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Jack the Ripper, The Facts

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  • Jack the Ripper, The Facts

    A thread for discussion, reviews, and questions of Jack the Ripper, The Facts, Paul Begg.
    Regards Mike

  • #2
    I just started this book. It's the first that I've read on the subject. I picked it because it says that it deals with the facts rather than theories on who the murderer was. As a newcomer to JTR, I thought it best to have an overview before I read about the theories based on fact.

    I found this site because Begg mentions it in the forward. I came here to see what your opinion on the book is- I've read books before only to find that they are not well thought of in the communities that specialize in the subject.

    So my question is, what is your opinion on this book? Is it accurate? Is the author well thought of in the field. So far I find that the book is interesting, well written and seems to deliver what it promises. And it gives an overview of the society of the time. I was surpised to find no comments in this thread. Maybe there is an older thread that covers it.

    I'd really like to hear your opions.

    Thanks very much.


    • #3
      Hi Dicksie

      It is one of my fave's and I once sat and polished it off in a week!
      I love the fact that it is well sourced, and Paul Begg is one hell of a researcher.

      I shall be speaking to him at the weekend on the Ripper Podcast so I will bring up your thoughts on his work.

      Regards Mike


      • #4

        I just want to add to this that there has been some criticism that Begg seems to favor Kosminski and that the book is biased. Of course all books are biased, but I don't see it as a pro-Kosminski effort. He just discussed the viability of him as a suspect, but did not give a conclusion. It was a great read.

        Mike (the good one)


        • #5
          Originally posted by The Good Michael View Post

          I just want to add to this that there has been some criticism that Begg seems to favor Kosminski and that the book is biased. Of course all books are biased, but I don't see it as a pro-Kosminski effort. He just discussed the viability of him as a suspect, but did not give a conclusion. It was a great read.

          Mike (the good one)
          Guess that makes me the bad one!

          I guess all books are biased to some degree.
          His chapters on Kosminski, Druitt and Ostrog were great but it is the earlier stuff I like, the scene setting, and chaoter on "The Begining" and his description of Stephenson as a "Minor eccentric" which are all great reading.
          Regards Mike


          • #6
            Paul Begg's The Facts one of the most biased of the books claiming to not be biased. Paul has some opinions on the case that are pretty far out of the mainstream... which is fine in and of itself because the mainstream isn't necessarily correct, but yet in many cases in the book he presents his own opinions as if they were the facts and pretends (either through omission or outright declaring it) that nobody who says anything different even exists. He really needed to pick whether he was going to present his opinions of a sweeping reinterpretation of the evidence or the objective facts of the case, not pretend to do one and call it the other.

            And the contents are basically one long Mad Polish Jewpalooza lovefest. It'd be one thing for him to just say that he chose to assume that Sir Robert Anderson was more reliable of an official than all the other police officials who disagreed him, but instead he makes the argument that police inherently are infallible when they state an opinion and that to suggest that one might be deluding himself is libel of the most severe kind while ignoring that the police themselves disagreed... So Anderson must have been libeling Macnaghten and Abberline and so forth, but, no, according to Begg Anderson never told a lie in his life (which is pretty unrealistic just in general but has also been shown to be false in other books) and so we must accept what he says because he said it. It's basically one long appeal to authority, and the authorities being appealed to in this case (Begg as author and Anderson as an official) certainly aren't as authoritative as other sources out there.

            If you treat the book as a thinly disguised suspect book, it's a very good book. If you get mislead into thinking it's an unbiased and objective view of the case as a whole, well, you'll be quite confused when you read other highly-respected books on the topic that say quite different things.

            Dan Norder
            Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
            Web site: - Email:


            • #7
              Nicely summed up, Dan, I enjoyed that.
              Remind me not to ask you to review the Myth.


              • #8
                Thank you all for your responses. I'm not surprised that the answers would vary in a field this large.

                If I thought that I could name the murderer after reading one book, then I would be on my guard when I read about Kominski! ... (Of course, if I thought that I could name the murderer after reading one book, then I would deserve whatever answer I came up with!)

                At this point I'm just looking for an introduction and it seems that I'll find it in this book.

                Thank you all, again.


                • #9
                  Beware, my friend, for this is a pretty deep pool to dip a toe into! Should you find yourself interested in finding out more, I'd suggest the Ripper A - Z, and {in my opinion - and I'd welcome a challenge to it -} perhaps the most unbiased of all the Ripper books, Philip Sugden's "The Complete History of Jack the Ripper". Should you get through all three, the next forty six will seem like a cake walk!
                  "If you listen to the tills you can hear the bells toll. You can hear what a state we're in".


                  • #10
                    Deep and murky! Mmmm, and a bit daunting. I'm just finishing the chapter on leather apron and already feel the need for diagrams and timelines and cast of character references.

