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The Complete History of Jack the Ripper

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A comprehensive account of London's celebrated East End killer, revised and updated. The murders in London between 1888-91 attributed to Jack the Ripper constitute one of the most mysterious unsolved criminal cases. This story is the result of many years meticulous research. The author reassesses all the evidence and challenges everything we thought we knew about the Victo A comprehensive account of London's celebrated East End killer, revised and updated. The murders in London between 1888-91 attributed to Jack the Ripper constitute one of the most mysterious unsolved criminal cases. This story is the result of many years meticulous research. The author reassesses all the evidence and challenges everything we thought we knew about the Victorian serial killer and the vanished East End he terrorized.


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A comprehensive account of London's celebrated East End killer, revised and updated. The murders in London between 1888-91 attributed to Jack the Ripper constitute one of the most mysterious unsolved criminal cases. This story is the result of many years meticulous research. The author reassesses all the evidence and challenges everything we thought we knew about the Victo A comprehensive account of London's celebrated East End killer, revised and updated. The murders in London between 1888-91 attributed to Jack the Ripper constitute one of the most mysterious unsolved criminal cases. This story is the result of many years meticulous research. The author reassesses all the evidence and challenges everything we thought we knew about the Victorian serial killer and the vanished East End he terrorized.

30 review for The Complete History of Jack the Ripper

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jayson

    (A) 87% | Extraordinary Notes: A readable, in-depth, nightmarish account, it's no less than required reading for the knowledgeable and novice alike. (A) 87% | Extraordinary Notes: A readable, in-depth, nightmarish account, it's no less than required reading for the knowledgeable and novice alike.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont

    Is there anything new to say about Jack the Ripper and the infamous 1888 Whitechapel Murders? Well, yes, there is, and Philip Sugden has said it. Most Ripper books suffer from two principle weaknesses: first, they set out to make a case for a favoured and predetermined suspect, and second, they exist in a close, almost incestuous relationship one with the other. That is to say that they are secondary works based on secondary works, which means that when errors appear they are rarely questioned, Is there anything new to say about Jack the Ripper and the infamous 1888 Whitechapel Murders? Well, yes, there is, and Philip Sugden has said it. Most Ripper books suffer from two principle weaknesses: first, they set out to make a case for a favoured and predetermined suspect, and second, they exist in a close, almost incestuous relationship one with the other. That is to say that they are secondary works based on secondary works, which means that when errors appear they are rarely questioned, repeated to the point where fiction becomes fact and legend truth. Sugden is having none of this. He is an historian with the instincts of an historian. He is also, it might be said, a superb detective, sifting through the evidence in a careful and forensic manner. He takes nothing for granted, plowing through the mythology perpetuated by others and taking the source material as his point of departure. He sifts carefully through contemporary police reports and other primary documents, building up his case piece by piece. His arguments proceed on this basis and are mustered with considerable care. The other virtue of this book, at least so far as I am concerned, is that the author manages to humanise the victims, people who in most other accounts are depicted in lurid detail or merely as passing shadows. He makes one sympathise even with these poor and wretched girls. Above all he brings to life a London of long ago and the desperation of so many lives in the impoverished east-end of the city. Altogether it is a thorough, well-written and exhaustive account of the murders and the circumstances surrounding the murders rather than just another piece of vacuous speculation. Those coming to the subject for the first time will obtain no better guide. Even seasoned ‘Ripperologists’ are likely to uncover one or two surprises. In the end there is no definite conclusion because the evidence will simply not allow such closure. It is a mystery that will remain a mystery but one can only hope that Sugden’s magisterial work will help arrest the wilder flights of fancy. If you like good history, if you like a good detective story or if you simply like a good read this book is most definitely for you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

    If you are interested in Jack the Ripper but don't have the time to wade through all the material on him, just read this book. It's a comprehensive study of the Ripper murders and the best book written on the subject, in my opinion. Sugden is one of the few Ripperologists who is also a trained historian, and he puts his skills to good work here, dissecting the available evidence. Also, unlike many other Ripper writers, he's not trying to propogate one "solution" theory or another -- he simply pr If you are interested in Jack the Ripper but don't have the time to wade through all the material on him, just read this book. It's a comprehensive study of the Ripper murders and the best book written on the subject, in my opinion. Sugden is one of the few Ripperologists who is also a trained historian, and he puts his skills to good work here, dissecting the available evidence. Also, unlike many other Ripper writers, he's not trying to propogate one "solution" theory or another -- he simply presents the facts and lets the reader make up their mind. This is top-of-the-line history, as good as it gets.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Debra (having surgery will be off for a few days)

    This is one of the best books on the History the Whitechapel Murders that I have ever read. If you are interested in Jack the Ripper. This is the book for you. The author is a historian and you can tell how much research and knowledge went into this book. I also like that this book did not take a stance on who was the killer. So many Jack the Ripper books make a case for who the author "thinks" was the killer. I like that this book, instead, focuses on the Whitechapel Murders. It gives lots of d This is one of the best books on the History the Whitechapel Murders that I have ever read. If you are interested in Jack the Ripper. This is the book for you. The author is a historian and you can tell how much research and knowledge went into this book. I also like that this book did not take a stance on who was the killer. So many Jack the Ripper books make a case for who the author "thinks" was the killer. I like that this book, instead, focuses on the Whitechapel Murders. It gives lots of detailed information not only on the Murders themselves, the victims, the suspects but also on the Whitechapel district of London but the socio-economic times that the murders took place in. Many people are fascinated by Jack the Ripper. There are so many tv shows, movies, etc. about the serial killer. If people really want to know more about the case, I would sugget this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    A very complete, through look at what is actually known about Jack the Ripper and his victims. While the text does get rather dry in spots, it is very well written and escapes the sensationalism so prevalent in Ripperology. If you want to know the facts, this is a great book to find them in. For the longer review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/review/Philip... A very complete, through look at what is actually known about Jack the Ripper and his victims. While the text does get rather dry in spots, it is very well written and escapes the sensationalism so prevalent in Ripperology. If you want to know the facts, this is a great book to find them in. For the longer review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/review/Philip...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Medhat The Book Fanatic

    The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden was fascinating from start to finish. I am impressed and enthralled by the the author's exhaustive research before the book's release in 1994 and after its 2nd printing in 1995. His dedication to the truth was impressive and the amount of information that he detailed in every single chapter made me regard him as a credible source on the Jack the Ripper killings. His work as opposed to others by Ripperologists and so-called experts studied no The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden was fascinating from start to finish. I am impressed and enthralled by the the author's exhaustive research before the book's release in 1994 and after its 2nd printing in 1995. His dedication to the truth was impressive and the amount of information that he detailed in every single chapter made me regard him as a credible source on the Jack the Ripper killings. His work as opposed to others by Ripperologists and so-called experts studied not only the facts but also refuted the myths and sensationalized information that were spread by the press, the authorities, and the fake witnesses alike. Another impressive aspect of The Complete History of Jack the Ripper was the author's revealing information about the life of each victim and their background. So instead of writing them as one-dimensional individuals, solely defined by their brutal death, Philip Sugden wrote about them with respect and care, and equally revealed their flaws and merits. I must say that this was one of (if not THE Most) the goriest and graphic books that I've read ... and believe me when I tell you that I've read and watched my share of gore. Supported with autopsy reports and doctors' testimonies, we were completely zoomed in into the injuries and mutilations that the Ripper inflected on his victims. And lastly, this book studied each man who was suspected by some high-rank authorities. The author traced each known step and even revealed some of their unknown movements by using never-seen-before files. Unlike many researchers before him (and ones to come after this book's release), who claimed and keep claiming that they discovered the identity of one of history's most notorious murderers--Sugden refrained from giving assurances and always insisted that the killer's identity will never be known. This was why Philip Sugden was hesitant to completely rest his case against the most suspicious individual in the killings and made him give a verdict of "Not Proven".

