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The Complete History of Jack the Ripper Paperback – January 9, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (January 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786709324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786709328
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British historian-researcher Sugden here presents an exhaustive study of the Whitechapel murders of 1888 (some would say 1888-91) and examines the books by other "Ripperologists" to show that many have been derivative or have succumbed to the mythology surrounding the case. He makes it clear that, given the state of forensic medicine at the time, the police did good work but had almost no clues. Sugden concludes that none of the prime suspects was the Ripper, except perhaps George Chapman. Born in Poland as Severin Klosowski, he apprenticed as a surgeon; in London, where he was a hairdresser, he was suspected of several slashings but was never arrested. Included are photos and sketches of the murder locations and the women who were butchered.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The series of murders in London in 1888 attributed to someone called Jack the Ripper constitute one of the most famous and mysterious unsolved criminal cases. Time has not diminished the gruesomeness of the killings: all the victims' throats were cut (some were almost beheaded), some victims were disemboweled, and from a few the killer took organs. When fear of the Ripper peaked, the killings stopped, and a century of speculation ensued. Sugden does not resist adding to the inquiry a chapter on his theory of Jack's identity, yet his book isn't intended to solve the puzzle. Rather, he painstakingly sifts through press clippings and police records to dispel misinformation, much of it stemming from police refusal to release information to the newspapers, as a result of which the press published rumors as facts, which were subsequently used by researchers as the basis of their books. Sugden is exhaustive, and his book is for the serious student, not light reading. Future writers on Jack the Ripper will use this text as the basis of their research. Jon Kartman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I found this to be a very interesting reading.
Amazon Customer
I would highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading an emotionless, fact-filled book about Jack the Ripper to pick this one up.
Deborah McGrane
The author did a great job with the research for this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

156 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 12, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read several books on Jack the Ripper, I can enthusiastically declare Sugden's volume the best of the lot, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, this book is not about "Jack the Ripper" per se, but rather it is about the series of murders in Whitechapel and the ensuing investigation. It is the author's stated goal to present the facts as clearly as can be gleaned from extant police files and press reports of the time (albeit, in the latter case, cautiously and only when information is not available in official form). As other reviewers point out, Sugden is not trying to convince us that his own pet suspect is the Ripper. Whereas most Ripper books begin with a conclusion and are written with the arbitary purpose of convincing us that the author has identified the Ripper, this book actually saves the conclusion to the end. Even that conclusion, however, is not definitive. The author does, in the end, tell us why a certain suspect seems to fit the facts better than other named suspects, but he clearly states that there is no definitive proof as to whether or not that suspect was Jack, and he by no means accuses the man of the crimes. In the same vein, Sugden does not attack other writers in the field. That being said, he does point out flaws and outright mistakes in others' thinking. Even this, it must be said, is done in a noble fashion. Sugden is very determined to dispel a number of myths that have wrongly influenced Ripperology for many years, and his contribution toward this end is the most important contribution he makes.Read more ›
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
As an amatuer "Ripperologist" I have read most of the books published on this subject. About a half dozen works stand above the rest thanks to thorough research and a sound investigative approach. Until now, only Donald Rumbelow's CASEBOOK had been so thorough, but new theories and evidence have come to light in the many years since that book was written. This book was way overdue! Sugden has done an amazingly thorough and readable job of seperating fact from fiction, identifying myths that far too many authors have carelessly passed off as truth. Sugden's no-nonsense assessment of the various suspects, witnesses and resources is as refreshing as it is informative. From the waxwork dioramas of the 1880's to the phony diaries of today, unscrupulous people have made many fortunes by co-opting Jack the Ripper's infamy. Here we have the best book yet written to dispell the hype and tell us what is really known about history's most famous serial killer. You could read a handful of other recent Ripper books and not get what you do right here -- I only hope there will be new editions as new issues come to light.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Author Bill Peschel on September 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an unusual Ripper book, one that does not have an axe (or knife in this case) to grind, nor does it have a favorite theory to advance. Following in the steps of Donald Rumbelow's "The Complete Jack the Ripper," Philip Sugden decided to go back to the original source material, plus the packet of material taken from the London police that was mailed back to them in 1987, and recount the history of the case. This he does well, going over the material, the press reports and other writers' theories with a skeptical eye and a fearless passion for the truth. He finds, not surprisingly, that the press reports are extremely inaccurate, that most of the memoirs written by police officials decades after the fact were not to be believed, and that many Ripperologists were either criminally negligent or, at best, unable to see deeply into the evidence and render accurate judgments.
There is some new material here, however, particularly Sugden's researches into the three suspects Sir Melville Macnaghten thought were prime Ripper candidates. At the time of the killings, Macnaghten was assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in charge of CID, but that rank did not spare him from Sugden's dissection of his claims that the Ripper was M.J. Druitt, Kosminski, or Michael Ostrog. By checking out Macnaghten's other claims in his statements, it becomes plain that the old boy had no evidence to back up his charges.
Sugden traces other claims and counterclaims like this, and while he was unable to unmask the Ripper, he does offer a candidate more suitable that Macnaghten's three, and with the help of criminal profiling, suggests a line of investigation that may throw more light on this century-old mystery. If you're unable to plow through the 800-page Ripper book coming up in December, this is the one book to get!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on February 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Not being a "ripperologist" myself and only having a passing interest in the case I found this book to be an eye-opener. I had always assumed that there were the five murders that are accepted as being the work of the ripper and that was it. I now find that there may have been six, seven, or eight. Maybe even more. There may have even been a ripper murder in America.
With this work the reader gets a case by case, witness by witness, and suspect by suspect review of the facts. The research that went into this book and the details covered show an amazing dedication on the part of Mr. Sugden. He does not fall into what has apparently been a trap for ripper writers for years by accepting secondary sources at face value. Instead he looks to primary material where possible and by doing so exposes myths that have survived in some cases for over one hundred years. As an added bonus he does not start out like many other writers on this subject with a theory to prove, bending and ignoring evidence to fit his preconceived notion.
I only had two very small problems with this book. First, Mr. Sugden is a little too open in his contempt for some other ripper writers. Sometimes he seems to go out of his way to point out their mistakes. Considering that these mistakes have have often been accepted as fact by later writers and are the basis for many myths I guess that this tactic may be necessary. Still I often found that it bothered me. Second, he uses several words which I am sure are in common use in England but cause the American reader to pause and wonder just what Sugden is talking about. My complaints are small indeed.
Sugden does end the book with the most likely suspect but admits that the case against this man still is full of holes. Will the case ever be solved? Sugden seems to think so. After reading his extraordinary book I agree.
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