Jack the Ripper: The Making of the Myth
Jack the Ripper: The Making of the Myth
Authors: John G. Bennett
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: Blurb.com (20 June 2011)
Another book? Another load of information to be read, re-read and digest? What can possibly be written on the subject of Jack the Ripper, from a factual standpoint that hasn't already been said, written, discussed and argued about a hundred times before? The answer is THIS book.
John Bennett has taken the subject back to it's basic roots in a way no other author has done. He looks not at the argument and counter-argument proposing one tiny detail vis a vis another, in an effort to put forward the answer to the long lost equation "Who" was Jack the Ripper, but focuses instead on "Why" was Jack the Ripper. The 123 years of articles, newspaper and magazine, film, documentary, discussions amongst Ripperologists, the tours, the on-line, the money-making ideas of locals, the objections to the anniversary from various groups, the books, the periodicals.. it's all there. It is a fascinating read.
Attempting to put all of this together in some sort of chronological detail is a mammoth task. To achieve this, and whilst keeping in mind that the general everyday person knows little of the case details, he therefore writes in a style that everyday man can equate to on a more ordinary level. This is no mean feat. The subject is horrendously complicated. John Bennett has made it far easier, for many more than the enthusiastic "Ripperologist".
This book has an additional hidden value however. The overview of the build-up of "Ripperia" if that is the correct terminology, is almost complete, or as near complete as anyone has ever attempted before. The development of the interest, the use of the case itself to market and sell products, the changes in the ages of Ripperology, from a specialist crime genre almost, to a world-wide industry, are all shown. Here and there, small nuggets of information, long bypassed or even forgotten, appear, and the research that uncovers each and every lineage shows us that the author has the genealogy of Ripperia well-covered. This, ladies and gentleman, brings in a valuable asset to the understanding of what we, the interested party, see as our interest, but invites the mildly interested to become au.fait with the genre. We now understand the why's and wherefores of the Ripper industry. The social background to the ever-lasting interest, as it were. If there are things the author has left out, then there is certainly not much, and it would surely have been included if the author has inadvertantly forgotten it. I for one am scratching around to find one such example, although a book or two written in the past may have been overlooked. It is very difficult however, to find fault, and on this occasion, would be churlish to attempt to do so.
This is an important book. It explores so many things, from the changing attitudes towards the victims to the changing attitudes towards the suspects and much about the lore of the subject. It isn't strange that some, even today, have no idea that there really WAS a set of murders which became linked with the name "Jack the Ripper", this book explains WHY some think that. WHY some still say "It's to do with some Royal bloke isn't it?".. and WHY there are so-many misunderstandings surrounding this whole, 123 year old genre.
They say the simplest of explanations normally give the true answer. Well, this book won't tell you who Jack the Ripper is. It will tell you however, WHY Jack the Ripper is what he/it/they/we/is/are.. etc etc. It's Ripperology made simple.
This book is highly important and I thoroughly and wholeheartedly recommend this for all to go and purchase. In it's way, it shows another side of Ripperology. As Sugden's book is a classic, and one or two of Evans' are "musts", this sits alongside those books for very different reasons. It is background material that shows us WHY a set of terrible and serious crimes have become mythical. That in itself, has never been done before in this way, on this scale.
Along with those examples given, this book should sit proudly amongst them. It is top shelf material. I applaud the effort made, the content and the writing style. I cannot praise this work highly enough.
Reviewed by Phil Carter