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Publisher's Summary

Fans of Mindhunter and true crime podcasts will devour these chilling stories of serial killers from the American "Golden Age" (1950-2000).

With books like Serial Killers, Female Serial Killers and Sons of Cain, Peter Vronsky has established himself as the foremost expert on the history of serial killers.  In this first definitive history of the "Golden Age" of American serial murder, when the number and body count of serial killers exploded, Vronsky tells the stories of the most unusual and prominent serial killings from the 1950s to the early 21st century. From Ted Bundy to the Golden State Killer, our fascination with these classic serial killers seems to grow by the day. American Serial Killers gives true crime junkies what they crave, with both perennial favorites (Ed Kemper, Jeffrey Dahmer) and lesser-known cases (Melvin Rees, Harvey Glatman).

©2020 Peter Vronsky (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“[A] gripping survey of 20th century serial killers.... Smooth prose helps keep the pages turning. True crime fans with strong stomachs will want to check this one out.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Renowned true crime author Vronksy has composed an exhaustive history of these epidemic years, recounting the atrocities of heavy-hitters like Ted Bundy and introducing readers to more obscure murderers like Melvin Rees.... Thoroughly researched and highly detailed, Vronsky’s analysis of the “golden age” of serial killers is an essential true crime reference work.” (Booklist)

What listeners say about American Serial Killers

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Great listen!!!

This is one of the better audiobooks I own. It’s has details that kept me tuned in from beginning to end!!!if you like books in serial killers this is a must listen!!!

9 people found this helpful

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Breathtakingly precise and informative!

Peter Vronsky is an exceptional writer, but this installment was truly spectacular. Definitely adding this to my top five !

7 people found this helpful

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Without a doubt a great read

Peter Vronsky is definitely one of the best. This book takes you through the modern age of serial killers with historical background like no other. Easy to listen to due in part of the fantastic narration and the author’s ability to weave a story with facts, data and images of American social influences on criminal behavior. He lays out a unique and intriguing possibilities as to why America saw such a steady and frightening rise in the number of serial killers from the 40’ through the 80’s

If you read books on serial killers do not leave this one out.

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badass

awesome book was easy to read and I couldn't wait to read more. The opinion and out look of this author is spot on. brilliant!

4 people found this helpful

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More of a catalog than anything else

The author started with an interesting premise but spent more time detailing the crimes of certain serial killers than detailing evidence to support his premise (or to justify his conclusion). It felt like a literature review of serial killers rather than a serious inquest into why the 50s-00s were a heyday for American serial killers. The author also seems to have a derisive attitude toward other true crime writers, law enforcement, and especially VICAP, that was off-putting and several statements made me feel like this book was a bit self-indulgent on the part of the author. This was a book that would have been better as an article, if the article had kept to the main premise and provided strong evidence to support the general statements made about “golden age” serial killers.

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Well done Rene

This was a very good all encompassing story about some of the lives we are curious about the why they killed. Thoroughly enjoyed.

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so BLOODY BORING

how anyone can take a topic as fascinating as serial killers and turn it into a snooze fest is beyond me.
He is obsessed magazines and gives a detailed history. Of magazines. Oh and then there's the part where he lists, by name, every single serial killer over 3 decades. so it's 10 minutes of the narrator just reading names and the year they were born.
There's about 15 minutes of interesting content, but the book is almost 20 hours long. Do the math.

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Going to listen to Vronsky’s other books now…

This is way more than a retelling of famous crimes - he goes into the sociological factors of what influences killers. Well done and informative.

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Faux academics

Well rounded, balanced research is lacking in this book. He makes gross generalizations and doesn’t provide evidence other than the most inductive leaps.

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Fascinating deep-dives

This was the first of Vronsky's books I read and definitely made the biggest impression on me. The length and even-tempered narrator have tempted me to use this as a sleeping book (I was awake for my first reading, of course!), but unfortunately that is out--it gave me some pretty unsettling dreams!

Across Vronsky's titles I did notice a fair amount of repetition, such as similar anecdotes and turns of phrase, but I don't count these minor sins against him. One of his strongest talking points is about the failures of ViCAP and the exaggerated testimonies which led to the program being greenlit. I like that Vronsky is on the whole an objective writer, and although his condemnation of ViCAP is strong at times, I sense this is because it was a good idea wasted, or at the very least poorly enacted. In his books, John Douglas gives a somewhat milder opinion of ViCAP, but agrees on its wasted potential. I get the sense that the exaggerated figures given by Ann Rule and John Walsh were frustrating to those whose professional lives are dedicated to catching and describing criminals.

This book held a lot of old and new information for me, so I certainly recommend it as a way to introduce yourself to some of history's lesser-known killers as well as enjoy a new take on some of the more infamous. If you like this one, you can't go wrong with some other Vronsky titles like Serial Killers and Sons of Cain.