Sons of Cain
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, ghouls and witches or, later, Hitchcockian psychos.In Sons of Cain--a book that fills the gap between dry academic studies and sensationalized true crime--investigative historian Peter Vronsky examines our understanding of serial killing from its prehistoric anthropological evolutionary dimensions in the pre-civilization era (c. 15,000 BC) to today. Delving further back into human history and deeper into the human psyche than Serial Killers--Vronsky's 2004 book, which has been called "the definitive history of the phenomenon of serial murder"--he focuses strictly on sexual serial killers: thrill killers who engage in murder, rape, torture, cannibalism and necrophilia, as opposed to for-profit serial killers, including hit men, or "political" serial killers, like terrorists or genocidal murderers.These sexual serial killers differ from all other serial killers in their motives and their foundations. They are uniquely human and--as popular culture has demonstrated--uniquely fascinating.

Sons of Cain Details

TitleSons of Cain
Author
ReleaseAug 14th, 2018
PublisherBerkley
ISBN-139780425276976
Rating
GenreCrime, True Crime, Nonfiction, History, Mystery

Sons of Cain Review

  • Valerity (Val)
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come
  • Jodi
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book thru the Goodreads Giveaway - it wasn't my usual genre of reading material, but, sounded intriguing from the description. While there were a few shudder inducing details, for the most part, it was a very well researched and written analysis of serial killings throughout history. I had never looked at the medieval witch-hunts or the atrocities of World War II as examples of serial killers gone amok, but, reading this book, that assessment isn't far off the mark. Mr. I received an ARC of this book thru the Goodreads Giveaway - it wasn't my usual genre of reading material, but, sounded intriguing from the description. While there were a few shudder inducing details, for the most part, it was a very well researched and written analysis of serial killings throughout history. I had never looked at the medieval witch-hunts or the atrocities of World War II as examples of serial killers gone amok, but, reading this book, that assessment isn't far off the mark. Mr. Vronksy has obviously put a great deal of time into statistical research, and has written two other books about more recent/modern serial killers, and, apparently, from the last chapter, may have another book to come. His own casual "brushes" with 3 modern killers made me wonder, in my own life, if I, perhaps, have come into contact with someone who isn't what they seem to be...a chilling thought, and one that may keep me awake a little longer, tonight...listening....
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  • stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    i got a copy of this from berkley pub and goodreads on a giveaway, which is awesome awesome awesome! many thanks to all of the kind humans who make things like this possible. this is a surprisingly entertaining read for how history/sciency/technical it gets in some places. and while the way-back-history doesn't get too many pages, it still adds interesting context for, if nothing else, how these types of killers have been regarded/thought of by society centuries ago. and there are plenty of case i got a copy of this from berkley pub and goodreads on a giveaway, which is awesome awesome awesome! many thanks to all of the kind humans who make things like this possible. this is a surprisingly entertaining read for how history/sciency/technical it gets in some places. and while the way-back-history doesn't get too many pages, it still adds interesting context for, if nothing else, how these types of killers have been regarded/thought of by society centuries ago. and there are plenty of case studies from different historical periods to keep things in perspective and kind of drive home the 'the more things change the more they stay the same' idea. there's a really interesting theory about the 'golden age' of serial killers, and why there were so, so many between the '70s and '90s...no spoilers, but it's fascinating. putting serial killers into such a large historical, societal, cultural framework just adds a next-level dimension to the creepy/compelling factor. i really loved this.
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  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    Sons of Cain gives the reader a comprehensive look at the history of serial killers - the crimes, criminals, and methods used to track them down. Vronsky's complete record of serial killers - including ancient and prehistoric killers - and his ideas make this a very thought provoking read. I would recommend this to anyone that is interested in true crime.I received an ARC of this book through Goodreads Giveaways.
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  • Sasha
    January 1, 1970
    First I would like to state that I received this book through the Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity and honor in being able to read this book. When I received this book I began reading it at once. I really enjoy the authors writing style, the author pulls you into the book from the very beginning and makes it so you don't want to put the book down. It kept me on the edge of my seat reading from cover to cover. Thi First I would like to state that I received this book through the Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity and honor in being able to read this book. When I received this book I began reading it at once. I really enjoy the authors writing style, the author pulls you into the book from the very beginning and makes it so you don't want to put the book down. It kept me on the edge of my seat reading from cover to cover. This book was a very interesting read. The author kept you interested from the first chapter to the very last. It pulls you in quickly and keeps you hooked wanting to read and find out what is happening. I would recommend this to anyone. This was a very good book .
