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  • Jack the Ripper, An Encyclopedia

    A thread for discussion, questions and reviews of Jack the Ripper, An Encyclopedia, John J Eddleston.
    Regards Mike

  • #2
    Originally posted by Mike Covell View Post
    A thread for discussion, questions and reviews of Jack the Ripper, An Encyclopedia, John J Eddleston.
    I was loaned this book so I had a limited amount of time to read what I wanted to know. From memory it was quite good. It had a reference, so I could check suspects out quite quickly.

    Some books that don't, annoy me! I bought one book on spec and when I got it home, I found it didn't have one word about a favoured suspect!

    his book would be a good reference book I think, but am not yet sure since I am fairly new to this subject.

    Regards

    Eileen

    Comment


    • #3
      It is a pretty slim book for an encyclopedia and an encyclopedia is a reference book which is why I thought it was odd that it starts out with a lot of criticism of Ripper writers. In the preface he talks of perpetuating myths, errors, invention and sloppy research which is setting himself high standards right at the start. I suppose what he says is true but it seems to me that he is just asking for criticism himself. He does say that he thinks the best books are the ones that give just the facts and review the evidence and just give an opinion on who Jack might have been. He says there's no room for subjective speculation and interpretation in a reference work. So I guess any thoughts on this book should keep all this in mind.

      Comment


      • #4
        At first glance its a nice handy to have book but further inspection reveals errors and pointless information.
        The book sets out to be an encyclopedia but begins to push the belief that George Hutchinson was Jack the Ripper!
        In doing so the Suspects section rules out some of the stronger contenders and pushes some of the weaker.
        The newspaper article section is a bit of a let down with sporadic articles and not much flow.

        Don't get me wrong, I do like the book (my pages are all falling out) but with anything in this field, tread carefully, and double check facts.
        Regards Mike

        Comment


        • #5
          "I do like the book (my pages are all falling out)"

          Don't worry Mike, a lot of other readers have reported the same problem.

          Must be something wrong with the binding, although mine is still intact.

          Rgds
          John

          Comment


          • #6
            This was the first Ripper book I had that I really USED. The intentions and layouts are really good. The only issues are the conclusions on the suspects and a lot of schoolboy errors - exactly the myths John Eddelston was talking about. However, I wouldn't screw my face up if someone told me they favoured the book.

            PHILIP
            Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.

            Comment


            • #7
              This is a coincidence. I was just transferring files from an old computer and had decided to delete this. These are excerpts from a review of Eddleston's book that I wrote in 2001 for a non-specialized audience, i.e., people with an interest in legal and criminal issues but without a particular interest in JtR, so some of the comments will be obvious to aficianados. Anyway, this might be of use to newcomers.....


              Despite the subtitle, this is not simply an alphabetically arranged series of entries. It begins with a concise, well-organized synopsis of each of the murder investigations and discusses 18 possible victims. In a summary section, Eddleston concludes that eight women likely fell victim to Jack although, as has become fashionable lately, he believes that Elizabeth Stride, the first victim of the so-called “double event” of 30 September 1888, should, perhaps, not be included. The book also contains detailed street maps (among the best published so far) and new photographs of the murder sites as they now look. Unfortunately, at a time when extensive footnotes have become a mandatory aspect of serious Ripper research, this book contains none. And while the discussions of the murders are quite good, they are not as good as those in Philip Sugden’s monumental The Complete History of Jack the Ripper which appeared, early in 2002, in revised paperback editions published by Robinson in London and by Carroll & Graf in New York.

              The encyclopedic part of the book consists of separate chapters in which the witnesses, the police, “others who played a part”, and suspects (an astounding 114 of them) are each summarized in alphabetical entries. This can be rather confusing since a researcher has to know into which category a subject fits before it can be looked up. (One can, of course, use the index, although that seems to defeat the purpose of creating an alphabetical list in the first place.) In addition to naming the many suspects, Eddleston also ranks each of them on a scale from 0 to 5 on their chances of being the Ripper. The large number of possible suspects seems, frankly, excessive---especially since many of them are introduced only to be immediately discounted. And several of the major suspects (except, of course, for Eddleston’s own favourite) seem to be dismissed from consideration rather cavalierly. In any event, the encyclopedic aspect of the book cannot compete with what is unquestionably the leading reference book in the field, The Jack the Ripper A-Z (London: Headline, 1996) compiled by Paul Begg, Martin Fido, and Keith Skinner.