                    Low and beholde I found them on this site! It really helps keep a frame of reference as I'm reading. The information is clear and concise, but it moves very quickly and my brain doesn't soak up information as quickly as i'd lke.

                    What a wonderful site! I'm sorry to read of your recent troubles and I'm amazed that you all worked so hard to reconstruct your site.

                    To return to the subject... with the understanding that all books to a certain extent have instances where bias must creep in .... I'm finding the book informative, interesting and well written. I'm satisfied with my first book. Especially because of the research mentionedf by Mike above.

                    Mr. Gardener, (I don't know what else to call you) I appreciate your suggestions for furthrer reading. As I tend to serial read on a subject for a while, I will certainly take your advice.

                    Thank you all again for your help!

                    Dicksie Cribb


                    • #11
                      For me there is but one book that presents what was and is known about the Investigation into the Whitechapel murders and Jack the Ripper-a thorough and "unbiased" source book and a brief guide to who was what in the Appendix and chapter introductions.
                      This is "The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook",by Stewart Evans and Keith Skinner.
                      Here if you want to find them are a few of the strange shenanigans of Robert Anderson,a when it came to his dispute with the most senior Police Surgeon of all the Police Surgeon -in-Chief and four other police surgeons over the demise of Rose Mylett.Hugely instructive it is too when you read right through that chapter to its bitter end.
                      Ofcourse Paul Begg also provides us with detailed and very important information throughout "The Facts" but it is a book more narrative in style and does not contain detailed accounts of every inquest report available,every doctors medical report-as far as we know and as in the above case, the huge row that erupted over the cause of death of Rose Mylett.
                      Paul Begg does though provide us with detailed information about Major Henry Smith,who took Robert Anderson to task over his Polish Jew theory.Major Smith had been Acting Chief Commissioner for the City Police and,unlike Robert Anderson who was still in Paris when Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were murdered,actually went to Mitre Square within hours of Catherine being found and saw the body for himself as well as receiving first hand reports of the City Police Suspect.He rejected in its entirety the "Polish Jew" theory,believing it to be arrant nonsense and spoke of his own conviction that the murderer was a gentile.
                      Both books are very important.The Source book is crucial.
                      Last edited by Natalie Severn; 05-19-2008, 11:26 AM.


                      • #12
                        Thank you Natalie. I can see this book as very important down the road and very important in my "serial" reading as I get more detailailed. As I near the end of
                        "facts". I will look for more depth, but one that treats me as the novice that I certainly am. Too deep and I'll sink in minutie meant for avancd fans.

                        I can see that I'm building a quaiity list and and I'll treat their content with respect.

                        Again, I appreciate the time that you've given to me in presenting these gookds. I don't take you suggestions lightly.

                        Right now I'm being treated to a gentle introduction of the early suspects that fizzleded out. Again I stess that this is what I need right now. The next book will be more daunting. So again I thank you all for your input.


                        • #13
                          Of course, "gookds" is a late night word meaning "books." This strange language occurs late at night when I'm way past my bedtime!! Edit button anyone?!!!

                          Yes, I'm going to bed now!


                          • #14
                            Hi Dicksie Cribb

                            Perhaps it should be explain to you that Dan Norder runs a rival publication to Paul Begg...I would simply take his comments with a pinch of salt, or Berner Street grapes..

                            I use the Facts as one of my main reference books. Clearly Paul has a vast knowledge on Kosminski because of his involvement with Martin Fido, and the Cohen, Kaminsky Kosminski theories..

                            For me a good hard understanding of why Druit and Kosminski are considered the top suspects in the case are the building blocks of Ripperology...

                            t'boot Paul is an excellent writer and as Mike pointed out it is the kind of book you find yourself reading very quickly and wanting more..

                            Which luckily there is the Definitive History...

                            Yours Jeff


                            • #15
                              It's unfortunate, but not a real surprise, that someone who is a devoted Kosminski supporter loves Begg's book so much that he ignores the many problems with it and chooses to make personal attacks on anyone who points out those errors.

                              It should be noted that my review of The Facts that ran in Ripper Notes at a time when Begg and I (and, by extension, Ripperologist and Ripper Notes) were still on very good terms (he was submitting articles to the magazine, we were both cross promoting the publications, etc.) praised it overall but still did note that Begg made claims that no authors disagreed with certain claims that were just false and the other points that I make to this day. Those comments are an objective review of the book from someone with no suspect to push or any agenda other than expecting that a book titled The Facts would be just that. Unfortunately Begg, despite the overall good review, responded very poorly.

                              Whenever somebody tries to portray me as lashing out at rival publications, all the really needs to be pointed out is that the editorial staffs of the Whitechapel Society 1888 Journal and Ripper Notes get along splendidly. It doesn't take long to figure out where (and, primarily, who) the real problem is.

                              Dan Norder
                              Ripper Notes: The International Journal for Ripper Studies
                              Web site: - Email: