Book info

The Complete Jack The Ripper (2009)

The Complete Jack the Ripper (2009)
Rating
3.91 of 5 Votes: 5
ISBN
0140173951 (ISBN13: 9780140173956)
languge
English
publisher
penguin books, limited (uk)
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The Complete Jack The Ripper (2009)
The Complete Jack The Ripper (2009)

About book: I'm not really big into true crime the way that my mother is. She'll devour the stuff, whether the written word, a news report, or one of the many true crime shows on cable. I kinda pick at it here and there--I'll watch the shows but not so much with the books. But when this tome, said to be one of the most comprehensive on Jack the Ripper, came to my notice, I decided to give it a whirl. The results were quite impressive.Jack the Ripper is one of those cases that, despite the fact that there have been far bloodier unsolved crimes, both before and especially after, the general public cannot seem to ever stop talking about for long. Maybe it's the fact that the time period reminds us of Sherlock Holmes (oh if only that imaginary sleuth was real--he'd have solved the case!) or that it came at a time when people were ready to break out of the false face of Victorian prudishness or that the public just likes reading about dead prostitutes. Whatever the case, there's always room for a Ripper story, now and again, and always a place for new theories.In this case, Rumbelow takes pains to be a compiler of information rather than an advocate of one theory over the others. In fact, my only problem with this book was the sometimes maddening way in which Rumbelow refuses to pass judgment on that which he gives the reader. I had hoped that the section titled "conclusion" would provide at least a hint as to the author's thoughts, but instead it's a cryptic, one page statement that we must try to stick to the facts and hope that some new facts can come to light before legend overtakes all. Is that a truthful statement? Certainly, but I would still have liked at least a few pages of "this is my thought on the subject." A few hundred pages and some graphic photos from the period, while perhaps being all that is truly known of the Ripper, is not enough for a reader to make their own guesses. The author, in my opinion, should help out. After all, this is the "complete" Jack the Ripper not the "encyclopedia" of Jack the Ripper.My problem with the writer's lack of inserted opinion aside, this is an amazing look at what is known of the Ripper murders, including a side murders that probably/possibly (depending on your perspective) have nothing to do with the case. As a modern reader, it's maddening to read about the failures in procedure, the jurisdictional fights and the general indifference because it was occurring in such a poor part of town. In fact, the worst of reading about such problems in the case is that, be honest now, do you really think a modern case held in the worst of an inner city in the United States would be much different? Media attention? Certainly, but this case had it, too. The fact is, when undesirables are killed, there's just not as much desire to put the best men on the job, so to speak, because there's not enough money and you never know when some pretty rich girl is going to be captured and require months of investigation and thousands of dollars to find. The more things change...Rumbelow divides the book into sections, starting with the facts surrounding the murders, and proceeding to the letters, the recriminations, the suspects, literary Rippers, and of course, a few famous cases that imitate the original crime--frequently with bloodier results. I was quite surprised at the list of suspects--it was a bit longer than I'd heard before--and impressed with how Rumbelow presented the evidence for and against each potential Ripper. Some of them are almost certainly not good candidates, but they are aired by the author anyway. This was probably the place where a lack of desire to commit to any side hurts the book most. Reading all the potentials without a guide as to who is the strongest candidate, even as a closer to the chapter, was, I thought, rather frustrating. Your mileage may vary.If you are interested in true crime or Jack the Ripper in particular, this is something you definitely must read. Just be warned--the book's text and pictures are brutal in their frankness. If you've a weak stomach, this isn't for you. I, on the other hand, was quite impressed. (Library, 03/08)