              In a final summary, Eddleston opts for George Hutchinson as the most likely of the named suspects. This is certainly not a novel suggestion since this witness, who figured prominently in the Mary Jane Kelly murder inquiry, has become an increasingly popular candidate in recent years. In fact, his candidacy was thoroughly explored by Bob Hinton in From Hell: The Jack the Ripper Mystery (Abertillery, Wales: Old Bakehouse Publications, 1998). Now, admittedly, From Hell has its own set of problems. It, too, has no footnotes and is very obviously in need of a good editor and proofreader; nonetheless, it contains much the same information on Hutchinson as Jack the Ripper: An Encyclopedia but at a fraction of the cost.

              There is a chapter devoted to correspondence, which includes a discussion of several of the letters allegedly written by the murderer. Eddleston includes the letter dated 17 September 1888 (HO 144/221/A49301C) that was first published in Paul Feldman’s Jack the Ripper: The Final Chapter (London: Virgin, 1997). He refers to this letter two or three times and places a great deal of importance on it. Unfortunately, very few Ripper researchers consider the letter to be genuine; nearly all believe it to be a modern hoax that was planted among the official documents in the Public Record Office. Now, there is nothing wrong with Eddleston’s deciding that the letter is real and using its contents accordingly; but he should, at the very least, advert to the fact that there is serious disagreement among the experts as to the letter’s authenticity. To do any less is to mislead his readers.

              A potentially very useful chapter deals with the myths and errors that have crept into Ripper research over the years. The canards that he attempts to explode deal with only the five canonical victims (Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes, and Kelly) and, once again, the undertaking is hampered by the lack of footnoting. Eddleston lists neither the sources of the myths nor the sources of his (presumably correct) answers, so the value of the section is rather limited.

              A chapter dealing with “The Literature” contains an annotated listing of some of the books and films that have dealt with Jack the Ripper. The list hits most of the major items that should be brought to the attention of novice researchers in the field, but they are mixed in with a lot of material that should be avoided. Eddleston could have been a little more conscientious in separating the wheat from the chaff. And, in his discussion of the errors that exist in some of the better-known books, references to the relevant page numbers would have been helpful. Just prior to the final summary mentioned above, the book concludes, interestingly, in the same way as From Hell, with detailed directions on how to conduct your own “Ripper walk” through the East End.

              The last difficulty with this book is its remarkably high price. If the cost were more reasonable, it would be easier to recommend the book because it does contain some very useful information. As it is, however, probably only serious collectors of Ripperana should purchase it. It’s not that this is a bad book; it’s just that there are better books available, for much less money, which cover more or less the same ground.

              Comment


              • #8
                When is the new edition of the A-Z being released?
                This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

                Stan Reid

                Comment


                • #9
                  Stan,

                  Amazon says it's supposed to be released this month.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks Maurice - that's good news. Hopefully that applies to America.
                    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

                    Stan Reid

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you have a new re-release date for the A-Z guys put it on the A-Z thread, I for one want a copy!!!
                      Regards Mike

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Big delays with the new A-Z as far as I know.

                        Still, the longer it takes to come out, the longer TLoJtRTaN will remain the best-selling Ripper book on Amazon!

                        PHILIP
                        Tour guides do it loudly in front of a crowd.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Philip,

                          TLoJtRTaN
                          ???

                          inquizatively
                          Nicole
                          ---------------------------------------------------
                          "We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow."
                          - Ted Bundy

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Philip is probably too shy (har!) to tell you what it stands for, but it's the book written by Philip and Robert Clack, The London of Jack the Ripper Then and Now.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi GM,

                              Philip is probably too shy (har!) to tell you what it stands for, but it's the book written by Philip and Robert Clack, The London of Jack the Ripper Then and Now.
                              Ah!!! Makes perfect sence now. I looked and looked and looked at it and couldn't figure it out! I first thought he was 'bad-mouthing' another book, for a second (ie. the biggest selling book is that #@$JTR*&^ Cornwell book, for example).

                              I was way off!!

                              I'll sleep better now! Thx Mo.

                              Nicole
                              ---------------------------------------------------
                              "We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow."
                              - Ted Bundy

                              Comment

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