  7. 5 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    First let me state the categories of people who should (please note the emphasis) study (not 'read') this book: - 1. Anybody who is interested in the any or all of the following: the Whitechapel killings, the subsequent frenzy, investigation into the murders, armchair investigations by "Mycroft" wannabes, and the literally literary witch-hunt being carried out over the past century & more to "unmask" the killer; 2. Anybody who is interested in understanding the socio-economic dynamics of the world First let me state the categories of people who should (please note the emphasis) study (not 'read') this book: - 1. Anybody who is interested in the any or all of the following: the Whitechapel killings, the subsequent frenzy, investigation into the murders, armchair investigations by "Mycroft" wannabes, and the literally literary witch-hunt being carried out over the past century & more to "unmask" the killer; 2. Anybody who is interested in understanding the socio-economic dynamics of the world's largest, richest, proudest and yet ruthlessly exploitative (of its own citizens, esp. the young and the women) city at that point of time when the nails were finally being hammered into the coffin of the 19th Century that had experienced the pinnacle of British glory; 3. Anybody who, after being overfed on the serial killers (Hannibal et.al) produced by the "hot" American novelists, actually wishes to know how it is like to be chasing a black cat in an enormous dark cavern while blindfolded; 4. Anybody who actually thinks that "the truth" might have been out there at some stage, but even with a centuries old "cold" case something can be done (unlike some trashy attempt sub-titled: "CASE CLOSED"). This book is not only accurate and free from all the popular & obscure misconceptions, it is also a living proof that history can be made more attractive than fiction while staying rigorously free from falsehoods. Recommended to everybody belonging to the aforementioned 4 categories as well as to all who, after reading some new adventure pitting Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper, start pondering over "what if.."-s.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I have seen this book hailed far and wide since it first appeared in 1995, and having just read the latest edition (Carroll & Graf/Robinson Publishing, 2002), I must side with those who call this the best book on the subject. Sugden has examined all of the available primary materials himself, uncovering some material that had hitherto been overlooked. As a result, his analysis of possible suspects, the number of murders that can be reasonably claimed for "Jack", and the reliability of several of I have seen this book hailed far and wide since it first appeared in 1995, and having just read the latest edition (Carroll & Graf/Robinson Publishing, 2002), I must side with those who call this the best book on the subject. Sugden has examined all of the available primary materials himself, uncovering some material that had hitherto been overlooked. As a result, his analysis of possible suspects, the number of murders that can be reasonably claimed for "Jack", and the reliability of several oft-quoted documents (including the contemporary letters to the police and the newspapers) are remarkably level-headed, his interpretation free of the kind of special-pleading and preconceptions that have marred so many other studies. When approaching common myths or misconceptions, he carefully compares the small amount of (frequently misquoted) evidence that gave rise to them against the phalanx of evidence that proves them to be untrue or unlikely. He also tells us as much about all of the persons involved - suspects, investigators, witnesses, and victims - as we could reasonably expect, and this quite frequently adds an element of pathos or irony to events that we were denied (or had come to mistrust) in other sources. This has the happy result of making many of the participants in these events take on the contours of real people rather than the paper cutouts from old pantomimes we have been offered all too often in the past. If a witness offered a different version of events in different interviews or later memoirs, Sugden offers the various versions, places them into context (why do the details vary and are they significant?), and then weighs the reliability of this witness's testimony as a whole, based on witness-reliability studies that have been available to psychologists, sociologists, and criminologists for decades. Refreshingly, he neither sensationalizes nor sentimentalizes, which means that his analysis of the Eddowes case, to cite one example, is the most thorough and most moving account I have read. None of the gruesome details are glossed over, thanks to Sugden's strict adherence to witness and pathologist's reports. All the sad ironies of Eddowes' appearance at this particular location, practically against all odds, are also underlined by a careful examination of police reports and accounts from her friends and family. The accumulation of detail has a relentless quality to it which gains more power from Sugden's clean and unmannered prose that it would from melodramatic underlining or sentiment. Short of a more fully illustrated version of this same book appearing in hardcover at a later date, I cannot imagine a better book on the subject.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    The most comprehensive and best documented account of the Ripper murders ever written. Such is written on the back of this book and I am inclined to agree fully with it's statement. Philip Sugden has done a tremendous justice to presenting the account of the infamous 1888 Whitechapel murders, not only setting the standard tome for the historical account but wading through the vast conspiracies, theories, and misconceptions many have put forth in regards to it. It contains no personal bias toward The most comprehensive and best documented account of the Ripper murders ever written. Such is written on the back of this book and I am inclined to agree fully with it's statement. Philip Sugden has done a tremendous justice to presenting the account of the infamous 1888 Whitechapel murders, not only setting the standard tome for the historical account but wading through the vast conspiracies, theories, and misconceptions many have put forth in regards to it. It contains no personal bias towards any Ripper suspects, and only wishes to present as much factual information to provide a refreshing perspective to the case. I found it also cleverly written and presented, flowing perfectly in prose. Sugden evaluates, reiterates, and debunks many common theories from a variety of sources, from firsthand accounts of Frederick Abberline, Charles Warren, witness statements, and journalistic ambitions, to secondhand perspectives of investigations in the many decades after. The personal lives of the victims are uncovered with such historical professionalism. His commitment to historical accuracy and basic historical common sense evaluation are second to none in regards to the case. My only complaint is the melancholy I felt as the last page was turned and the book ended. Kudos to Sugden for his dedication to historical commitment and accuracy in this case.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    I've always wanted to read a book which gave all the true informations about the Whitechapel murders just for the sake of it, and not for using them to sustain a highly unrealistic theory. This book is completely objective, it only tells the truth. It has everything one wants to know about Jack the Ripper, and I mean literally everything: it is absolutely objective and accurate and yet easy to follow and not boring at all. I liked how in the last part the author considered the most likely suspec I've always wanted to read a book which gave all the true informations about the Whitechapel murders just for the sake of it, and not for using them to sustain a highly unrealistic theory. This book is completely objective, it only tells the truth. It has everything one wants to know about Jack the Ripper, and I mean literally everything: it is absolutely objective and accurate and yet easy to follow and not boring at all. I liked how in the last part the author considered the most likely suspects and proved they aren't so likely after all, and then drew a killer profile which doesn't accuses one particular man, but at the same time is highly accurate and satisfyng. If only all the Ripper books were like this!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Tuck