I had originally read the first edition as a teenager. It was one of the only true crime books of my mother's that I reread. For a while the whole idea of Jack the Ripper fascinated me. I have come to realize that what struck my interest was partly how the case was stuck with us despite the lack of evidence and knowledge. The main interest in it was that it gave me my first look at the dark and seedy side if Victorian England. It made me aware that the "good old days" are merely a myth. And with that fascination a love of more modern history was developed. Prior to this book, I was more fascinated with ancientt Egyptian history.The book that I just finished is the revised edition. Rumbelow's accout is probably one of the least sensational accounts out there. In many ways he humanizes the victims and the police that were searching for the killer. He makes no grandiose claims about having solved the case. And when he talks about the suspects, he points out flaws in many would be Rippers.There are two things that Rumbelow does wrong in this version of the book. The first is the somewhat superior tone he takes in tearing apart two very popular books where the authors have claimed to solve the case. One I have read and found ridiculous myself. However the nature of the case will mean that as long as Jack sells books people will put forth outlandish ideas that may be more money or may be because the author believes it. The second thing that Rumbelow does that ruins the book for me (and is worse than first) is the Beyond the Grave chapter. Talking about how the Ripper has fascinated us and entertained us (i.e. plays, novelizations, etc) is important to looke at but a detailed account of three other murderers is a but much. Whilst I understand that he is trying to argue that our contined fascination for this particular serial killer can lead down a very dark and depraved path for some, Rumbelow spends too many pages on murderers who are have nothing to do with Jack the Ripper.In conclusion, I would recommend this as a must read for any Ripperologist and for anyone with a passing interest in the case. The book, with the revisions, have withstood the test of time from its first publication to now.
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Reviews
Flew Flewelling
I must begin by saying that I wasn't sure I really wanted to read this book. I'm not into serial killings or such, but had a friend that just wouldn't take no for an answer. The beginning was a little tough as I knew little to nothing about Jack the Ripper or the streets of London where his killings took place. What I was impressed with, was the journey that the author takes you on. He begins by setting the stage and describing what London, and more specifically, Whitechapel was like just before the murders began taking place. In my post-industrial, modern mindset, I was dismayed by the amount of people crammed into that tiny area and how much poverty and immorality abounded. After establishing this, the author goes chronologically through each of the murders. He describes what is know, what is speculated, and what is here say. The last third of the book then is devoted to all the suspects. The author describes each of the suspects and how they could have been Jack the Ripper. The author also candidly, but with justification, his view on each of the suspects.Even thou I wasn't interested at all, the book held my attention, not to mentioned author thoroughly did his homework. I would have given it 5 stars, but there were a lot of times the author assumed the reader's knowledge of the streets of London. I suppose if I had already had some background knowledge going into the book it would have been ok, but coming in cold turkey left me often feeling bogged down by street names and details that we'd lost on me.
Hannah
Rating Clarification: 3.5 StarsI originally rated this 4 stars last night after finishing it, but after a night's sleep, I lowered it to 3.5 stars. Not a big difference, but upon reflection, I think that one of the reasons I enjoyed Rumbelow's book was also, weirdly enough, why I lowered my rating. Here's why: Rumbelow isn't a writer by profession. He was actually a City of London policeman for several years before becoming a writer. His approach to Jack was from a different perspective, and I enjoyed his bare bones, "just-the-facts-ma'm" take on arguably the most famous (and infamous) unsolved crime of all time. He takes the reader through the dirty and hopeless streets of the East End near the turn of the century and paints a dreary picture of life for the population who lived and died there. He provides good background information on all the victims of Jack's rage, and takes us through a line-up of all the known suspects; giving us both the pros and cons of each persons likelihood of being the Ripper.Rumbelow knows his Ripperology, and covers it all pretty thoroughly, so if you're looking for a decent compendium on Jack and his deeds, you can't go wrong with this book.However, it must be noted again that writing wasn't Rumbelow's first vocation, and IMO it shows. There isn't a smooth flow and transition throughout the book, and I sometimes I found myself having to re-read a sentence or go back a few pages to figure out what his point was. In addition, I didn't see the need for his final chapter, "Beyond the Grave", which covered other violent crimes (like the Yorkshire Ripper and the Dusseldorf Monster). While I undertand the parallels Rumbelow was trying to show with more recent cases, it just seemed "tacked on" and could have been better featured in a follow up book. His chapter on the Ripper's impact on pop culture (the theater, movies and books) was also similarily unnecessary IMO, but perhaps other readers will like the inclusions. For my taste, just give the down and dirty on Jack and leave it at that.This is a grisly, graphic book, with descriptions of the mutilations, mortuary photos, and some pretty disgusting information in the final chapter I previously memtioned (Beyond the Grave). Obviously, this is about the Ripper, so it isn't rainbows and ponies, but Rumbelow doesn't pull any punches -- it's all out there. If you're of a squimish nature, you might just want to Wiki Jack and leave it at that.All in all, a good reference book, with some very minor problems (your mileage may vary).
Heather
This book was recommended to me by an odd elderly man (who seemed to know a little too much about serial killers) that I met in the True Crime section at a used book warehouse. I did not know anything at all about Jack the Ripper. I took the book home and asked my husband what he knew about the serial killer. He told me he only knew three things "for sure". One was that he lured his victims to him using grapes (which were considered rare), two that he murdered prostitutes, and three that the police knew who the Ripper was, but he was a prince, so because of politics there was a huge cover up. Only one of these "facts" turned out to be true. Obviously the story of Jack the Ripper has been dramatized over the years by Hollywood and overzealous Ripperologists (yes, that's a thing). This book gets down to the facts of the case and presents some of the many popular theories over the years, but also disproves them. It did give me nightmares, not because of the murders themselves or the crime scene photos (there were some gruesome ones) but because I kept thinking about the case and how little evidence there is, which opens the door to many interpretations as to the who, how and why. It's the mystery of Jack the Ripper that keeps this case popular to this day. This book also includes a chapter at the end of other Jack the Ripper copycats who HAD been caught. But, who's every hear of the Dusseldorf Ripper?
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