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If you only read one book in your life about London's Autumn of Terror in 1888, this is it! Not so much a recreation of the nefarious career of Jack the Ripper as an indictment of the rigidly structured, profoundly corrupted society in which he practiced his butchery. Astonishingly well-researched and written with a pen dipped in the deepest black. — Alden Graves
The iconoclastic writer and director of the revered classic Withnail & I—"The funniest British film of all time" (Esquire)—returns to London in a decade-long examination of the most provocative murder investigation in British history, and finally solves the identity of the killer known as "Jack the Ripper."
In a literary high-wire act reminiscent of both Hunter S. Thompson and Errol Morris, Bruce Robinson offers a radical reinterpretation of Jack the Ripper, contending that he was not the madman of common legend, but the vile manifestation of the Victorian Age's moral bankruptcy.
In exploring the case of Jack the Ripper, Robison goes beyond the who that has obsessed countless others and focuses on the why. He asserts that any "gentlemen" that walked above the fetid gutters of London, the nineteenth century's most depraved city, often harbored proclivities both violent and taboo—yearnings that went entirely unpunished, especially if he also bore royal connections. The story of Jack the Ripper hinges on accounts that were printed and distributed throughout history by the same murderous miscreants who frequented the East End of her Majesty's London, wiping the fetid muck from their boots when they once again reached the marble floors of society's finest homes.
Supported by primary sources and illustrated with 75 to 100 black and white photographs, this breathtaking work of cultural history dismisses the theories of previous "Ripperologists." A Robinson persuasively makes clear with his unique brilliance, The Ripper was far from a poor resident of Whitechapel . . . he was a way of life.
Bruce Robinson is the director and screenwriter of Withnail & I, How to Get Ahead in Advertising, Jennifer 8, and The Rum Diary. He has also written the screenplays for The Killing Fields, Shadow Makers (released in the US as Fat Man and Little Boy), Return to Paradise, and In Dreams. He is the author of The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman, Paranoia in the Launderette, and two books for children, The Obvious Elephant and Harold and the Duck, both illustrated by Sophie Windham. He lives in London.