Killer: A Journal of Murder
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Killer: A Journal of Murder

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  161 ratings  ·  24 reviews
A detailed memoir and self-analysis by a mass murderer. Panzram was born in 1891 on a Minnesota farm and died in 1930 on the gallows at the U.S.Penitentiary, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Imprisoned for most of his life from the age of twelve and brutally punished, Panzram's keen insight into the arbitrary cruelty of his fellow human being is graphically illustrated with a lit...more
Hardcover, First Printing, 388 pages
Published 1970 by The Macmillan Company
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"In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry."

During the early 20th century a one man apocalypse (My motto is: Rob 'em all, rape 'em all, and kill 'em all.")roamed the world, setting fire to churches, barns, chicken coops, prairies, woods, and anything else flammable he encountered, r...more
Every now and then you come across something that changes your life – something that changes the way you view the world by either enlightenment or just exposure to something that you could never have imagined possible. This book did all of the above for me. I now walk through life differently.
Carl Panzram was a turn of the century serial killer. At first, reading the detailed letters he wrote describing in sardonic contrast to the horror that he was printing was repulsing enough to make me slam...more
No Remorse
"I wish you all had one neck and that I had my hands on it."

"I have no desire whatever to reform myself. My only desire is to reform people who try to reform me. And I believe that the only way to reform people is to kill 'em."

"From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee!" - Ahab (?)

"Naturally, I now love Jesus very much. Yes, I love him so damn much that I would like to crucify him all over again."

"The underworld code is very simple. It is: Never squeal. Don'...more
This book, in my opinion, is one of the finest books written about the life of a criminal and how the penal system shapes many of them. It's really an autobiography, written by Panzram, with interludes and commentary between chapters. Excellent.
Panzram was an utterly evil and violent man. He was also a powerful writer and his life story is a warning to a 21st Century bent on imprisoning as many as possible as brutally as possible.
Carl Panzam, a Minnesota farm boy grew up in incredible poverty on a worn out dirt farm near the town of Warren. He had no toys except for a shovel and hoe, never had a birthday, subject to vicious beatings at the hands of family members. He was sent to the 'reform' school, a type of institution little better than a prison where spending tax money on stone construction and heating systems and cafeteria meals were immensely, more important that helping troubled boys so that they can become useful...more
Mar 27, 2009 Budha rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: rapists and crazy people
Andy Nieradko
A disturbing yet totally fascinating book. I'd never heard of this true story, until I stumbled across a documentary released in 2011 called Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance. Brilliant, but yes, a very dark film. Panzram was a serial killer, and an unrepentant career criminal in the 1920's. He was an angry violent man made even more dangerous by years of serving time under merciless penal codes and the prison abuses of the early 20th century. He made one friend in his his bloody...more
Jared Della Rocca
Certainly a dark escapade through the mind of a thief/killer/sadist, but also a clear account of the direct impact of the corrections system upon a person. While Panzram was certainly a criminal before he ever entered into prison, his descent into darkness and depravity was hastened by what he encountered while in jail. Despite the changes to our corrections system over the last 80 years, Panzram makes clear that locking someone up and letting them rot during that sentence will never change a pe...more
Shane Lusher
OK, so I just like people who don't care about anything..even if they are serial killers. Don't ask me why. I think I would rather be a serial killer than a corporate lackey. Wait...I AM a corporate lackey.

Interesting and accurate perspective on social conditions around the turn of the 19th century and afterwards, left me understanding why killing people might have been one way out. Just in case I'm ever a suspect in any killing: it's not my way out, and neither is sodomizing men while robbing t...more
Just reread this book a couple of months ago. Just as disturbing and enjoyable as the first time in 2005.
Helle Quinn
"It was 2:00 AM before Lesser got a chance to slip into Isolation to pick up the first batch of writing. He stayed to converse for a few minutes, catching his first glimpse of a strong if uneducated mind. The young gard was suprised to learn that Panzram had read Schopenhauer and shared that philosopher´s pessimism about human affairs. Intrigued by the pages that rustled underneath his jacket, Lesser walked straight up the the jail barber shop, turned on the overhead light and sat down in the bi...more
If Tom Sawyer had struck out on the open road and ended up in juvenile detention instead of on a raft, he might have become Carl Panzram. Panzram's story is no less iconic and American for having sprung from the darker underbelly of American society.

"In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least...more
I am amazed at the many injustices this man has suffered. If it wasn't for Lesser and his innate desire to see the good in people, Panzrams story of the injustice and tortures he suffered from his early years in reform school then later as an adult at Oregon State Pen, Dannemora and Levenworth would be lost. In his own way Panzram explains how society created one of the most sadistic serial killers of the time. Unapologetic and yet honest about his about his actions Panzram offers a rare insight...more
Sarah Capstick
This is an exceptionally long book (or felt like it) which made me almost restless as I like to move to the next book fairy quickly.

That's why I knocked off a star, towards the first half it felt very repetitive as Panzrams early life was but by god what a read.

You will go through the emotions with this one and simply must read it. It has opened my eyes and changed a few stubborn theory's I had about certain behaviours and people.

I'm shocked to confess I shed a tear upon reading of Panzrams ha...more
I wasn't overly fond of the analysis that accompanied the letters most of the time, since I sort of wanted to be able to figure them out on my own. I think it was only necessary for the author(s) to give the Panzram's background information that wasn't included or referenced in the letters. I also think there was too much information on Lesser. Yes, he was a good advocate for correctional reform and was instrumental in Panzram telling his story, but I really didn't care about his personal life a...more
Rachel Harry
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I probably read this b/c Joe Coleman made a painting of Panzram. I don't like to totally emphasize the social in the shaping of humans but in some cases it seems fairly obvious that if a person's abused long enuf they'll become completely desensitized to abusing others. Such was the case w/ Carl Panzram.

Panzram, the murderer that this bk is about, is quoted as saying "In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings. I have no desire whatever to reform myself. My only desire is to reform people w...more
Alex Vincent
The excerpts from Panzram's letters and confession in this book are twisted, brilliant, hilarious and sad. The authors add some interesting cultural context and analysis of the history of criminology and penology (heh) of early 20th century America. The pace starts to grind down around the 3/4 mark, between Panzram's murder of the prison official in Leavenworth and his eventual conviction and execution, while he lives in relative comfort in his private cell waiting for trial. Just like everyone...more
Edwina Hall Callan
A detailed account of how a Monster was created.
Sad, horrifying, and sickening all at the same time.
Shannon Forsyth
It was all right. It got a little repetitive and the style was a bit dry but it was an interesting view into the early 1900's.
can somebody forward me this hunks #?!?!
Greg Cahl
Greg Cahl marked it as to-read
Sep 16, 2014
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Muhammad Yahya Cheema marked it as to-read
Sep 15, 2014
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Kathryn Moritz marked it as to-read
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Thomas E. Gaddis was an American author, most noted for his book Birdman of Alcatraz (1955), about convicted murderer Robert Stroud.
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“I have no desire whatever to reform myself. My only desire is to reform people who try to reform me. And I believe that the only way to reform people is to kill 'em.” 7 likes
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