    So many pot-boiler books have been written on the Ripper murders, it seems best to point out one that is actually worth reading. Sugden's book is unusual, inasmuch as he has no solution to offer and no murderer to finger. He does give convincing reasons why the three lead suspects for one reason or another don't fit the bill as the offender, and concedes that "there is every possibility that the man the Victorians called 'the master murderer of the age' was in reality a complete nobody whose name So many pot-boiler books have been written on the Ripper murders, it seems best to point out one that is actually worth reading. Sugden's book is unusual, inasmuch as he has no solution to offer and no murderer to finger. He does give convincing reasons why the three lead suspects for one reason or another don't fit the bill as the offender, and concedes that "there is every possibility that the man the Victorians called 'the master murderer of the age' was in reality a complete nobody whose name never found its way into the police file ... some sad social cripple who lived out his days in obscurity" (p. 468). What makes his book really interesting, I think, is the sheer amount of detail about Victorian London and about the lives of the victims, the police, and the suspects, before and after the murders. Indeed, the crimes themselves seem to be merely the anchors the rest of the book is organised around. My own speculation on the Ripper case, for what it's worth, is to wonder if there in fact was a "Jack the Ripper". There should be a tangible hypothesis that the murders were not connected, and that the Ripper was, in a sense, the product of a mass hysteria. Anyway, this is a first class review of the evidence and I recommend it in the highest terms.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maryse

    This book nearly exhausts everything history can give about Jack the Ripper and it pays off. There aren't any strange, over the top theories about who Ripper was, instead he presents historic archives as evidence, gives you a possible suspect list and lets you decide which to believe. There are no straight answers, but he does debate on some of the popular theories. It gets rather confusing though when you read other Ripper books or watch Ripper movies or documentaries because they all start con This book nearly exhausts everything history can give about Jack the Ripper and it pays off. There aren't any strange, over the top theories about who Ripper was, instead he presents historic archives as evidence, gives you a possible suspect list and lets you decide which to believe. There are no straight answers, but he does debate on some of the popular theories. It gets rather confusing though when you read other Ripper books or watch Ripper movies or documentaries because they all start contradicting each other with their theories. Sugden is right in pointing out that all the theories and evidence will not amount to anything conclusive. In the end, Ripper's identity will still remain a mystery.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    No idea why I rated this at three stars because this is the book that I always come back to when I want to read something about Jack the Ripper. It's amazing. Really, it gives you an overview of all the major murders during this period, including the two that occurred before the canonical five and the two that happened a bit later. It also goes into depth of analyzing various eyewitness accounts, assumptions that have cropped up, and even the biggest suspects. I highly recommend this one as a sta No idea why I rated this at three stars because this is the book that I always come back to when I want to read something about Jack the Ripper. It's amazing. Really, it gives you an overview of all the major murders during this period, including the two that occurred before the canonical five and the two that happened a bit later. It also goes into depth of analyzing various eyewitness accounts, assumptions that have cropped up, and even the biggest suspects. I highly recommend this one as a starting point if you want to know more about the crimes.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The most thorough and objective overview of the 1988 Whitechapel Murders that I've ever come across (and I've read a few...). The most thorough and objective overview of the 1988 Whitechapel Murders that I've ever come across (and I've read a few...).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Syeda Sumayya Tariq

