Sunday, September 27, 2020

NetGalley ARC | Six Days in August: The Story of Stockholm Syndrome


I received a free digital copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating ⭐⭐⭐

Prior to reading this, I did not actually know where the phrase 'Stockholm Syndrome' came from, aside from some vague notion that there was a hostage situation in the 70s that resulted in the coining of that term.

Even after reading the book, it still boggles the mind as to how people held hostage could want to save their captor, but I have never been in that situation so I don't think I can or even am meant to understand it. This is, simply or not so simply, what happened and how it happen, and the aftermath.

On August 23rd, 1973 Jan-Erik Olsson walked into the downtown branch of Sveriges Kreditbank. He wore a wig and sunglasses to hide his identity, fired off rounds from his gun, and what followed became a really weird hostage situation.

From the start this whole thing was a clusterfuck. The media absolutely went nuts for it - and that's saying something, considering the nonsense we are dealing with today. I can't even imagine what it would look like had this happened in now instead of in 1973. The world was captivated by the unfolding drama playing out live on television.

During that six days in captivity, Olsson's hostages became quite attached to him, as well as his buddy Clark Olofsson, who was released from prison in the hopes that he would somehow assist the authorities with bringing Olsson out. I mean, seriously? Come on, like that was going to happen.

After six day, the whole thing finally came to an end and the hostages defended their captors, going so far as to refuse to testify against them. Instead, they helped fundraise to pay for their defense. One of the women also asked Olofsson to father a child a few years later, to which he agreed but wanted nothing to do with the child. Like, what...?

There is a wealth of information here. So much, in fact, that it is nearly a minute-by-minute account from across the entire six days which the group spent within one of the bank vaults. Based on information provided by the publisher, the account also contains information from sources and documents that have not been published before. Many involved in the original event were also interviewed and contributed to the book. I have no basis for how much of this is actually new, as it is my first book on the subject but it does seem quite thorough and detailed.

Even so, this book was a struggle for me to get through at times. Much of that does have to do with the fact that no matter how much I read of the book itself, or what I looked up on my own as I was reading, I could not wrap my head around the fact that the hostages wanted to protect their captors. Self-preservation is one thing, but to continue to defend them afterwards? I just don't get it. And like I said before, maybe we are not meant to, and that's fine, but DAMN, did I want to smack some of these people around after the first couple days.

The author has done a fine job in bringing the story to life and tells it in a readable way. He leaves some questions unanswered here and in this instance that decision actually works - things like whether or not both men were equally guilty in the situation (yes), and if the police knew what they were doing (no).

I don't know that I will pursue this subject further, as it seems that this account is well-told and thorough enough for me. Also, not really as interesting of a story as I thought it would be.


  1. Replies
    1. RIGHT?!?! I just could not believe what I was reading. It's such a strange phenomenon.


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