This exacting book adds a cogent historical investigation to the relatively few intelligent books about the father of all serial killers. Sensationalistic distortion and overimaginative theorizing have been part of this anonymous criminal's history since the first contemporaneous tabloid stories on the Whitechapel murders and continue in the inquiries of modern ``Ripperologists.'' For example, the letter signed ``Yours truly, Jack the Ripper'' that christened the legend was probably a journalist's headline-grabbing forgery, perpetuated in more hoax letters from the Ripper-crazed public. British historian Sugden corrects such myths and errors with donnish competitiveness, spending only a little time dispatching the more bizarre hypotheses (such as the recent Ripper diary hoax, the fanciful implication of the royal family in the murders, and the innumerable post-Victorian pseudo-suspects). Avoiding the penny-dreadful archives of Ripperology, he diligently approaches the voluminous police work and forensic evidence on the ``canonical'' four victims, all prostitutes, and an equal number of possible ones. Drawing on previous research and his own, he reexamines the eyewitnesses' testimony, inquest reports, newspaper accounts, and police leads (and red herrings). Although the material is still compelling and timely after a century, Sugden's sometimes sluggish prose and narrative do not bring to life the panicked atmosphere of the East End or the tensions within the police department. In the end, though many inconsistencies are swept away and many ambiguities left warily intact, Sugden produces an approximate modus operandi around which a convincing psychological profile can be constructed. His examination of suspects exonerates previous favorites, such as Michael Ostrog, whom Assistant Chief Constable Melville Macnaghten called a ``mad Russian doctor''; but with even his preferred suspect, a Polish con man and poisoner, he reaches the verdict ``not proven.'' Sugden's factual treatment of the murders provides a meticulous and reasoned profile for readers and future detectives. (Photos and maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-7867-0124-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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