    "The experts continue to disagree and the jury is still out there." This truly is the definitive account of jack the ripper, if you think you know it all, you are wrong. What I especially liked about this book is the dedication of the author to bring out the facts from a layer of fiction that has accumulated over this topic over the years. Detailed witness accounts, precise timings of the incidents, special attention to the victim backgrounds, accompanying controversies and their sources, calling "The experts continue to disagree and the jury is still out there." This truly is the definitive account of jack the ripper, if you think you know it all, you are wrong. What I especially liked about this book is the dedication of the author to bring out the facts from a layer of fiction that has accumulated over this topic over the years. Detailed witness accounts, precise timings of the incidents, special attention to the victim backgrounds, accompanying controversies and their sources, calling out other books on the same topic by name for distorting the facts, is what makes this book stand out from the rest. All these and yet it was never boring, infact it's a chilling page turner, and did not even leave a single question unanswered. The last part of the book deals with the suspects and as it went I was afraid the author would (almost did) pronounce "someone" DEFINITELY guilty, but thankfully it all ended with the doubts & proofs neatly laid, and rested on the readers to make their own decisions. "The minds of men are too frail a thread to hang history from."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    Quite a bit of information. No answers, of course. I had never delved into the women killed by the Ripper. I found this fascinating. The profile of suspects also interesting. Life in Whitechapel and some of the surrounding areas of London were also profiled. The book is very detailed and seems well researched. Worth the read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Layla Ashby

    Very good book full of information a very good read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Jane

    Not the best written, or indeed the best researched of all the Jack the Ripper books out there, but by no means the worst either. The text is a bit out of date now, and despite my having the 'new revised' edition, I didn't encounter any new theories. What it is, is a reasonably good summary of the case, with a fairly interesting look at four key suspects.The author appears to have done little primary research of his own, but does do a credible job of collating the research of others, and is excel Not the best written, or indeed the best researched of all the Jack the Ripper books out there, but by no means the worst either. The text is a bit out of date now, and despite my having the 'new revised' edition, I didn't encounter any new theories. What it is, is a reasonably good summary of the case, with a fairly interesting look at four key suspects.The author appears to have done little primary research of his own, but does do a credible job of collating the research of others, and is excellent at demonstrating how the 'facts' have been distorted over time to little resemble the truth. What I did like about this book, is that the author doesn't profess to "KNOW" the identity of the Ripper, and nor does he seek to vilify or promote one suspect over the other. While he does make a conclusion of 'it's was more likely to be this guy than those others' he fully admits that he cannot prove this, as there is no conclusive evidence one way or another.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rona

    If you want to know everything about Jack the Ripper, read this book. It is an in depth non biased account (which is refreshing to see for a change!) of the murders. Philip Sugden definitely knows his subject. I can honestly say that it's the best book I have read so far, on this unknown serial killer. If you are interested in any way about Jack the Ripper and want to know more, this is the book to read. If you want to know everything about Jack the Ripper, read this book. It is an in depth non biased account (which is refreshing to see for a change!) of the murders. Philip Sugden definitely knows his subject. I can honestly say that it's the best book I have read so far, on this unknown serial killer. If you are interested in any way about Jack the Ripper and want to know more, this is the book to read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    stephanie

    this is probably the best book i have ever read about jack the ripper (i have read a lot of books about jack the ripper)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anna From Gustine

