The Mystery of the Lone Wolf Killer: Anders Behring Breivik and the Threat of Terror in Plain Sight

Unni Turrettini. Pegasus, $27.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-60598-910-5
Readers interested in learning how mass murderers who act alone can be stopped are likely to be disappointed by this unpersuasive book. Turrettini, a Norwegian expat residing in the U.S., starts with Anders Behring Breivik’s horrific 2011 crimes: he set off a powerful bomb outside the offices of the Norwegian prime minister in Oslo that killed eight people and then fatally shot 69 more at a nearby summer camp. Turrettini’s account of this massacre is riddled with generalizations. For example, she describes Norwegians as “sleepwalkers” who “don’t take care of one another.” The author is quick to dilute the narrative by frequently switching to discussions of the Unabomber (Ted Kacyzinski) and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. An entire chapter devoted to dismissing the value of gun control adds little to the book’s central argument, which is that such massacres are preventable. Turrettini further weakens the book with inconsistent claims (she cites the Virginia Tech massacre as a case where gun control might have made a difference) and spotty reasoning (she claims that the Virginia Tech shooter was technically not a “lone wolf” because he left a paper trail). The book’s most profound flaw is Turrettini’s argument that lone wolf killers can only be thwarted if members of their communities speak out about their unusual behavior before they strike. The very limited practical value of such an approach is glossed over. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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