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  • Jacob
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present by Peter Vronsky, continues his studies in serial killers, marking his third work on this subject. This particularly book focuses on "sexual serial killers from the stone age to the present." Vronky does this by dividing the book into three sections. The first, details the evolution of the serial killer from the early days of humanity. Section II explores I received a free copy of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway. Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present by Peter Vronsky, continues his studies in serial killers, marking his third work on this subject. This particularly book focuses on "sexual serial killers from the stone age to the present." Vronky does this by dividing the book into three sections. The first, details the evolution of the serial killer from the early days of humanity. Section II explores them from modernity through to right before Jack the Ripper. The final section explores serial killers from Jack the Ripper to the present day. Highly detailed in both examples and statistics, this book is very informative and would appeal to any true crime reader. However, the title as a whole should have an asterisks after it as this study is based primarily on Western Europe and the United States. It begs the question, are serial killers primarily a Western phenomenon? Or just a lack of readily, or easily accessible records? Only for a few pages do I recall mention of nations outside of the US or Europe (Page 279-280). Vronsky used the Radford University Serial Killer Database numeric extensively, but as he acknowledges, their numbers outside of the US for the 1900-1950 range are "likely very low" due in part to the inaccessibility of un-digitzed newspapers. While so much of this work is reliant on newspapers and the surviving public records it seems a less vague title would better reflect the content. Having little background in anthropology or psychology I found the first 70 pages very difficult to read through as they were focused on early man and the reptilian brain, definitions of serial killers and psychologically classifications. Once one gets past this section the reading is much easier as it has a somewhat better focus. Vronsky unfortunately constantly jumps back and forth in time showing his extensive knowledge of serial killers by stating a historic case and then naming or alluding to a modern killer with similar practices. These types of comments seem more appropriate for footnotes, which hopefully the published edition will have.
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  • Cristina
    January 1, 1970
    “Justice withers, prison corrupts, and society gets the criminal it deserves.” - Lacassagne Putting to rest the idea that serial killings were an epidemic of the 20th century, historian Peter Vronsky sets out to explore the ancient and not-so-ancient history of pattern murderers across (mostly Western) societies. What I found most interesting is the argument that these crimes hold a mirror to the society and cultural conflicts of their time.Murder, necrophilia, or cannibalism may not have been s “Justice withers, prison corrupts, and society gets the criminal it deserves.” - Lacassagne Putting to rest the idea that serial killings were an epidemic of the 20th century, historian Peter Vronsky sets out to explore the ancient and not-so-ancient history of pattern murderers across (mostly Western) societies. What I found most interesting is the argument that these crimes hold a mirror to the society and cultural conflicts of their time.Murder, necrophilia, or cannibalism may not have been seen as ethical dilemmas until primitive homo sapiens began to develop a fear or reverence of death. But once cultural taboos were in place, the fantasy and delusions of serial murderers manifest as a reflection of their time. For instance in Medieval Europe, these types of murders were often attributed to supernatural causes such as werewolves, vampires or demonic possession. The pathologically cruel were welcomed into the folds of Inquisitions and witch hunts. Then, the Industrial Age and destabilization of the rural workforce incited an slew of murders targeting servants and working girls etc. This book was a fascinating recap of Western History through the observed patterns of serial murder. From World Wars to Civil Rights Movements to technological advancements, each generational wave brings forth new varieties of and new explanations for these human monsters. But the song remains the same... This book relies heavily on historical research and mountains of statistics. While definitely a strength, it should still be consumed critically. Vronsky is typically forthright in identifying sources and defining variables, but there are times I found myself paging through the References and left feeling a bit misled by the phrasing of his interpretation. This doesn't detract from the entertainment of the book overall, but I'd be cautious before citing any hypotheses as fact. That said, he does a fantastic job of name-dropping other books on the subject giving the reader plenty of opportunity to read up on it themselves!// I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Melise Gerber
    January 1, 1970
    As a lover of horror novels, I have read my fair share of books about serial killers--both fiction and non-fiction. However, this is the first scholarly study that I have ever read about the serial killer phenomenon. I found it well-written, and quite interesting. Vronsky provides an overview of current thinking about what defines a serial killer, and then brings that categorization to a review of history, describing events throughout human history that can be defined as examples of serial killi As a lover of horror novels, I have read my fair share of books about serial killers--both fiction and non-fiction. However, this is the first scholarly study that I have ever read about the serial killer phenomenon. I found it well-written, and quite interesting. Vronsky provides an overview of current thinking about what defines a serial killer, and then brings that categorization to a review of history, describing events throughout human history that can be defined as examples of serial killings. I found his arguments well-expressed and convincing, and since finishing the book, I have continued to think about other historical events and whether they might not also fit within the context that he has outlined as indicating the work of serial killers (the Spanish Inquisition stands out particularly in my mind).Towards the end of the book, he examines what seems to have been a spike of serial killings that occurred from the 1970s to the early 1990s. He argues that this group of killers was growing up in the years just after World War II, and posits emotional and societal changes that arose out of the experience of that war may have had a strong impact on the children of people who lived through it, and thus indirectly led to the spike occurring when it did. I found his discussion of the popularity of pulp magazines in the "True Crime Detective" genre particularly interesting, as it reminded me quite a bit of Steven King's references to the influence similar magazines had on his development as a horror author. I wonder whether the dark emotions and desires that Vronsky believes might have played a role in shaping the minds of nascent serial killers might not in some way be related to their role in shaping young King's interest in horror.I received an advanced reading copy from Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley. Thanks!
