Customer Reviews


107 Reviews
5 star:
 (76)
4 star:
 (25)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on the Subject To Date
I've always been fascinated by Jack the Ripper and of the crimes he committed without really knowing anything of the victims or how many he actually killed ...which to this day is still debatable. Having been brought up on seeing various movies claiming to be the definitive version and all varying widely off the mark as I now know, I wanted a factual account of the events...
Published on 24 Sept. 2010 by P. Bessant

versus
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete History of Jack the Ripper
Very detailed history and research- possibly too detailed for the interested reader but a good insight into life in Victorian London.
Published on 12 Jan. 2013 by fizz66


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on the Subject To Date, 24 Sept. 2010
By 
P. Bessant (Portsmouth UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
I've always been fascinated by Jack the Ripper and of the crimes he committed without really knowing anything of the victims or how many he actually killed ...which to this day is still debatable. Having been brought up on seeing various movies claiming to be the definitive version and all varying widely off the mark as I now know, I wanted a factual account of the events and made this the first book on the subject that I bought (over a year ago now...this is a belated review but allows me to compare it to other books) and it's unquestionably one of the best. The writing is superb and takes you on a mentally stimulating picture of victorian London and of the hardship the residents of the East End had to endure on a daily basis. The facts given about each murder are presented in such a way you will not be able to put the book down - I read the whole thing in two days. Philip Sugden waits until the end to go into who he thinks is the most likely suspect (in his opinion) therefore leaving the rest of the book to present the facts as they should be read allowing the reader to make up his or her own mind. After reading this I think Martha Tabram should be included along with the canonical five and have my own reasons for including her. That's the best thing about this book - everyone will come away with an unbiased opinion of their own based on the facts that this brilliant book places before them. Highly recommended and having bought further books on the subject it remains the most impressive one I've read. It's also one of only a few books that shows a map of the area which you can refer back to; extremely helpful especially when reading about the night of Sept 30th. Why other books fail to include this simple (and obvious) visual reference escapes me - many books say this happened there then he went here via this way before turning up that way and then going back this way and he probably turned into this street without giving the reader any idea of where things were happening. After reading the stories of each victim and feeling that I've got to know a lot about them through the narrative of the book - they were innocent women after all, forced by desperation to walk the streets through no choice of their own just to get a bed for the night, this book shows to the reader the full horror of what Jack the Ripper did (showing photos of the victims taken at the mortuary and in the case of Mary Jane Kelly graphically showing the full savagery of the person the police were dealing with). The fact that nobody to this day knows his identity is just one reason for the continued fascination of something that happened over 120 years ago. If only Albert Cadosch had looked over the fence when he heard that thump history may have been re written.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 7 Feb. 2005
By 
S. Lee "sl010c0016" (UK.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
If you only ever read one book about the Jack the ripper murders of 1888, make it this one. Even readers that have studied the ripper for years will find new nuggets of information here. Superbly written, it sweeps you along on a tide of facts and theorys, you wont be able to put it down. I can't recommend this book enough, superb.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sacred Tome of Ripperology, 30 Nov. 2002
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
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. He goes to great lengths to not only point out false "facts" (such as the supposed pregnancy of Mary Kelly, for example, an idea that even Donald Rumbelow accepted when he wrote his Casebook) but to explain where these myths came from and why they were accepted by other writers.
Another wonderful thing about this book is Sugden's treatment of the victims. I must admit that I have always viewed the victims with some detachment--this is surely a personal shortcoming on my part, but it is one that many people may share, especially given that the victims were prostitutes in Victorian London over a century ago. In the pages of this book, though, these poor women actually become real and "human." I feel as if I knew them now, to at least a small degree, and, besides feeling pity and compassion for them, I have discovered that I actually liked a couple of them (especially Annie Camp). These women were not just poor "prostitutes." Other writers have done a good job of explaining the wretched conditions in Whitechapel, but no one else has made that world and its occupants really come alive and real to me before. Sugden deserves much praise for putting so much effort into researching, learning, and telling the true story of these women as comprehensively as possible.
In this book, you will find the most complete, objective story that can be told of the Whitechapel murders. "Facts" you have assumed were true will be brought to light and revealed to be myths. New information, particularly in regard to the victims, will be presented. You will not be shown Jack the Ripper, however. What do the facts tell us about Jack the Ripper? That is the question Sugden poses. He has some ideas, which he shares, but any "answers" to this mystery are ultimately left with the reader.
This book should be required reading for any person even remotely interested in Jack the Ripper. Sugden has written the sacred tome of Ripperology, in my opinion.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Boss, 1 April 2011
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
Oh Murder! This is one of the finest and well researched books I have ever read. I had a very basic knowledge of the man they call Jack the Ripper, and being 100 pages from the end of the book I can easily say I need not read another. From the introduction I had complete faith that the author had gone the farthest point that you can, even to find out the most smallest of detail. It must of taken up years of his life and to read it I found an absolute joy. I normally get bored with books quite easily but with this I am glad to say was not the case. Don't go for a Ripper book that the author has his own theory to prove, go for one that just tells you the facts that we have. This book will be read again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars meticulous balanced account, 10 July 2007
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
Having read a book on Jack the Ripper by a less competent investigator, of which I have provided a less than complimentary review (see my other Amazon reviews), I was given this book as being the best account of the Ripper facts.

