Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present

Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present

From the author of Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters comes an in-depth examination of sexual serial killers throughout human history, how they evolved, and why we are drawn to their horrifying crimes.Before the term was coined in 1981, there were no "serial killers." There were only "monsters"--killers society first understood as werewolves, vampires, ghou...

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Title:Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present
Author:Peter Vronsky
Rating:

Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present Reviews

  • Jessica

    Alright, so you're talking to someone that loves history (the more facts, the better!) and it's a bonus that this is about serial killers. I loved that it also included serial killers that I hadn't heard of before and that we went so far back into history to study them. I'll warn you now, this one is a lot more technical than you would expect (which could translate into a more dry read for some). The amount of research that went into this book is amazing.

    SONS OF CAIN focuses more on the serial k

    Alright, so you're talking to someone that loves history (the more facts, the better!) and it's a bonus that this is about serial killers. I loved that it also included serial killers that I hadn't heard of before and that we went so far back into history to study them. I'll warn you now, this one is a lot more technical than you would expect (which could translate into a more dry read for some). The amount of research that went into this book is amazing.

    SONS OF CAIN focuses more on the serial killers that commit sexual crimes and killings. What makes them different than other killers? As a warning, these killers engage in rape, torture, cannibalism, and even necrophilia, so if those topics are ones you wish to avoid, then this won't be the book for you.

    This dives deep into the minds of these killers and also examines why the public seems to be so fascinated and mesmerized by their horrific crimes. I think the most captivating and creepy part of this book was hearing about the author's personal brushes with some of these killers. Makes you wonder if you've ever interacted with or encountered someone like this. This is why I will always love to read true crime novels and why they will scare me the most. These people exist(ed) and these crimes actually happened, if that's not chilling and terrifying, then I don't know what is.

    If you're a fan of true crime and are curious about a more in-depth history of these kinds of killers, then this will be a truly fascinating read. Again, this book is very technical and heavily researched, so it may read like a textbook or encyclopedia for some readers. I will be going back to find his other books about the more modern serial killers!

  • Neelam Babul

    I first read about serial killers in an article I came across and later on studied them in depth as part of my studies for my bachelor's degree in law.

    This book is a comprehensive guide on the origin of serial killers, their history from the stone age to the current times as well as their evolution and transformation.

    The writer also presents brief biographies of various serial killers throughout the ages.

    A conclusive guide on understanding and widening your awareness on the subject.

  • Valerity (Val)

    This is a comprehensive history of serial killers by author Peter Vronsky which discusses killers going way back, and talks about the coining of the term ‘serial killer’ and its use. Lots of research went into the book and it’s very well written. Unfortunately, I had trouble with parts of it due to my sleep disorder, which caused me difficulty getting through it so I’ll likely go back and read it again at a later date when it’s not acting up as much. For those interested in the subject, you may

    This is a comprehensive history of serial killers by author Peter Vronsky which discusses killers going way back, and talks about the coining of the term ‘serial killer’ and its use. Lots of research went into the book and it’s very well written. Unfortunately, I had trouble with parts of it due to my sleep disorder, which caused me difficulty getting through it so I’ll likely go back and read it again at a later date when it’s not acting up as much. For those interested in the subject, you may want to give this a look if you want to check out the history of them and how they came into being. A different type of books than the ones about their crimes and the trials, but fascinating in another way, for sure, as an overview. It is impressive with all of the information that went into it. It gives a good understanding of how they likely came into being from the very earliest of times, from the days of Cain and Abel...Adam and Eve. My thanks for the advance electronic copy provided by Netgalley, author Peter Vronsky, and the publisher, for my fair review.

    Berkley Publishing Group

    Pub: Aug 14th, 2018

    My Bookzone blog on Wordpress:

  • Shannon (Mrsreadsbooks)

    This book contained so much information! I was not expecting it to be so complex. The book is broken into 3 different sections; On the Origin of Species: The Evolution of Serial Killers, Serial Killer Chronicles: The Early Forensic History of Monsters and The New Age of Monsters: The Rise of the Modern Serial Killer. This book included information about serial killers that I have never even heard of and went back hundreds and hundreds of years. It is very well researched and the author talked ab

    This book contained so much information! I was not expecting it to be so complex. The book is broken into 3 different sections; On the Origin of Species: The Evolution of Serial Killers, Serial Killer Chronicles: The Early Forensic History of Monsters and The New Age of Monsters: The Rise of the Modern Serial Killer. This book included information about serial killers that I have never even heard of and went back hundreds and hundreds of years. It is very well researched and the author talked about things I was even familiar with. I was more familiar with infamous serial killers such as Jack the Ripper and individuals in the United States from 1950-2000. This was a really interesting book and I think that anyone who enjoys reading about serial killers and true crime will really enjoy this book. It is fairly dense and contains a great deal of information.

