The Fox and the Flies: The Criminal World of the Whitechapel Murderer

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Van Onselen, Charles 1944–

For example, he gets excited about merchant ships docking during the period of the Whitechapel murders and focuses on The Sylph. You wade through the detail assuming it's going to go somewhere. The main problem for all Ripperologists is that the contemporary evidence doesn't provide any clue about the identity of the Ripper - and what remains of that evidence is pretty scanty. The few original documents that have survived in the National Archive in Kew are published this month.


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Most of the rest have been lost or stolen. What remains has a gruesome fascination but shows the police were as clueless as anybody else. Not that that will stop other theorists using them like the Kabbalah to produce other interpretations. Until the next time, then.


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  • The Fox And The Flies: The Criminal World Of The Whitechapel Murderer.
  • The Fox And The Flies - Charles van Onselen?
  • Topics Crime fiction The Observer. But what those in charge of law-enforcement agencies kept to themselves was how their officers had attempted to use Silver as an informer to infiltrate syndicates, only to have him outwit them as he moved in the dangerous space between police and prostitutes.

    In this brilliant study, Charles van Onselen situates the private life of one man amidst the demi-monde of the Atlantic world and casts a brilliant light on the most infamous serial killer of all time - Jack the Ripper. The book jacket presented this as a book about a criminal who was theorized to be Jack the Ripper. It was not much about that but did tell the tale of a Polish refuge Jew who went to London and later Van Onselen's argument is sophisticated and massively supported by circumstantial evidence, including biblical understandings.

    Van Onselen, Charles 1944–

    No stone has been left unturned; no psychological insight ignored. But "Ripperologists" will have to make the final assessment. What we do know is that Silver was part of an underbelly - the flotsam - of those huge Jewish migrations out of Eastern Europe from the late 19th century. For many of these victims of Tsarist oppression, absorption into the new world was fraught with difficulties.

    The Fox And The Flies: The World Of Joseph Silver, Racketeer And Psychopath by Charles van Onselen

    Ill- equipped, ill at ease and uncomfortable in their new surroundings, a small but significant number of these hapless migrants turned to crime. Lis was among them. Throughout his life he lived by his wits, forever damaged by a problematic relationship with his mother and always informed by memories of a ne'er-do-well father.


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    • He wreaked havoc in the port cities of the Atlantic and the Pacific. Silver knew the inside of courtrooms from Cape Town to Valparaiso.

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      He exploited the vulnerability of women and understood the weaknesses and foibles of those charged to uphold the law. The Fox and the Flies is a story of continuous movement, manipulation, intrigue and double crossing. Sometimes working with the law, but mostly against it, Silver is an unforgettable character. His misogynistic and criminal life has been recovered through a meticulous examination of archival documents, among them criminal court records, Jewish communal records, police records, and newspapers on four continents.

      Van Onselen even traces the word amaSilva to a variation of Silver's mother's name, Kwekzylber, a result of the gangster sodomising a black prison inmate while serving time in the Johannesburg Fort. Impimpi - a police informer - is another word in the South African lexicon that owes its origins to the pimp from Kielce.

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      Van Onselen is a detective par excellence.


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