Read Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present by Peter Vronsky Online

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, 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 murd...

Title : Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780425276976
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 432 pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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

  • Sasha

    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 ...more

  • 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 ...more

  • 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

  • Jodi

    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. ...more

  • Melise

    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

  • 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

    hybristophilia (a desire in a female to partner with a male serial killer, one of the few female paraphilias)

    While in the past serial killers were thought to be predominantly white males, today Eric Hickey’s survey shows that from 2004 to 2011, 57 percent of all serial killers were African-Americans; while the Radford/FGCU Serial Killer Database indicates that in the 2010s, almost 60 percent of serial killers are African-Americans (this even though African-Americans make up only 13.2 percent of the American population).

    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.


    ... Few had time for a “hobby” like sexual serial killing; everyone was too busy struggling not to die...

    ...more than five hundred unsolved homicides linked to interstate freeways, appeared to confirm this sense of the US highway system “circulating” serial killers like bad blood in the body of the American nation...

    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.

    Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present 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, Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present, 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 Homo Sapiens 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? ...more

  • Natalie

    One of the better serial killer histories I’ve read, with details I’d never heard, references to books and media I now want to check out, and interesting new theories. I don’t necessarily agree with all of Vronsky’s ideas, but nothing here is the same old regurgitated stuff ripped from other books. I also appreciate that Vronsky managed not to moralize when discussing case histories, which few other true crime writers can do.

    I’m pretty deeply active in the SK/true crime community, so it was a tr

  • 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