This book is indeed a comprehensive account of the surviving documentary evidence on the Whitechapel murders, starting out with an open, balanced and factual view rather than with a conclusion to be proven.

Sugden chronicles each of the murders in detail, talking a little also of the relevant social factors within the community, as well as the contemporary politics working within and around the investigation. He concludes by providing an interesting analysis of the case against each of the favourite Ripper candidates.

My only criticism of his approach, is that for Ripper amateurs such as myself, who are less familiar with the incidents, it is easy to become lost amongst the facts of different murders. There is little overview of the case and sometimes it becomes difficult to see how the facts are associated to one another, in order to build a case within one's own mind.

Nevertheless, this is an excellent compilation of the facts of the Ripper case. Sugden is balanced and does not resort to grandiose claims of having solved the mystery, instead meticulously tackling the facts on their own merit. Although its strength is in the comprehensive detail, those new to the subject might be wary that this in itself might be a disadvantage to them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't be better, 12 Mar. 2003
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
This is my first Ripper book, and I am not sure I'm going to read any others - this book simply seems to have included all the facts about the murders, the victims, witnesses, etc. and it completely lacks the unfounded speculation which is rumoured to be caracteristic of most other works about the Ripper. The book has been massively researched, and no claims are made without reference(s) to the source(s) used.
If you're seriously interested in studying the Ripper murders this book is a must!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars complete to a point, 11 Mar. 2009
By 
Su (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
The problem with labelling something as "complete" is that new information can turn up at anytime, making it "incomplete". Yet as far as this book goes it is complete upto the time of publishing, and it has information which authors of more recent tomes on the subject of Jack the Ripper have decided are not relevent anymore.

Though some of the mentions are short at least they are there, and the author does not try to influence the reader with his own point of view or theory about who the Ripper was; he leaves it to the reader to sift through the facts and decide whether or not to continue their research.

The benefit of Mr Sugden's book is that the lesser known (and, yes, in some cases irrelevant) suspects all get mentioned, as well as reasoning behind ruling them out as the Ripper. It is important to cover all aspects of the case, the victims, the leads and the falsely accused.

This is a great book and I highly recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterclass in detective work., 24 Jun. 2012
By 
N. R. Punchard (Gateshead, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
It would be difficult to imagine a better account of the gruesome murders that horrified London in 1888. The author has performed a superlative feat of fact discovery and myth debunking. So much drivel has been written and spoken about what happened and who might have done it. Read this impeccably researched and extensively noted book and form your own opinion!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and Clinical, 13 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
If you want an informed book about the 1888 Whitechapel murders, make it this one. Unless, that is, you are looking for a casual read, in which case DO NOT buy this book; it is awash with detail, detail, detail. If, however, you are happy to immerse yourself with the Ripper and want comprehensive and, importantly, untarnished facts, then you absolutely must read this book - as the `go to' website Casebook so rightly says: "Consider this required reading for anyone interested in the case."

What I like most about THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF JACK THE RIPPER is that the author, Philip Sugden, repeatedly reminds us that we need to go to "primary sources" for evidence. In doing exactly that himself, he helps strip away the many shams created by both the media and less studious Ripper books, and pulls no punches when it comes to denouncing any erroneous information and its respective authors. Some might dislike Sugden's schoolmaster-style `tickings-off', but I rather enjoyed Stephen Knight having an "overheated imagination" and his theory a "colossus built on sand", whilst "fictioneer" William Stewart, the author of JACK THE RIPPER: A NEW THEORY, comes in for more fire with my favourite dig: "But William Stewart, undeterred by anything as vulgar as fact." Go on, Sugden!

The police fare much better with Sugden than they did back in 1888, although Donald Swanson and Sir Robert Anderson, prominent officers directly involved with the case, nonetheless come under fire when Sugden concludes his exhaustive section on Kosminski: "Anderson and Swanson had come to inhabit a world of wish-dreams. And together they transformed a harmless imbecile, sheltering within the walls of Leavesden [Asylum], into the most infamous murderer of modern times."

But it's not all moonlight and roses. In a book crammed with excellence, it is perhaps easier for me to highlight the occasional bugbear:

Firstly, although rare I was at times confused by Sugden's reasoning. For example, in exonerating suspect Jacob Isenschmid, he at one stage writes: "Mary Isenschmid...told Sergeant Thick, `I do not think my husband would injure anyone but me.' Hardly proof that he was a homicidal maniac!"

Other than to thank my lucky stars that I am not blessed with the sergeant's unfortunate surname, I couldn't help but think: Hardly proof that he wasn't! (I should point out that by the end of the passage you can't help but agree with Sugden's ultimate conclusion about Isenschmid.)