    Thank you to the publisher, Berkley, for sending me an ARC of this book.

  • Diane Hernandez

    Sons of Cain is the story of real serial killers from the stone age to now.

    The book is divided into three parts. Part I contains definitions, Earth’s history and man’s place in it, and psychological diseases that may be causing serial killers to be more frequent now. Part II and III are the meat of the book focusing on pre-Industrial society and from Jack the Ripper forward, respectively.

    You can skip Part I and just look up anything for which you need additional information later. It’s written l

    Sons of Cain is the story of real serial killers from the stone age to now.

    The book is divided into three parts. Part I contains definitions, Earth’s history and man’s place in it, and psychological diseases that may be causing serial killers to be more frequent now. Part II and III are the meat of the book focusing on pre-Industrial society and from Jack the Ripper forward, respectively.

    You can skip Part I and just look up anything for which you need additional information later. It’s written like a textbook—informative but bone dry. In addition, if you are not a fan of Darwin’s evolution, it goes down that rabbit hole for a bit too.

    The remaining parts are a mixed bag of pedantic, interesting and fascinating. My favorites were the 1874 Bostonian 14-year-old Jesse Pomeroy, Jack the Ripper and the extensive analysis of why serial killers began to be more prevalent in 1960s to peaking in the 1990s.

    Sons of Cain is an interesting true tale of serial killers. It is recommended for readers or viewers of thrillers containing serial killers like Silence of the Lambs and Dexter. It is highly recommended to writers of stories involving serial killers. And, of course, current, past or future serial killers (you know who you are) should pick up this book to avoid making the same mistakes as their predecessors (just kidding). 4 stars!

    Thanks to the publisher, Berkeley, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

  • Scott S.

    In

    , author Vronsky (a historian who has authored other true crime books) presents a well-researched and very detailed if occasionally dry exploration of the serial killer phenomenon.

    Split into three sections, the early chapters outline the psychology and the science aspect. In the second part Vronsky dives deeply into history, with a fair amount of page dedicated to the lesser-known European murderers in the 15th through 19th centuries who pre-date the infamous 'Jack the Ripper' ca

    In

    , author Vronsky (a historian who has authored other true crime books) presents a well-researched and very detailed if occasionally dry exploration of the serial killer phenomenon.

    Split into three sections, the early chapters outline the psychology and the science aspect. In the second part Vronsky dives deeply into history, with a fair amount of page dedicated to the lesser-known European murderers in the 15th through 19th centuries who pre-date the infamous 'Jack the Ripper' case. 'Jack' is used as the launch into the conclusion which leads to the so-called 'golden age' - the author's words, not mine - in the U.S. from the late 60's to the start of the 21st century.

    In a good way (as to not glamorize them any further, at least) many of the notable 'monsters' of the latter part of the 20th century - Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, etc. - get only token mentions and their cases are not actually discussed in depth. That's fine, really, as their horrible and disgusting actions have been already written about in numerous other books over the years.

    Vronsky presents some intriguing theories as to why America experienced such an increase in serial killer activity in the 70's, 80's and 90's, as well as why said activity appeared to decrease after 2000.

    There are some terrifying and tasteless parts of

    , but the book is meant more for educational purposes than entertainment. (The reader is not yukking it up following the adventures of Hannibal Lecter.) It demonstrates that evil walks this earth, and could be as close as next door.

  • Tiffany PSquared

    In this statistic-heavy book, Peter Vronsky researches the presence of serial killers throughout all of human history - from the Stone Age to present day and even the possibility of their proliferation in the not-so-distant future.

