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Topic: What's a good non-fiction book about Jack the Ripper?

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Subject: What's a good non-fiction book about Jack the Ripper?
Date Posted: 6/3/2008 9:59 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I'm looking for a good, thorough, readable historical non fiction book about Jack the Ripper?  Anyone know of one really good title to start with?

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 10:08 AM ET
Member Since: 7/17/2007
Posts: 258
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I read and enjoyed "Portrait of a Killer: Jack Ripper Case Closed" by Patricia Cornwell.  It was very well written and a quick read.  The research done on the topic was really amazing.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 10:36 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
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I agree with Emily. The Patricia Cornwell book on Jack the Ripper was a fascinating read. I just happen to have it on my shelf if you're interested.
Date Posted: 6/3/2008 11:10 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
Posts: 2,246
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The Cornwell book is a fascinating read. As long as you understand that there is much controversy about the book. Her prime suspect wasn't even in the country on the evenings of some of the murders. Some of the documents she refers to as good evidence were revealed to be hoaxes years ago. Cornwell has responded that Ripperologists don't want to have the mystery solved, and there may be some truth in that. I don't think a jury would convict her prime suspect based on the evidence she has presented, however. But it is a good read.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 11:21 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2007
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I agree with Les, too. I remember the controversy over the book when it first came out but it's still a fascinating take on the case! (Les, I finished the Spencer-Fleming book last night. It was excellent! Thanks for the rec!)
Date Posted: 6/3/2008 12:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
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I've been intrigued by the Cornwell book, but haven't read it.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 12:42 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2008
Posts: 364
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I was going to recommend Portrait of a Killer, also....and not just because I've had it on my bookshelf for weeks.  :)

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 3:10 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
Posts: 2,246
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The Cornwell book is a good read if you take it as fiction or what some call "faction". She pretty much decided who the murderer was and then constructed her case around that. It's quite entertaining if you take it for what it is.

[LeeAnne, I'm delighted that you enjoyed the book. If you go over to Spencer-Fleming's website http://www.juliaspencerfleming.com/ and get on her mailing list, she's going to link folks to free e-books of her first two books sometime in the near future.]

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 4:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2007
Posts: 362
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I had the Cornwell book on Audio and it was a bizillion CD's.

I love audio books in the car and after three road trips, when I still hadn't finished it, and seriously didn't care anymore who slashed who, I gave it away.

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 12:56 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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Ok, checking out the Patricia Cornwell book, any others?

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 3:40 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
Posts: 2,246
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The Complete Jack the Ripper By Donald Rumbelow is quite dated but very good, very thorough, just not up to date. Last update was 1992, but it's quite good.

There's a new one which Rumbelow has co-authored, Jack the Ripper: Scotland Yard Investigates, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Date Posted: 6/5/2008 5:39 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
Posts: 2,246
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Called a friend who is interested in true crime (retired cop, you'd think he'd be sick of it) and he recommended what he called the bible of Ripperology, The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden.

Edited for formatting



Last Edited on: 6/5/08 5:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/6/2008 9:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I listened to Portrait of a Killer on audio and thought it was reallly good. 

Date Posted: 6/12/2008 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2007
Posts: 326
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I read Cornwell's book and agree with the others... great read, questionable research, sketcky conclusion. But I did find it interesting.

I have also read Jack the Ripper: A Definitive History by Paul Begg. It reads more like a history book in that it is not really "plot driven" because it is a very detailed recounting of the facts.  One of the last chapters is dedicated to all of the popular Ripper suspects of the time and breaks down the cases for and against those suspsects.  Begg's conclusion is that the real Ripper was most likely a man named Kosminski, but (like all things Ripper) nothing is conclusive.

Date Posted: 9/8/2008 4:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I'm reading Patricia Cornwell's book right now, and I'm finding that I agree with most of the people here.  She's a compelling writer (although some of the analysis of different types of stationary and watermarks did make my eyes cross), but I can see that she drew her own conclusions and then gathered evidence to support it.  But its certainly interesting.

Date Posted: 9/8/2008 7:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2008
Posts: 87
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I wasn't a member yet when this topic was first posted, but as I was looking at the forum just now, my husband was coming up the stairs and asked it there was anything new and interesting.  And, getting to the point, he loves reading about Jack the Ripper.

He recommends the bibliography in the back of From Hell, and highlights these:

Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution by Stephen Knight

The Complete Jack the Ripper by Donald Rumbelow (already recommended here).

Date Posted: 9/8/2008 9:09 PM ET
Member Since: 10/26/2005
Posts: 1,053
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I just wanted to further recommend the book by Donald Rumbelow. When I went to London for a study abroad, we were able to take a Jack the Ripper tour of the city with Rumbelow as our guide. It was a very informative night, and he really knows his stuff. He was offering some of his books for sale that night, and I was able to get one signed by him.  It very a great read.

Date Posted: 9/9/2008 12:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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Thanks for all the new suggestions, now I'm looking at the other recs for a more objective history.