The Hallie Rubenhold controversy reared its ugly head again on the Censorship Forum in a thread called 'A Petticoat Parley: Women In Ripperology'.
At #96 in the thread, a certain Paul Begg wanted to empty his spleen having been upset by a positive review of Hallie's book in the student newspaper 'Varsity'. He wailed that not only does the reviewer not know why Ripperologists are critical of the book, but 'she apparently can't be arsed to find out'. He then said, in a superior tone:
'Now, if I was reviewing a book and a bunch of people were vehemently criticising it, I'd hopefully be sufficiently interested to find out what the criticism was all about in case it had a bearing on my review and recommendations'.
Hmmmmnnn. Did he, I wonder, take the same approach when reviewing Robert Smith's 'The True History of the Diary of Jack the Ripper' for the March 2020 edition of Ripperologist? After all, by then I'd published detailed criticisms of the book in my article Not True, Funny How it Seems which appeared as early as 27 October 2019 (not to mention my criticisms of the first edition, and the errors I pointed out in that edition, in The False Facts Exposed! which had been published as long ago as September 2017, many of which errors had been left uncorrected in the revised edition). Begg had plenty of time to find out what the criticism of Smith's book was all about prior to the publication of his review.
Yet, in that review he wrote:
'He [Robert Smith] is as fair as he could be expected to be, I think, given that he believes it to be genuine. But he intends to give readers all the information they need to enable them to reach their conclusions'.
Pass the sick bag! As fair as he could be expected to be! What does that even mean? Unfair? If Smith was actually being unfair should he not have said so? If he thinks Smith was being fair, how could he possibly have reached such a conclusion in the light of my detailed criticisms.
While Begg noted in his review that the diary is often dismissed as an obvious an amateurish fake, there was not one single criticism of Smith's book in his review. Not one! No criticism of the way Smith presented the case for the diary being genuine and no sign that the reviewer understood the many criticisms of the book which had already been publicly made and were easily available to him. On the contrary, Begg noted that this new edition of the book 'corrects a few errors' from the first edition, making it seem that it was now error free. A blatant misrepresentation of the true position.
Did Begg read my articles about Smith's book? If not, how does that square with his claim that he hopes he'd be sufficiently interested when reviewing a book to read the criticism of it? If he did, how did he manage to write a review in which he did little more than fawn over the clarity of the facsimile of the diary and say that 'anyone seriously interested in Ripper history should have this book in their Ripper library'. Really? If the diary is nothing more than an obvious and amateurish fake why should anyone seriously interested in Ripper history want to go near it with a bargepole? Why should they care about the clarity of the reproduction of this shabby fake?
It makes no sense.
If you've not thrown up enough from being reminded of Begg's review of Smith's book, you need to read Crazy Ally Ryder earlier in the same thread telling us that, 'Rubenhold is intellectually lazy and worse, she is intellectually dishonest' (#81), someone who is 'incapable of responding to anything without resorting to tantrums of a toddler'. Does anyone recall Ally Ryder's intellectually lazy and worse response to the 2018 thread about Tumblety? One she didn't even bother to read in full before concluding that poor Hawley - that great intellectually honest author - was being badgered and harassed? It's funny coz when I tried to engage her in an intellectually honest discussion of her ruling in a private communication she wasn't interested. All I got was the tantrum of a toddler!
When it comes to intellectual laziness it's hard to forget Crazy Ally's own post in the thread 'There's something wrong with the Swanson marginalia' (#710) in which she said on 28 January 2011:
'Any person attempting to deny there is an argument that the marginalia has clearly been tampered with is just trying to be blindly obstinate and argue against known facts.'
Really? And if anyone doesn't think she's had plenty tantrums of a toddler on the boards while supposedly moderating them over the years they haven't been concentrating.
Further, says Crazy Ally about Hallie (#94):
'...that's the chief problem...She palms off her trashnovellas as non-fiction and how much damage will she do to the historical record by including her pure fiction into the record as "fact". That's the cancer of Hallie and her ilk - lazy people who care more about their commercialism than the historical record, polluting it with their drama and nonsense. I wouldn't trust anything she writes, because she has proven she can't separate fact from fantasy, if she's got something to sell.'
That's all real funny coz when I was attempting to challenge Mike Hawley about the damage HE was doing on ALLY RYDER'S OWN FORUM to the historical record with his false and unsupported claims that the police specially employed twelve constables to hunt for Francis Tumblety at London train stations, and that Special Branch officers followed Tumblety across Europe, as well as many other false claims, she CLOSED THE FUCKING THREAD!!! That's how much she cared in 2018 about the historical record being polluted with drama and nonsense in a thread which was specifically created to promote and sell Hawley's book!
And it's real funny because when I was challenging Simon Wood about his very similar claims to Hallie on her own Forum about the victims not being prostitutes, I don't remember any contributions from Crazy Ally or the pompous Paul Begg. Nor do I recall their constant criticisms of Wood's book. What's the actual difference between Wood and Rubenhold? Is it just that Rubenhold was better at marketing and selling her book? Wood had a similar nonsensical idea to sell.
Begg's review of Simon Wood's 'Deconstructing Jack' in Rip 143 was devastating and to the point - for the first half at least - but then, bafflingly, for the second half of the review, Begg seemed to take pity on his old drinking buddy saying:
'Deconstructing Jack is probably the best Ripper book of 2015...a must have.'
I can't imagine what shit was published in that year for him to be able to say that.
According to Begg:
'Every chapter makes you think and re-assess'.
Well yeah, if by that he meant that every chapter makes you think 'What a load of crap this book is'.
Then we got this inexplicable statement:
'...these criticisms should not blind you to what a superb book this actually is'.
According to Begg, it was 'Very well researched, most important sources properly cited...'.
I Begg to differ. That book was not very well researched and when you go to check the sources you realize that they are not properly cited at all.
Then, fuck me, we got this from Begg:
'every chapter takes a close look at one or more aspects of the case, such as the real reason for Monro's departure from Scotland Yard'.
Here we find Begg with unclean hands.
As I've said before, Begg and Skinner's 1993 'The Scotland Yard Files' fucked up the historical record by claiming that there was some kind of mystery with Monro's departure from Scotland Yard. This was based on incorrect facts and basic misunderstandings of what occurred in 1889. And it was a serious error. When I was checking the facts in Simon Wood's book about Monro's resignation, one of the first books I consulted was Begg and Skinner's 'The Scotland Yard Files', which is on the open shelves at the National Archives, and I was very surprised to see that they agreed that there was indeed some sort of hidden reason behind Monro's resignation as Commissioner (and, indeed, they possibly instigated the idea of there being some kind of mystery involved with it). When I probed deeper I was shocked at how mistaken those esteemed authors were. While I might expect such nonsense from a conspiracy nutjob like Simon Wood I expected to get a serious historical analysis from Begg and Skinner but they didn't provide it.
Even worse, when I asked Begg directly about it on the Forum in 2015, having set out the correct reason for Monro's resignation in the final part of my Suckered! Trilogy here, he failed to take the opportunity to acknowledge his error, let alone correct it. This is despite him having written in Rip 146, 'I am considerably less interested in the making of mistakes than I am in the correction of them. I am concerned with establishing the facts...'. Yet, he hasn't acknowledged or corrected the error in his 1993 book to this day, despite me repeatedly pressing the point here, which shows how concerned he really is about the historical record.
Given Begg's concern about reviewers not being properly informed, it's worth having a look at some other rubbish with Begg has reviewed.
Amusingly, by the end of 2015, Begg was having second thoughts about Deconstructing Jack being the best book of the year. For in Rip 147, the review of Jonathan Hainsworth's dreadful 'Case Solved 1891' said:
'Overall 2015 kept the best for last. If you had to buy one Ripper book this year, this would be it'.
Not sure how Wood's 2015 book could have been a 'must have' if Hainsworth's 2015 book was the one Ripper book of the year that you had to have. You can find out here why you really did not need to buy Hainsworth's book.
Earlier, in 2014, Begg had reviewed Patricia Cornwell's nonsensical 'Chasing the Ripper' about Walter Sickert. Rather than recusing himself from the review because he had worked with Cornwell and liked her, he reviewed the book and said:
'I think the prejudice against Patricia and her book is probably too great for either to receive a fair hearing, but for those who can get past the ill-feeling I think there are some interesting things coming to light which deserve to be looked at rather more closely than they have been'.
For anyone interested in what actually happens when you look closely at the contents of one of Patricia Cornwell's books about Sickert, see: Cornwell's Patsy.
The main point I want to make about Hallie's book is that it is no different in essence from all the other crap Ripper books that have been written over the years. The difference is that the marketing of her book has been amazingly successful and people are talking about it outside the narrow world of Ripperology. It's this which seems to wind up people like Begg and Ryder. For I've never seen them anywhere near as agitated and annoyed about all those daft books by other Ripper writers.
First published in Lord Orsam Says...Part 20 on 20 November 2021
Republished 14 May 2022