My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Typical researcher that I am, I’m afraid I have been dipping in and out of this book to find out what it was like to be in the East End during the 1880s. But incomplete as my reading is, I have decided to review Drew D. Gray’s book. You see, this it well written an well researched – in a word it is a joy.
Most books that deal with this period of London’s history are sensationalist, focussing on the Ripper and his activities rather than looking at the context of the murder, the state of the East End; the ethnic mix, the geographical complexity of the situation. And for me, this is why this book scores highly.
Yes, the Whitechapel murders are the focal point of this book. It was the biggest “thing” to happen in the East End after all. And yet, through this book, I have learned about: the increasing professionalism of the police and the work of the courts; as well as what drove the women of whitechapel to prostitution and the desperate poverty and disease that was endemic in the area.
To be honest, this is one of the best books I have read about Victorian London in a a long time. If you want to know about the London underbelly you cannot go far wrong by reading this book.