A History Of British Serial Killing: The Shocking Account of Jack the Ripper, Harold Shipman and Beyond

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The definitive history of British serial killing 1888-2008 - by the UK's leading expert

In this fascinating and informative book, Professor David Wilson tells the stories of Britain's serial killers from Jack the Ripper to the extraordinary Suffolk Murders case.

David Wilson has worked as a Prison Governor and as a profiler, and has been described as the UK's leading expert on serial killers. His work has led him to meet several of the UK's deadliest killers, and build up fascinating insights into what makes a serial killer - and who they are most likely to target.

A vivid narrative history and a call for prison and social reform, Professor Wilson's new book is a powerful and gripping investigation of Britain's serial murderers.

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About the author

Professor David Wilson is one of the country's leading criminologists, and has written several academic books and papers on serial killers. He is the co-author of HUNTING EVIL about the Suffolk Murders.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Sphere
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Published on
Oct 15, 2009
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780748111725
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Criminals & Outlaws
Biography & Autobiography / Law Enforcement
Law / Criminal Law / General
Psychology / Forensic Psychology
Social Science / Criminology
Social Science / Violence in Society
True Crime / General
True Crime / Murder / General
True Crime / Murder / Serial Killers
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Much has been written about the brutal crimes of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, and - thirty-five years after he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of thirteen women - scarcely a week goes by without some mention of him in the media.

In any story featuring Sutcliffe, however, his victims are incidental, often reduced to a tableau of nameless faces. But each woman was much more than the manner of her death, and in Somebody's Mother, Somebody's Daughter, Carol Ann Lee tells, for the first time, the stories of those women who came into Sutcliffe's murderous orbit, restoring their individuality to them and giving a voice to their families, including the twenty-three children whom he left motherless.

Based on previously unpublished material and fresh, first-hand interviews the book examines the Yorkshire Ripper story from a new perspective: focusing on the women and putting the reader in a similar position to those who lived through that time. The killer, although we know his identity, remains a shadowy figure throughout, present only as the perpetrator of the attacks.

By talking to survivors and their families, and to the families of the murdered women, Carol Ann Lee gets to the core truths of their lives and experiences, not only at the hands of Sutcliffe but also with the Yorkshire Police and their crass and ham-fisted handling of the case, where the women were put into two categories: prostitutes and non-prostitutes. In this book they are, simply, women, and all have moving backstories.

The grim reality is that not enough has changed within society to make the angle this book takes on the Yorkshire Ripper case a purely historical one. Recent news stories have shown that women and girls who come forward to report serious crimes of a sexual nature are often judged as harshly - and often more so - than the men who have wronged them. The Rochdale sex abuse scandal, the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and the US President's deplorable comments about women are vivid reminders that those in positions of power regard women as second class citizens. At the same time, the discussions arising from these recent stories, and much of the reporting, show that women are judged today as much on their preferences, habits and appearance as they were at the time of the Yorkshire Ripper attacks. The son of Wilma McCann, Sutcliffe's first known murder victim, told the author, 'We still have a very long way to go' and in that regard he is correct.

Hard-hitting and wholly unique in approach, this timely book sheds new light on a case that still grips the nation.

The definitive account of one of Britain’s most notorious killer couples, who loved, tortured, and slayed together as husband and wife.

Updated with a new afterword from the author on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the arrests

From the outside, 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester, England, looked as commonplace as the married couple who lived there. But in 1994, Fred and Rose West’s home would become infamous as a “house of horrors” when the remains of nine young women—many of them decapitated, dismembered, and showing evidence of sexual torture—were found interred under its cellar, bathroom floor, and garden. And this wasn’t the only burial ground: Fred’s first wife and nanny were unearthed miles away in a field, while his eight-year-old stepdaughter was found entombed under the Wests’ former residence.
 
Yet, for more than twenty years, the twosome maintained a façade of normalcy while abusing and murdering female boarders, hitchhikers, and members of their own family. Howard Sounes, who first broke the story about the Wests as a journalist and covered the murder trial, has written a comprehensive account of the case. Beginning with Fred and Rose’s bizarre childhoods, Sounes charts their lives and crimes in forensic detail, constructing a fascinating and frightening tale of a marriage soaked in blood. Indeed, the total number of the Wests’ victims may never be known.
 
A case reminiscent of the “Moors Murders” committed in the 1960s in Manchester by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady—as if Hindley and Brady had married and kept on killing for decades—Fred & Rose “is a story of obsessive love as well as obsessive murder” (The Times, London).
This book was the inspiration for the ITV drama Dark Angel. As one of the UK’s leading commentators, David Wilson shows how some serial killers stay in the headlines whilst others rapidly become invisible - or “unseen”. Yet Mary Ann Cotton is not just the first but perhaps the 1st’s most prolific female serial killer, with more victims than Myra Hindley, Rosemary West, Beverly Allit or male predators such as Jack the Ripper and Dennis Nilsen. But her own north east of England (and criminologists) apart, she remains largely forgotten, despite poisoning to death up to 21 victims in Britain’s ‘arsenic century’. Exploding myths that every serial killer is a ‘monster’, the author draws attention to Cotton’s charms, allure, capability, skill and ambition - drawing parallels or contrasting the methods and lifestyles of other serial killers from Victorian to modern times. He also shows how events cannot be separated from their social context – here the industrial revolution, growing mobility, women’s emancipation and greater assertiveness. And concerning the reticence of ‘human nature’, like Dr Harold Shipman, Cotton was allowed to go on killing despite reasons to suspect her. The book contains other resonances to aid understanding of how serial murderers can go undiscovered despite such things as coincidence, gossip, whispers or motives that become more obvious with the benefit of hindsight. It is also a detective story in which the persistence of a single individual saw Cotton tried and executed, events analysed first-hand from the archives and location visits as the author fills the gaps in a remarkable story. By a leading expert on serial killers; Meticulously researched and highly readable; Fresh interpretations mean this book is destined to be the definitive title on Mary Ann Cotton. ‘An enthralling read…David Wilson does not write generic ‘true crime’, but history of the highest order’: Judith Flanders, best-selling author, journalist and historian. David Wilson is Professor of Criminology and Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University. An ex-prison governor he has broadcast for the BBC, Channel 4, Sky and Channel 5 (where he presents ‘Killers Behind Bars’). His books include Serial Killers: Hunting Britons and Their Victims 1960-2006 (2007) and Looking for Laura: Public Criminology and Hot News (2011).
One of the great intellectual battles of modern times is between evolution and religion. Until now, they have been considered completely irreconcilable theories of origin and existence. David Sloan Wilson's Darwin's Cathedral takes the radical step of joining the two, in the process proposing an evolutionary theory of religion that shakes both evolutionary biology and social theory at their foundations.

The key, argues Wilson, is to think of society as an organism, an old idea that has received new life based on recent developments in evolutionary biology. If society is an organism, can we then think of morality and religion as biologically and culturally evolved adaptations that enable human groups to function as single units rather than mere collections of individuals? Wilson brings a variety of evidence to bear on this question, from both the biological and social sciences. From Calvinism in sixteenth-century Geneva to Balinese water temples, from hunter-gatherer societies to urban America, Wilson demonstrates how religions have enabled people to achieve by collective action what they never could do alone. He also includes a chapter considering forgiveness from an evolutionary perspective and concludes by discussing how all social organizations, including science, could benefit by incorporating elements of religion.

Religious believers often compare their communities to single organisms and even to insect colonies. Astoundingly, Wilson shows that they might be literally correct. Intended for any educated reader, Darwin's Cathedral will change forever the way we view the relations among evolution, religion, and human society.
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