the company of such a man is not tantalizing ... [read more]