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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 28 October 2012
Is this book a rip-off? That depends on the individual perspective. From a purely Ripperologistic viewpoint, this book is essentially about one image; but it is an incredibly important one, which cannot be found anywhere else and was only recently discovered (by the author), having remained unknown and unseen for probably the best part of 100 years. If you feel the need to see and own a copy of this image, then this book is worth having - though you may want to try to get it as cheaply as possible. If, however, you are hoping for lots of exciting pictures, then you will be disappointed; in fact, much of this book (including many of the images) have little or nothing (directly) to do with the Ripper case. What it does do well, though, is fully validate the provenance and authenticity of the amazing Dutfield's Yard image - don't expect a high quality and detailed image, here; but do be most grateful that it exists! It should also be noted that all the images are presented in black and white, despite the fact that the 1960's photo's were shot in colour...?
I don't really think this book should be described as 4 or 5 star; but 1 star would certainly be too harsh, because if you want to know everything there is to know about the Ripper case, this book is a must have in the furtherance of that quest. (2.5 stars would be fairest.)

NB: My advice is to obtain 'The London of Jack the Ripper: Then and Now', which the author of this book is a co-author. This was published 2 years earlier than this book, just before the Dutfield's Yard image was discovered, and is much more definitive from a pure Ripperology perspective - it just lacks one image, however... [Incidentally, there is one other image in this book, not found in the 'Then and Now' book: this is an image of the yard at the back of 29 Hanbury St taken from a different angle to the one in the former book, but unfortunately is small and darkly reprinted.]

Footnote: I have since discovered that there is another photo of Dutfield's Yard, taken from the inside, with a clear view of the area where the murder took place - this was taken in the 1930's by William Stewart and appears in 'The East End - Then & Now'; this photo also shows the wooden gates that were in place at that time, which although not the originals, give a close approximation of what it would have actually looked like - this book also includes a number of other ripper crime scene photo's taken in the 1930's, 1960's & 1970's, none of which appear in any other source that I have so far come across. This does not detract from the significance of the new photo, but it would seem that the claim that is the only one of an inner view of the yard, is erroneous.
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on 11 December 2009
Every once in a while a book comes along on the subject of Ripperology that presents something new on the case. These instances are rare, as most of the suspect based books tread over old ground, make the same assumptions but try and frame a new name.
Fortunately, this is not a suspect based book, but a powerful and insightful tour de force through the locations of the five commonly accepted victims. Philip Hutchinson had previously co-authored The London of Jack the Ripper- Then and Now, with Robert Clack, but this time he goes it alone.

The book is split into two sections, first of all are the images we have come to know as the "Whitby Collection." These include shots of 29 Hanbury-street, which had previously been published by Philip in The London of Jack the Ripper- Then and Now, but now seem much sharper, with more detail present. Philip introduces the reader to the Whitby family and the measures he took to procure the album, taking us through biographical details of the life of an early Ripperologist.

The final half of the book is devoted to the photo album that featured the Dutfields Yard photo, which was the location of the murder of Elizabeth Stride, and it is seen here for the first time. Philip takes the reader through his journey of research and investigation, and details how he managed to, with the help of a few fellow Ripperologists, locate the place that the image was taken and the time period from which it hails.

This is an amazing book, presenting new images and information to an age old case. A must for anyone with an interest in London's dark history, true crime, and of course Jack the Ripper!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 January 2014
As other reviewers have already pointed out here this book is essentially a book written about the discovery of a single photo. While the importance/interest of that photograph (of Dutfield's Yard - scene of the Elizabeth Stride murder) can not be underestimated and the story surrounding the authors discovery of it is interesting (if a little padded out in places) not all of it is of great relevance to the story of Jack The Ripper.

The biggest frustration with this book however is that the reproduction quality of a lot of the photographs here is poor. Reprinted to match their original size (many Box-Brownie size) the author often goes into detail about things in the pictures that it is impossible to see from using the book! The Dutfields Yard picture is the best example of this as it is unwisely printed over two pages and as such the spine obscures a lot of the detail described by the Author in the middle of the shot.

For this reason. I feel this book is somewhat of a good idea badly executed and as such could have been much better than it is. Authenticity is one thing but to write a book essentially revolving around the story of one image and to then not make sure that every detail in that photograph can be seen clearly and be fully digested by those eager to study it is sloppy in the extreme.