    I really struggled with myself when it came to deciding on one star or two stars for this review, but I decided on one star because I just didn't like it. Let me explain. It's been a long time since I've read about Jack the Ripper and I wanted a refresher before I tried The Five. I'm fully aware of all the wacky theories out there so I did my own research to find a well-respected narrative based on the facts. I wasn't looking for an answer, just a historical narrative of the case. That's how I fo I really struggled with myself when it came to deciding on one star or two stars for this review, but I decided on one star because I just didn't like it. Let me explain. It's been a long time since I've read about Jack the Ripper and I wanted a refresher before I tried The Five. I'm fully aware of all the wacky theories out there so I did my own research to find a well-respected narrative based on the facts. I wasn't looking for an answer, just a historical narrative of the case. That's how I found Philip Sugden. As far as this book is concerned, the research is excellent and the analysis is reasonable, carefully considered and practical. If I had to point to a reliable book, I would point to this one for sure. But the organization was awful. The book starts with a long rebuttal of all those Ripperologists who get their facts wrong and come up with half-baked theories (this was pre-Patricia Cornwall's book or she would have been mentioned here for sure). I get it, but give me the narrative first THEN get to your analysis of the evidence and critiques. Stop going on tangents and distracting me! When the author gets to the narrative of the crimes, the sequence of events is very confusing. He juxtaposes so much information in a jumble, sometimes jumping ahead of himself, talking about victims before they were killed, interweaving suspects, police politics, external politics in tangents of which I struggled to keep track. And, then, suddenly, he's back to criticizing other researchers for their poor work and misrepresentations. This is a book best appreciated by Ripperologists or maybe those already well-versed with the details. The author is spot-on with his criticisms and his work is reliable. It just didn't always feel very coherent. Unfortunately, he appears to be a better researcher than a writer.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    When I was in London in October, Jack the Ripper's name came up a few times. I realized I didn't know much about him, and so I did what I always do - went looking for a book. After some research, it seemed this was the best place to start, as the author only uses historical sources (rather than other Ripper enthusiasts) and doesn't try to sell the reader his pet theory. And what can I say - that's definitely true. The book does go fairly into detail, so if you just want a quick and dirty summary When I was in London in October, Jack the Ripper's name came up a few times. I realized I didn't know much about him, and so I did what I always do - went looking for a book. After some research, it seemed this was the best place to start, as the author only uses historical sources (rather than other Ripper enthusiasts) and doesn't try to sell the reader his pet theory. And what can I say - that's definitely true. The book does go fairly into detail, so if you just want a quick and dirty summary of what happened in Whitechapel in 1888, you' re probably better of reading something else. I appreciated the details, however, as they gave a good idea of the atmosphere in London and especially the East End during the time. I also felt the portraits of the victims were well done, and the descriptions of the murder were matter-of-fact rather than delighting in the gruesomeness. Personally, I would have liked some more explanation why so few police files remain. Also, the book's relative age is obvious by some of the phrases he uses - "imbecile" and "idiot" and suchlike did make me wince at times. All in all though, I felt like this gave me a good general idea of what happened and of what we know (or don't know) about the case. And it was quite gripping, too. I'm glad I came across it and can add my voice to the recommendations.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Suzannah

    ZOUNDS what a demented and sadistic person. Sugden's book seemed like being the most level-headed and factual book on the subject, and indeed I was largely impressed with his fidelity to the historically verifiable facts and his ability to sift through rumours ancient and modern to pinpoint trustworthy evidence. That said, it was a little puzzling that he repeatedly insisted that ALL the victims were DEFINITELY prostitutes in the face of explicit evidence otherwise given at some of the inquests an ZOUNDS what a demented and sadistic person. Sugden's book seemed like being the most level-headed and factual book on the subject, and indeed I was largely impressed with his fidelity to the historically verifiable facts and his ability to sift through rumours ancient and modern to pinpoint trustworthy evidence. That said, it was a little puzzling that he repeatedly insisted that ALL the victims were DEFINITELY prostitutes in the face of explicit evidence otherwise given at some of the inquests and the fact that for many of them, the most obvious explanation for their being out on the streets at night was that they were homeless since they did not have the money to pay for a bed! Still, most of the book showed a better handle on the evidence than this. Extremely interesting.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lynda

    Comprehensive and thorough.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandeep Ellawala

    If I do not write in length, anything I write about this book would do unjust to how good and detailed it is. Therefore I would simply say that if you are fascinated as I am of the atrocities that took place in the East London in the Autumn of 1888, and the whole mystery behind Jack the Ripper, this book is a must have. It covers a lot of information based on facts than fantasies woven into this mystery over time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holly (The GrimDragon)

