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Author Topic: Book Review: JACK THE RIPPER; AMERICAN HERO  (Read 2283 times)
Steven G. Miller
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« on: June 09, 2012, 10:51:15 AM »

As promised, here's my review of JACK THE RIPPER; AMERICAN HERO, Jacob Corbett.  N.P., 2012.

Let’s start with a discussion of the relative merits of the book itself and then go to the arguments that the author puts forth.

It’s a well-made paperback of 224 pages. The text is easy to read, but it lacks four things that I think are important in a book: a title page, a copyright page, sources or footnotes, and an index. The book was done via that wonderful and helpful invention for modern writers: desktop page design and print on demand publishing. However, there was obviously no editorial review, just the writer’s own once-over. There are around 16 pages where the text is highlighted; the date of the assassination was given as April 14, 1864, and he refers to Boston Corbett by saying “He had taken down the man who kid {sic, should be "killed"} Abe Lincoln.”

The book is 98% transcription of the inquests for the ripper victims, which is pretty helpful if you want to find out about the killings, but of no use whatsoever if you want to find out about Boston Corbett.

Jacob Corbett, a transplanted Virginian who is now living in Maryland, doesn’t claim any family connection to the hero sergeant, but he tells how kids would tease him by calling him “Boston” when he was young. He read about the Lincoln Assassination, and other crime stories, including the Whitechapel murders in London. He came to “believe” that there was a connection between the 1888 escape of Boston Corbett from the Kansas State Insane Asylum and the Jack the Ripper murders committed three months later.

From his reading, he says, he became convinced that B.C. had murdered people. He cites Booth, for instance, who he said was at the point surrender when Corbett gunned him down without cause and mercy. He also cites the example of the 1875 incident at the reunion in Ohio when Corbett threatened several people with a gun. (He apparently missed the fact that Corbett was rushed by several guys who were arguing with him about whether Booth was dead and that Bos’ “drew iron” to prevent himself from being harmed. Once the spirit of the mob was broken, and they realized that Corbett was not a man to be trifled with the cowards took to their heels and fled. Before this incident, Corbett was the hero of the event and 10,000 vets had stood in line to shake his hand and thank him for his service.) Author Corbett, not one to let facts stand in his way, says in conclusion, “Corbett spent his life killing, first in the war, then killing Booth and saying God told him to do it.”

The most important element about the story for Writer Corbett is the fact that B.C. was a man who “hated himself and hated his penis.” He makes the astonishing claim that “when he was only 26, Corbett became obsessed with both religion and sex and this battle inside him led him to castrate himself with a pair of scissors.” He says that Corbett “removed his own penis” with sheers” because of temptation by streetwalkers. In his conclusion, Writer Corbett says “Jack the Ripper removed the genitalia of many of his victims. This would not make sense unless the killer was trying to right a wrong. Prostitutes were the reason why Boston lost his own sex organs (in his mind) and he’d be the reason these women lost theirs.”

Hold on just a minute: Thomas H. /he-who-would-become Boston Corbett did indeed mutilate himself with a pair of scissors and was treated in the Massachusetts General Hospital for it. From the record, available in Dr. John Lattimer’s book, it is clear that he only opened the scrotum and snipped off his testicles. His, um, “member” was not touched.

There is NO, I repeat the word N-O, evidence that the causal force behind this had anything to do with temptation by hookers. The record says that he was reading the Bible and found the passage in the book of Matthew where Jesus was talking about making yourself a eunuch for the “kingdom of heaven’s sake.” (Matthew 19; 10-12). When I discussed the life of Corbett at the Surratt Society assassination conference, I even stated that I believe he may have done so in order to remain holy to the memory of his dead wife, Susan Rebecca. In other words, it was a supreme – and extreme – act of eternal love.

The three strongest pieces of evidence for Jacob Corbett are these: Boston Corbett’s escape and the murders by Jack the Ripper both took place in 1888; Boston Corbett was originally from London; and, we do not know where Boston Corbett was during the time of the murders. From these things he has reverse engineered his conclusion that Bos went to London and “continued” his killing spree by offing streetwalkers in London.

Let’s look at the record: Boston Corbett’s last verifiable whereabouts were in Neodesha, KS, on June 1, 1888. If Author Corbett is to be believed, Boston Corbett – a sickly, 55-year old man, who had only the clothes in which he escaped on his back, and less than $10 in his pocket – was able to make it to the nearest port 600 to 800 miles away. He was able to board a ship in Houston, Galveston or New Orleans to take him to London. In his physical and impoverished condition he was able to reach that city, which he had left at age 7, nearly half a century before, and where he had no known family or friends. He was able to support himself for weeks, blend in to the populace and commit a startling series of killings without calling attention to himself to either the police or a panicked citizenry.