So then, if you want a well-researched and interesting read with plenty to do with British history, package holidays from 1900 and an amazing discovery on Ebay this book is for you. If on the other hand you are keen to get hold of this to be able to study with interest the hallowed photo of Dutfield's Yard I would wait until Mr Hutchinson brings out another ripper-related book where it will (hopefully) be more sensibly positioned and better reproduced than here.
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on 3 September 2012
As my review title states, I think this was an excellent idea for a book. It's amazing that an image of Dutfield's yard actually showed up after more than 100 years and all should doff their caps to Mr Hutchison for not hoarding the image in a private collection (as I believe many other Ripperologists would have done!) but sharing the image with the world in this manner.

There are a number of points though that irritated me regarding this book.
Firstly the dimensions of the publication. For a book that is solely dedicated to photography (ultra rare photography at that!) the book is ridiculously small. The images themselves are also small; about 4 inches wide in some parts. This makes detailed analysis all but impossible. Especially the shots of long streets. You can barely make out detail of the far end of the streets.
Another major gripe is that all photos are presented in black and white. The Whitby collection IS mostly black and white, but the modern day comparison shots are also in black and white! Why?
Also the modern day comparison photo of Swallow Gardens on page 24 is so dark that almost no details can be made out at all. A colour photo would have eliminated this problem.
Also the text accompanying Whitby's photos of the backyard of 29 Hanbury St boast that it's the only colour image in existence showing the murder scene of Annie Chapman - yet it's presented in Black & White! Why???

The Dutfield's Yard photograph - esentially what the book is all about. The most important Ripper discovery in the last 50 years. Why then is the image shown only once? Not only that but the version shown is a restored version that's been touched up a great deal by the author. I agree that it's important to try to repair any damage to the image but we could at least have been presented with the damaged version AND the restored version.
That's not even my biggest problem with the Dutfields photo. It's spread across 2 pages which means that about 10% of the image isn't visible because it's hidden right between the binding down the middle. Am I really the only one who finds that horrific?

Sorry if I come across like a right moan in this review. It is a great book and no Ripper enthusiast should be without it, but I had to vent my frustration on the above points. This is the even the 2nd printing of the book. Let's hope for the 3rd printing that they reconsider the layout, add some colour and offer an unobstructed view of THE photo in both damaged and restored versions.
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on 12 January 2010
I had the pleasure of hearing Philip talk about his book a few months ago and was in awe of all the research he had done to authenticate the photograph of Dutfield's Yard. If you are at all interested In Jack The Ripper or the East End of London, then I recommend that you get a copy of his book!
Philip has done extensive and what must have been exhausting research not only into the photograph but also into the photographer herself.
Having done quite a lot of genealogy myself, I can appreciate the work he put into this book.
A lot went into the writing of this book and I guarantee that you will take alot of this book away with you after reading it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 January 2012
This must be one of the most important additions to the ever expanding canon of Ripper books of recent years. It is shows that exciting new material can be added to our knowledge of the Whitechapel murders even after 130 years if luck is with the researcher and if that the researcher has the skill to recognise whazt is before him and hidden in plain sight.

This is also one of the most fascinating and well writtenof the many books in my own Ripper library. It is no fault of the author that the key photograph, lost for so many years, is split over two pages. Perhaps in a future edition it can be presented as a fold out plate or a separate insert.

This remarkable book is a must for anyone with at least a passing interest in what is perhaps the most infamous murder story in British history.
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on 25 May 2010
The back cover blurb promises, "modern comparison shots in colour."
I know black and white are colours, but I was somehow expecting more.
A very good read, nonetheless.
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on 30 March 2010
I was happy with the book, but it was a shame that the Dutfield's Yard photo was on two pages, meaning you couldn't see some of the photo. I'd like to see the photo the same size but on one page.
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on 15 February 2010
Once again Philip Hutchinson has had the courage to put his head above the parapet and produce some truly original photographs and research! More power to his elbow I say- if more people had this courage then Ripper research may move on a lot faster!
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on 15 February 2010
This book represents one of the best examples of modern day research in the field of "Ripperology". The author's lucky aquisition of what has turned out to be the first known photograph of Dutfields Yard (location of the third canonical murder attributed to Jack the Ripper), was in fact only the beginning of the story. His research into why the photo was taken, who took it, and what the photographer from the U.S. was doing in London in 1900, is breathtaking and makes for an impressive read.

In addition, this book also includes all photos in the famous Whitby collection, (taken in 1961) which show several other Jack the Ripper murder locations relatively unchanged from Victorian times, along with modern day comparison shots.

This book is very much recommended for anyone interested in the streets and buildings that made up the old east end hunting grounds of Jack the Ripper, many of which no longer remain.
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