    The Victorian murderer who slew a handful of women in London's East End has become a worldwide symbol of terror, his fame celebrated in story and song, on the stage and on film, in art and in opera, his tale told in languages as diverse as English and Russian, Spanish and Swedish, German and Japanese. Robert Bloch, the American author of Psycho, has said that Jack the Ripper belongs to the world as surely as Shakespeare. It is not an undue exaggeration. We've all heard of Jack the Ripper. I becam The Victorian murderer who slew a handful of women in London's East End has become a worldwide symbol of terror, his fame celebrated in story and song, on the stage and on film, in art and in opera, his tale told in languages as diverse as English and Russian, Spanish and Swedish, German and Japanese. Robert Bloch, the American author of Psycho, has said that Jack the Ripper belongs to the world as surely as Shakespeare. It is not an undue exaggeration. We've all heard of Jack the Ripper. I became fascinated with the story in middle school. The fact that his identity has never been solved after all of these years is intriguing. Why? Why is this particular case so hard to crack? What was the motive behind these murders? His crimes are now considered the stuff of legend. And there is every possibility that the man the Victorians called 'the master murderer of the age' was in reality a complete nobody whose name never found its way into the police file... some sad social cripple who lived out his days in obscurity, his true identity a secret now known only to the dead. Sugden really brings these victims to life. That was the big difference from other Ripper books I have read. They aren't just a case study; names in a report; their profession. They were real women that were down on their luck, sure. They may not have had the most innocent of professions, but they were human beings. He also mentions the other tragedies that were a domino effect due to fear & paranoia. The people that took their own lives, were committed to insane asylums & even a case where a young woman was described as having died from shock after a Ripper practical joke. The Jack the Ripper/Leather Apron/Whitechapel Murderer story is full of myth; factual errors; unreliable witnesses; false leads; hoaxes; sloppy journalism; lack of evidence -- truly a classic case of whodunnit! This is a mystery that will forever remain a mystery. Most likely, there will never be closure. That is part of the appeal -- it will be something that will continue to exist & analyzed many more times. More than any other factor it was the failure of the police to catch him that led to our present fascination with the case. Myth feeds on the gaps in history. And in the case of the Ripper's identity it is less a gap than a yawning pit into which Ripperologists, novelists and film-makers can toss any theory they like as long as they are not required to substantiate it. I have read much on this subject over the years & I feel this is the most comprehensive. If you are interested in Jack the Ripper, this is the book I would recommend above any other!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Academic in detail and intent yet sadly, also in style. This is a "complete history" that barely recreates the milieu of Victorian London. The author instead immerses hapless readers in competing theories of Jack the Ripper's identity, which means that you will read a lot about other strange men who write about Jack the Ripper but little about Jack the Ripper himself. Philip Sugden does a poor job of balancing narrative with raw data and interpretation. Too often, minor details build into larger Academic in detail and intent yet sadly, also in style. This is a "complete history" that barely recreates the milieu of Victorian London. The author instead immerses hapless readers in competing theories of Jack the Ripper's identity, which means that you will read a lot about other strange men who write about Jack the Ripper but little about Jack the Ripper himself. Philip Sugden does a poor job of balancing narrative with raw data and interpretation. Too often, minor details build into larger and larger paragraphs of names, dates and places that are devoid of social and geographical context. A paragraph that begins with a crime scene ends with a description of the policeman's mustache and belt. Ever wonder what an elderly Englishman with Asperger's Syndrome thinks about? Read this book. Technical problems are in abundance. Scenes that should be suspenseful are sluggish and unfocused. After setting up the first murder, the author stunts his momentum by contemplating inessential details of the victim's biography (her grandparents, her past employment, the name of her first husband, etc). Right when you're expecting knives and blood, you get census data. Sugden may be an expert on the Ripper, but he's too often the kind of expert who earns cred by finding the weak links in the theories of others and citing extraneous facts that previous authors "missed" (i.e. discarded due to their irrelevance). This doesn't offer new insight into the case but a rehashing of events with a greater emphasis on figures that everyone else rightly overlooked. I know this sounds like a glib comment, but it's kind of like watching a special edition of Star Wars that differs from the original only because it has 20 extra minutes of Chewbacca footage. Same story, more inessential info. The author does it all in an informal, roundabout voice that reeks of builders tea and burnt scones. It reads less like history than a transcription of your English uncle's drunken if informed commentary on the Ripper case over Christmas dinner. Watch a documentary instead.