    Sons of Cain explores our natural survival instinct and its contribution to the killer instinct of those who have confessed to multiple murders. The eras of supposed werewolf/vampire slayings and witch huntings are also discussed. Occurrences of serial murder in histor

    In this statistic-heavy book, Peter Vronsky researches the presence of serial killers throughout all of human history - from the Stone Age to present day and even the possibility of their proliferation in the not-so-distant future.

    Sons of Cain explores our natural survival instinct and its contribution to the killer instinct of those who have confessed to multiple murders. The eras of supposed werewolf/vampire slayings and witch huntings are also discussed. Occurrences of serial murder in historic times is perhaps the most interesting and gruesome part of this book.

    Well-researched and meticulously footnoted and annotated, the book still seems to neglect female offenders in this category, although it is very inclusive of little-known male offenders that aren't often included in serial killer discussions.

    Sons of Cain was at times captivating (especially Vronsky's personal encounter with a noted serial killer) and at times gruesome and disheartening. There are graphic descriptions of individual crimes and discouraging statistics about the vast numbers of killers and the infinitely varied reasons that they become what they are.

    Recommended for readers who, like me, are obsessed with learning about why these psychopathic killers commit their horrific crimes, but don't expect any easy answers.

    ***Many thanks to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing Group, and the author for the opportunity to read and review a free ARC of this book.

    See my full review of this book and others at

  • HFK

    I read this through the night, and have mixed feelings. The info here is well researched, but the structure of the book is not in its best possible mode. The theory here is also a bit confusing in a sense that it seems to differ, get lost, and come back again either weaker or stronger depending on the subject.

    History here is presented easily, but some conclusions, and especially some comparisons, are quite weak. Comparing historical witch-hunts to current terrorists (in a favor of terrorists, of

    I read this through the night, and have mixed feelings. The info here is well researched, but the structure of the book is not in its best possible mode. The theory here is also a bit confusing in a sense that it seems to differ, get lost, and come back again either weaker or stronger depending on the subject.

    History here is presented easily, but some conclusions, and especially some comparisons, are quite weak. Comparing historical witch-hunts to current terrorists (in a favor of terrorists, of course) just shows a lack of understanding of the subject, but more so of what prevention means - as that prevention is the key why Vronsky is able to do comparison as fool as his was (he is not alone in this to be sure, it is rather trendy to not prevent and then be shocked when the shit hits the fan).

    Overall, if you fancy yourself some serial killer knowledge,

    is safe bet to make.

    ---

    So far we are mostly focusing on the U.S. serial killer base, although the author is Canadian. Where the info is, there the seeker goes.

    How many African-American enjoyment-serial killers can you name without the help of a Google? You can throw your answer onto the comment section below the review.

    ---

    I am rather amused by Vronsky's way of going through theories of why and what and how. A little bit of humor always works middle of an darker subject. I have to say that as much I enjoy this book, it might be difficult for a reader who needs to navigate this properly, it is not made easy. It will require some attention to keep all the pieces together.

    So, Vronsky is pondering on the subject of childhood trauma's and its effect on making serial killers, and why, at least seemingly, we had less serials in times when these childhood trauma's were part of majority of children's lives.

    I am happy to say that Vronsky picked up an great example in a "lesser-dead" (prostitutes, poor, minorities that do not arouse the interest of the media or authorities) chapter - Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton. This is an great (and sad) example how "lesser-deads" families and closest ones are treated, and how these victims are seen.

    There was 49 bodies to be found in his farm. "Lesser - deads".

    And what comes to the second quote: Sadly, I have to say that 74 percent of serial killers stay close to home, killing in the comfort of their own state. More likely a neighbor than a drifter.

    ---

    Vronsky argues that serial killing has been a taboo for most of our living time - long before serial killers became popular culture icons. That's probably true in a sense that we tend to understand better if a person kills for money, for gain, for revenge, for a cause of any kind... but for enjoyment. Which is why so many is interested of the how and why.

    Could it be that vampires and werewolves in myths and legends were people's way to describe serial killings of their time? Is what Vronsky suggests. Vampire legend is widely thought to be connected to the accidental burial of living (which happened quite often, I guess), but these myths are also truthful in describing disorganized (werewolves - messy, sudden and in full force) and organized (vampires - charming, intelligent, controlled) serial killers.

    Of course, myths about vampires and werewolves vary depending on the country, but then again, many serial killers are mix of both.