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  • Rob
    January 1, 1970
    This book about the history of serial killers includes not only descriptions of the life and crimes of many multiple killers over the centuries, but also many theories as to how serial killers developed. Some points were well written with good observations of the historical data, but other parts of the book seemed to be tedious, repetitive in examples, or the analysis appeared to be strained. Overall, it was an average read compared to other books I've read on the same topic.(This book was a fre This book about the history of serial killers includes not only descriptions of the life and crimes of many multiple killers over the centuries, but also many theories as to how serial killers developed. Some points were well written with good observations of the historical data, but other parts of the book seemed to be tedious, repetitive in examples, or the analysis appeared to be strained. Overall, it was an average read compared to other books I've read on the same topic.(This book was a free advanced reader copy through Goodreads' Giveaway.)
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  • Erica Kelley
    January 1, 1970
    Peter Vronsky has a way of writing what is essentially an encyclopedia of serial killers in an entertaining way that lay people can understand. His tone is conversational and the topics are interesting and timely.
  • Kyle
    January 1, 1970
    I received ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. A good exploration of the makeup and characteristics of a serial killer. The book starts a bit slow, but there is plenty of quality information available throughout the book.
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  • R.J.
    January 1, 1970
    RTC
  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    Quality read! Covers not only history but provides a fascinating analysis of the phenomena in the second half of the book.
  • Peter Vronsky
    January 1, 1970
  • Cristina
    January 1, 1970
    “Justice withers, prison corrupts, and society gets the criminal it deserves.” - LacassagnePutting to rest the idea that serial killings were an epidemic of the 20th century, historian Peter Vronsky sets out to explore the ancient and not-so-ancient history of pattern murderers across (mostly Western) societies. What I found most interesting is the argument that these crimes hold a mirror to the society and cultural conflicts of their time.Murder, necrophilia, or cannibalism may not have been se “Justice withers, prison corrupts, and society gets the criminal it deserves.” - LacassagnePutting to rest the idea that serial killings were an epidemic of the 20th century, historian Peter Vronsky sets out to explore the ancient and not-so-ancient history of pattern murderers across (mostly Western) societies. What I found most interesting is the argument that these crimes hold a mirror to the society and cultural conflicts of their time.Murder, necrophilia, or cannibalism may not have been seen as ethical dilemmas until primitive homo sapiens began to develop a fear or reverence of death. But once cultural taboos were in place, the fantasy and delusions of serial murderers manifest as a reflection of their time. For instance in Medieval Europe, these types of murders were often attributed to supernatural causes such as werewolves, vampires or demonic possession. The pathologically cruel were welcomed into the folds of Inquisitions and witch hunts. Then, the Industrial Age and destabilization of the rural workforce incited an slew of murders targeting servants and working girls etc. This book was a fascinating recap of Western History through the observed patterns of serial murder. From World Wars to Civil Rights Movements to technological advancements, each generational wave brings forth new varieties of and new explanations for these human monsters. But the song remains the same... This book relies heavily on historical research and mountains of statistics. While definitely a strength, it should still be consumed critically. Vronsky is typically forthright in identifying sources and defining variables, but there are times I found myself paging through the References and left feeling a bit misled by the phrasing of his interpretation. This doesn't detract from the entertainment of the book overall, but I'd be cautious before citing a hypotheses as fact. That said, he does a fantastic job of name-dropping other books on the subject giving the reader plenty of opportunity to read up on it themselves!
    more
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