The writer presents absolutely no evidence to suggest that B.C. did this: there are no sightings of him in London, there is nothing in the inquest transcripts pointing to anyone who looked like Bos’, no paper trail of his travels from America, nothing hinting that he ever set foot in England again, no eyewitnesses who said he was there, and NO PROOF whatsoever to connect Boston Corbett to the killings.

The strongest leap of logic that Writer Corbett makes concerns the supposed connection between Bos and one of the victims. Here’s his astonishing claim from page 148:

“Another clue that points to Corbett as the killer is that (Catherine) Eddowes had told her lodging house keeper that she knew the Ripper’s identity. He warned her to be careful and right after that she was found dead I believe that Eddowes and Corbett knew each other and that (sic) what attracted Corbett to her were the initials of her husband, Thomas Connelly, but crazed Corbett would only see his original name. The name when he found God and his mission of murder.”

Right above that he states that the killer supposedly drew a “V” on the wall near where Eddowes was killed and that this was an upside down “^”, like the chevrons on a Union soldier’s uniform.

And what’s his source for this story? Only his Belief That It Must Have Happened. Not one shred of evidence – just a conviction that it happened.

In conclusion, Jacob Corbett says: “Of all the ripper suspects we’ve seen in the past 100+ years, none of them come as close as Boston Corbett does in fitting all the facts. After all, how many ex-soldiers who hated their own penis and had a history of homicidal mania and insanity could have been walking around London in 1888?”

He can’t actually place Corbett in London, his conclusions about why B.C. might have done the crimes are wrong, and he offers no credible evidence for naming Corbett as the killer. I can make a stronger case that John Wilkes Booth was the Ripper than he did for naming Boston Corbett.

I parted with $14.50 and shipping for this book. Do yourself a favor and go have a nice meal instead.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 08:31:55 PM by Steven G. Miller » Logged
Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2012, 12:03:35 PM »

ARGGH!!! Not DJM-P!!! Didn't I hear that the institute was being moved to Waldorf instead of Qunicy?
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BCorbett1865
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2012, 07:38:23 AM »

Great review Steve! Sounds like another one of those "the Duke of Clarence" did it theories. This one with even less credibility. The Ripper case has always fascinated me. I don't suppose they will ever find out who he was. One thing is certain, he definitely wasn't the Boz!
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Gene C
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2012, 03:24:49 PM »

I'm waiting for the movie.
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The more you know, the more you think the less you know, because you know that you don't know.  The less you know the more you think the more you know, because you don't know that you don't know. 
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2012, 08:52:03 AM »

Just for the fun of it, last night I googled "Jack the Ripper: American Hero", to see if there were another comments or reviews about it. This took me to the Jack the Ripper casebook site and found that there were a handful of posts about it. All of them were negative and one of them mentioned that someone had reviewed the book. I got excited and clicked on the link without looking to see what the reviewer wrote. I had to laugh when the browser took me to  - -  my review of the the durned book on Lincoln-assassination.com!! I had hoped to get a "second opinion" on it, not my own. (But, surprisingly, I agreed with nearly everything that the reviewer -- that is to say, I -- wrote.)

Here's the link . . . to the link to this forum and postings:  http://forum.casebook.org/showthread.php?s=4e6d98f914a42ef427c61e4c9566bd8b&t=6773

Confused? Me, too.

One thing that I learned from the casebook posts: the author Jacob Corbett, apparently didn't even do the inquest transcriptions himself, but just copied them from files that had been posted on the casebook forum. Wow! That's bold!! It true, that's piracy on the level that Capt. Kidd would have admired.

It wasn't an original idea;  Dale Walker had suggested it before. His inquest transcription was lifted from an online site, and the "Bio" of Bos' was paper thin, wrong about the key points (the nature of Corbett's self-surgery and the reasons for it) and he presents zero evidence to substantiate his claims.
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Randal
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2012, 05:11:17 PM »

My, my, my, here we go again!

Another pair of writers think they've figured out who Jack the Ripper was. Authors Christer Holmgren and Edward Stow have decided that the infamous Ripper was Charles Cross, a cart driver who discovered the body of Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols and who lived within walking distance of the other four victims. "The police at the time were looking for some sort of special individual," Stow said. "But most crimes turn out to be someone quite ordinary." Cross was never considered a suspect at the time, despite his presence at the first murder scene or the fact that he lied to police officers when they questioned him. [Source]

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"It was a walking graveyard"
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