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I visited London recently and did a Jack the Ripper tour. The guide gave the basic historical facts but didn't provide a lot of explanation or analysis, so I wanted to find a comprehensive nonfiction work. Enter Goodreads! Out of the bewildering array of Jack the Ripper fiction and non-fiction listed on here, I settled on this book as it didn't seem to focus so much on all the myths and conspiracy theories that have arisen. After finishing it, I can say that it is indeed a straightforward, fact- I visited London recently and did a Jack the Ripper tour. The guide gave the basic historical facts but didn't provide a lot of explanation or analysis, so I wanted to find a comprehensive nonfiction work. Enter Goodreads! Out of the bewildering array of Jack the Ripper fiction and non-fiction listed on here, I settled on this book as it didn't seem to focus so much on all the myths and conspiracy theories that have arisen. After finishing it, I can say that it is indeed a straightforward, fact-based accounting of the entire Ripper case. The author did reference other works that have been published, but he based the details of his accounting of the case on the original evidence (police reports, post-mortem reports, witness interviews, etc.) as it survives today. I also appreciated how the author examines a lot of myths that have arisen around this notorious murder case, myths that became engrained in the public record even at the time of the murders (like the idea that the Ripper carried a black bag). The author breaks down these myths and addresses where they most likely came from, as well as numerous discrepancies in testimonies, police memoirs, etc. that have also led to the spread of false information regarding the case. Even though I haven't read other works on Jack the Ripper (and don't plan to), I would recommend this one to anyone wanting a factual accounting of the case that remains separate from all the conspiracy theories floating around (such as the idea that the Ripper was Queen Victoria herself...um, what?). It occasionally gets repetitive and drags in some places, but the author makes his arguments well and provides substantial facts to back them up.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I found this book to be very informative! Everything, literally everything, that you would ever care to know (and in some cases, not know) about the Whitechapel murders and their subsequent investigations. Sugden has put a lot of time and effort into researching this dark period of Victorian England history and it shows. I loved that Sugden included the biographies of each of the five canonical murders, as well as the biographies of three more women who may or may not have been victims of Jack th I found this book to be very informative! Everything, literally everything, that you would ever care to know (and in some cases, not know) about the Whitechapel murders and their subsequent investigations. Sugden has put a lot of time and effort into researching this dark period of Victorian England history and it shows. I loved that Sugden included the biographies of each of the five canonical murders, as well as the biographies of three more women who may or may not have been victims of Jack the Ripper. To him, they were women who had lived, not just whores. He also included bigraphies of the three leading murder suspects, which was fascinating, to me. In some ways, after reading about the three men, one can see how investigators could have come to their conclusions, and in some ways, you wonder how in the heck they ever thought to suspect these men. The pictures included are an added bonus to the read and one, in particular, is especially gruesome! Sugden's work sheds a lot of light on this century+ mystery and I can now say I am more keen than ever to find out who the Ripper really was! My only problem, and this is a teensy problem, is that Sugden can be very long-winded at times. Also, in some instances it seemed as if the wrong word was being used, or words were being left out. Still, none of this 'complaints' are such a big deal that I need to give it 4 stars instead of 5. It was a good read, plain and simple.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I have read and reviewed this book before, but's one of the best general-purpose introductions to the Ripper murders out there and worth a re-read. It's a little dated by now, originally published in 1994, but I'd definitely recommend it still. It doesn't try to push a particular angle or suspect; the author doesn't have a pet theory involving disgraced royalty, Freemason conspiracies, deranged physicians or the like - he just summarises the material available on the case, relies on written reco I have read and reviewed this book before, but's one of the best general-purpose introductions to the Ripper murders out there and worth a re-read. It's a little dated by now, originally published in 1994, but I'd definitely recommend it still. It doesn't try to push a particular angle or suspect; the author doesn't have a pet theory involving disgraced royalty, Freemason conspiracies, deranged physicians or the like - he just summarises the material available on the case, relies on written records and not wild guesswork, and weighs the evidence available. There was something in the news recently about potential DNA evidence linking Aaron Kosminski to the crimes, but I hear that has been fairly savaged, and given Sugden's verdict on Kosminski in this book I still doubt it was him. The George Chapman argument is possibly the most convincing, but even there the most one could argue is 'not proven'. Because the truth is that at this remove it's impossible to be able to say with any degree of certainty who Jack the Ripper might have been. If the police at the time had no clue, unless new concrete evidence that they didn't have access to turns up (and after 100+ years of this level of interest such a discovery is unlikely) with every passing year the possibility of solving the case becomes more and more remote.

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