If the primary question about the notorious Whitechapel killer has always been his identity, the second most widely speculated aspect of the crimes was the actual count of victims. The authors present a convincing argument that there may have been more than the widely accepted number of five. As with most examinations of the Ripper's work, this thought-provoking book isn't for the squeamish. — Alden Graves
By far, the most comprehensive, literate and least-hysterical account of the reign of the most infamous serial killer in history. Mr. Begg doesn't make any grand revelations, but neither does he make any careless statements. Jack the Ripper is almost completely shrouded in legend and it is very easy to develop serious misconceptions about him. Begg is so admirably cautious about adding to the mountains of false information about the Ripper that he is doesn't even commit to the number of women who were killed. The author paints a vivid picture of the hell-on-earth that was the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. Grisly reading. You may find out a lot more about the female anatomy than you care to. — Alden Graves
'The clearest, most accurate, and most up-to-date account of the Ripper murders, by one of Britain's greatest and most respected experts on the autumn of terror in Victorian London.'
William D. Rubenstein, Professor of Modern History, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
England in the 1880s was a society in transition, shedding the skin of Victorianism and moving towards a more modern age. Promiscuity, moral decline, prostitution, unemployment, poverty, police inefficiency... all these things combined to create a feeling of uncertainty and fear.
The East End of London became the focus of that fear. Here lived the uneducated, poverty-ridden and morally destitute masses. When Jack the Ripper walked onto the streets of the East End he came to represent everything that was wrong with the area and with society as a whole. He was fear in a human form, an unknown lurker in the shadows who could cross boundaries and kill.
Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History is not yet another attempt to identify the culprit. Instead, the book sets the murders in their historical context, examining in depth what East London was like in 1888, how it came to be that way, and how events led to one of the most infamous and grisly episodes of the Victorian era.