    Disorganized example: Jack the Ripper

    Organized example: Dennis Rader

    ---

    I will update this review as I read the book. I do not usually do this, but fuck it. Let's start with words that ring the truth-bell and set us in to the right mood.

    Today, according to the new guidelines, pretty much anyone qualifies as serial killer. It only requires two victims. After that, we have plenty of categories that would exhaust most readers, so there is no point of repeating them. But let's face it, when we talk about about serial killers, we mean people like Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and the likes.

    And among them, there is even more categories to go through, but most feared would most likely be sexual sadists - the ones who plan their actions and their main goal is to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible. The death is only an unavoidable outcome of their actions.

    To be sure - when I talk about serial killers, I am also focusing more on the cases mentioned above, that had the sexual aspect within, unless I am specifically mentioning other ways. I usually hold "the old three victims rule" as do most of my professors, but we also do recognize the ones that were in the making without victims, or the ones that only had one or two victims - but had the factors we are focusing in violent perpetrators.

    In the end, we have not reached satisfying conclusion of why and what makes a person a serial killer - everything if you want me to list all the theories - and how should we categorize them. What is the cooling off period. Who is a serial killer turned spree killer, who is serial spree killer and.... well, we could do this all night long, but ain't nobody got time for dat.

    focuses on the history of serial killers from a Western point of view. This is necessary distinction to do as there is not enough research or data to do other ways, but also cultural, religious and whatnot indicators and factors are not the same around the globe, so there is very little point on going that road before proper and costly research to present with it.

    Every country has their own serial killers, and for some reason, there is still people who assume that mostly white in Western countries posses this ability to murder like you mean it. But in reality, some years there is less white captured serial killers than there is non-whites. It mostly walks hand in hand with the demography of the country, albeit sometimes there is over-representation to be seen. Only difference is the media coverage - which can screw someone's perspective altogether if letting to.

    Gender gap is obvious, but most females that are, indeed, serial killers are not convicted as such, and often in the case of couples, women are still seen victims of manipulation rather than full-powered partners in crime. In that,

    , will not put its main focus onto females, which is okay, because Vronsky has written a whole book about female killers, too.

    This is a book heavy in research, data and sources, so it is not a best read for people who want it easy and light. It could also be that a good background knowledge would make this more readable to majority of readers that come into the subject with cold feet.

    Vronsky argues that serial killers are not made but unmade. He argues that in historical sense, starting from the stone age, majority of our time has been structured by 4 F's - fleeing, fighting, feeding and fucking. It was normal to kill, eat each others, rape - it was what we needed to do. He argues that

    survived because they developed a fear of the dead, which prevented us killing each others in such a major scale compared to the Neanderthals.

    In summary: we were designed to be serial killers, but along the way we programmed ourselves with guidance, parental love, safety and such things that has made serial killers to be the abnormality. In short - serial killers brain functions in our intended, primal ways.

    This, of course, is not a new theory, and it can also be controversial in that... You can go very, very long way with it if wanting to, and most professionals know that - and avoid the said route.

    It is not unusual to meet serial killers accidentally. They have been around since the start, and as this book will teach you - they have been on TV, many of them met high-position people and so on. I have superficially known one many years ago - a gay man who poisoned his older-husband, and couple of his friends on a timeline of many years. At the time I thought it was very weird and unusual, but I have learned quite a many things during the years to know it was not that at all.

    So, let's see where we end with this - who will be with me on this journey?

  • Jeanne-Ann

    A well-written book. I had worried that it might just be the usual sensationalism, but it was just what I had hoped for; a book delving into the human mind and what sometimes goes wrong. I've been interested in serial killers and their psychology and physiology since before university days. I took several courses on Social Deviance and Social Control and Penology and Corrections and have read many biographies of serial killers. But I have never been interested in salacious details; more interest

    A well-written book. I had worried that it might just be the usual sensationalism, but it was just what I had hoped for; a book delving into the human mind and what sometimes goes wrong. I've been interested in serial killers and their psychology and physiology since before university days. I took several courses on Social Deviance and Social Control and Penology and Corrections and have read many biographies of serial killers. But I have never been interested in salacious details; more interested in how their minds function. This review - from prehistoric times to the present - did not disappoint.

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