Secondly, whilst THE COMPLETE HISTORY is written in a very clinical `A plus B equals C' fashion, since this is one of its strong points it therefore seems out of sorts when Sugden, who to the best of my memory calls only the victims by their Christian name, begins referring to medical expert Nick Warren as "Nick". Likewise, although to my shame I can't recall who, he also lets us know that another authority is his "friend". A friend he may well be, but if one pictures a professional commentator calling a race in which his brother Sebastian Coe is running, his commentary would doubtless go along the lines of "...and Coe crosses the line in first" - even though it would seem strange for him to call his brother "Coe". For this reason I believe that the transcript should have been kept universal, using first names for the victims when relevant and the authoritative tone for everyone else.

Thirdly, and along similar lines, Sugden's impersonal, scientific `clinical' approach again comes under fire when the `frustrated novelist' in him occasionally crops up. Once again this is minimal, so much so that I almost feel ashamed to highlight it, but at the same time there is no reason for having Diemschutz and Kozebrodski (upon determining that Elizabeth Stride is dead) rush off to find a policeman "with pounding hearts". If you feel that I'm being picky, I agree, but only because Sugden's tome is so 98% near-perfect that you want to squeeze it to 99%. Of course I can't leave everyone thinking, "Just that one line?" Hence I have a much better example. Whilst I was again in two minds about whether I should moan about the following (in this instance because, taken out of context, the passage genuinely is a lovely piece of prose - one that evokes Slim `Taggart' Pickens' famed Blazing Saddles retort, "You use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore") it is all the same unnecessarily flowery...

Speaking of the depositions and statements of the local residents vis-à-vis Kelly's murder, Sugden writes: "And the light they shed upon the vents of that night is but a fitful one. By it we can drive the shadows from Miller's Court for brief intervals, but they lurk in the corners, and as regularly as our light faulters they close around us again to envelop us in impenetrable gloom."

It is thus ironic that Sugden complained of Walter Dew's melodramatic prose ("wrote Dew dramatically")!

In closing, I could and perhaps should have included `repetitiveness' in my gripes, for the tome is not without the occasional repeat. However, these are not a subconscious oversight; each duplication is purposeful. And I, for one, welcomed the reminders.

Ultimately, this is a compelling and unbiased account of what we need to know about the Whitechapel murders, and gives us exactly what it says on the tin - THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF JACK THE RIPPER.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping, reasoned disquisition of the Whitechapel murders, 9 Nov. 2012
By 
This review is from: The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
It has been said that the consensus amongst 'Ripperologists' is that Sugden's examination of the series of murders that plagued the East End of London in 1888 is that it is the best amongst the great many books on the subject. I tend to concur with this.

Rather than promoting a favourite suspect of his own, Sugden proposes to look at the facts of the case afresh and proceed from there. Many silly myths about the murders are dispelled, and one occasionally gets the sense while reading it that we are catching fleeting glimpses of the monster.

It is indeed perplexing how this man (whose name, as the noted Ripperologist Richard Whittington-Egan once opined, nobody would in all likelihood recognise were it to be announced) was able to evade capture, considering the densely-populated area in which he operated and the short amount of time he sometimes had in which to dispose of his victim and mutilate them. Personally, I think he was just very lucky, and indeed was probably nearly rumbled by Louis Diemshutz while he was slashing away at Liz Stride. The warren of secluded byways and courts in which he and his victims roamed also doubtless worked to his advantage.

The savagery of these murders also strikes the reader, particularly the grotesque slaying of Mary Jane Kelly. What the almost demonic ferocity which he displayed in Miller's Court says about the murderer, Sugden does not really say, beyond stating that 'the roots of such behaviour are complicated'. Admittedly, he does share with us FBI man John Douglas's psychological profile of him. Sugden also piques the reader's interest by noting that a search of magistrates' court records during the Ripper's formative years might also prove fruitful. Indeed it might, both with respect to his identity and also to see whether it backs up the Behavioural Science Unit's view that the Ripper was probably indulging in arson and the torture of animals during these years. This avenue of research really ought to be looked into.

And what of Sugden's suspect, the sadistic Pole, Severin Klosowski, aka George Chapman? Well, there is no definitive piece of evidence that shows that the triple poisoner was wielding a blade against prostitutes during his early twenties, but there is some rather strong circumstantial evidence against him. He resided in Cable Street at the time of the murders, had a degree of surgical knowledge (as did the killer), was somewhat nocturnal, and also bore quite a resemblance to the descriptions of the murderer offered by certain witnesses. Indeed, I was struck by the likeness between a contemporary illustration of George Hutchinson's witness sighting and a photograph of Klosowski with Bessie Taylor. And how likely is it that two serial killers were operating pratically next door to one another during these years? True, there were the torsos in the Thames, but note that I am highlighting the probability of two sadistic psychopaths operating within such close proximity to one another and around the same time. I struggle to believe that Klosowski hadn't killed others prior to his embarking on the murder of his three spouses which, as with the Whitechapel killings, were equally baffling and motiveless. Moreover, what objections there are to Klosowski as a suspect seem to me to be fairly minor ones.

Nevertheless, at this juncture, it is unlikely that we will now succeed in uncovering any conclusive evidence against anyone for these abhorrent crimes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Complete History of Jack the Ripper
The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden (Paperback - 21 Feb. 2002)
£12.74
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews