At the end of the nineteenth century European pimps and 'white slavers' established a hugely successful global market for commercial sex and for three turbulent decades before the First World War, Joseph Silver was central to this hidden world of betrayal, intrigue, lust and sexual slavery. Burglar, gun-runner and trafficker in women on four continents, Silver was a disturbed adolescent, youthful predator and adult misogynist whose notoriety was captured in the most confidential correspondence of a dozen countries in the western world. 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.
Charles van Onselen is an acclaimed biographer who has been honoured with visiting fellowships at Cambridge, Oxford and Yale. A graduate of Rhodes University, Grahamstown, and St. Antony's College, Oxford, his earlier works on the social history of southern Africa won him, amongst others, the American African Studies Association's Herskovits Prize, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies' Trevor Reese Memorial Prize and the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction. He has published extensively in leading historical journals in America, England and France. A Fellow of the Royal Society (S.A.) he has recently been a visiting fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford, and the recipient of an honorary doctorate in literature from Rhodes University. He is currently Research Professor in the Faculty of Humanities, at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.