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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood (original 1965; edition 2011)

by Truman Capote, Rupert Thomson (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
14,979300130 (4.16)1 / 565
Title:In Cold Blood
Authors:Truman Capote (Author)
Other authors:Rupert Thomson (Introduction)
Info:The Folio Society, Hardcover, 2011
Collections:Your library
Tags:Crime, Biography, Reportage, Folio Society

Work details

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)

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    Operación Masacre by Rodolfo Walsh (chrisharpe)
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    The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima (GYKM)
    GYKM: In 1956, Yukio Mishima not only conducted background research into the crime that he would base his psychological novel on but he also interviewed the arsonist. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is a melding of fiction, fact, and autobiography.
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English (278)  Spanish (9)  French (2)  Catalan (2)  Hungarian (1)  Dutch (1)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (298)
Showing 1-5 of 278 (next | show all)
I don’t usually do this but I’m going to start this review with the negatives first. Keep reading, though. I will get to the upside eventually.

Reading In Cold Blood makes the journalist and editor in me squirm. Having been educated and trained that if you can’t document something five ways to Sunday it shouldn’t be put into print, I initially found Truman Capote’s first and final foray into true crime writing somewhat presumptuous, to say the least.

With In Cold Blood, Truman Capote wanted readers to believe he had invented a new literary art form, the 'nonfiction novel' and yet nowhere on the cover or anywhere in the book does he
suggest that this is anything other than the ' True Account of a Multiple Murder...' that the title says it is. Capote went on the talk shows and touted his 94% total recall (or 98%, he couldn't remember which) and swore that anybody who disagreed with his version of the events was either mistaken or lying. But the truth is that there were some things that he described in the book that could never be anything more than speculation. In other places in the book, Capote deliberately changed known events or dialog. If he was indeed writing a history or a True Account then he would have stuck with what was known and added caveats to what was speculation.

The suggestion that he invented the nonfiction novel genre is ridiculous. It wasn't even new when Ned Buntline wrote Wild Bill's Last Trail. I'm not saying speculative history isn't valuable. About 50 'biographies' have been written about Doc Holliday and not one of those so-called true accounts come close to being as historically accurate as Mary Doria Russell's recent book ‘Doc: A Novel’. Jeff Shaara has made a career out of it yet he still includes the following caveat in each book.

The events in this story are true, and the participation of each character is as close to exact as I could make it. But this is not a history book….However accurately I have tried to portray each character, in the end each must be my own interpretation,…

With all that said, I really loved this book. That seems creepy since it is the story of the gruesome murder of four people for the most venial reasons. Even so, the story is immediately captivating. The characters involved, especially the killers, are described in such intimate detail that you almost believe you know them. You are simultaneously attracted to and disgusted by them and feel both sympathy and anger for them, often at the same time. This, I believe, is what Capote was trying to do with his 'nonfiction novel'.

Capote’s skill was in the way he shaped the narrative. Everything he wrote in this book was done for effect. In one scene he describes how one of the killers would intentionally run down and kill dogs on the highway. Regardless of whether this was true or not, and I have no reason to believe it didn't, adding that scene to the book shaped how you feel about the person who did it in a very visceral way. I believe that Truman Capote wanted you to feel that way.

It has been almost fifty years since this book was first released and it is still a very engaging and thrilling. I struggle to imagine the impact it would have had on me had I read it when the events it described were fresh in the memories of the survivors.

Bottom line: Truman Capote did not play by the rules when he wrote In Cold Blood. He threw out the rulebooks and made up his own rules. He took an actual event, a gruesome crime, and used his craft to bring it to life. The sad truth is that if he had not written this book, no one outside of Holcomb, Kansas, would even remember the Clutter family or Perry Smith or Dick Hickok. The murders effectively ended the lives of all of them but Truman Capote gave them all immortality. ( )
  Unkletom | Aug 22, 2015 |
I don't know what to say. I can't see how my review can do this work any justice whatsoever.

I started crying and put my head in the book inbetween two pages, where I still had maybe ten pages left to read. Chills. Goosebumps all over my body. I had an overwhelming feeling that the real people that this book is about—some of whom are still alive—were swarming around me, hands on my back, faces in my face, their thoughts in my head…

This book is about two murderers and the four people that they killed. It is about the people that found them, prosecuted them, and followed the case until the end.

I believe that killers--murderers of innocent human beings--are innocent in their own right. I believe that if you are going to do something so awful as to kill an innocent human being, that there is something significantly different in your emotional makeup. I feel that you should not be railroaded into a judicial system that applies a single law to various widely differing types of human nature.

I can't pull together all of my thoughts about this book and frankly if I were able to I would be shocked. I feel so intensely about Perry, and Dick, and Herb Clutter, and Dewey, and Dick's mom, and everybody, down to Bobby Rupp. I don't know these people and I never will, but I feel so very intensely about their lives and deaths and everything inbetween.

I doubt I'll ever be able to put my thoughts on this book into coherent writing, but if I do, I feel I will have "figured it all out".... I think it's all up there in my head, floating around, waiting to be categorized and sequenced and understood and written down to be examined...

Thank you Truman Capote, for this work of art. ( )
  Proustitutes | Jun 11, 2015 |
I have mixed feelings about In Cold Blood. On one hand, this is a book that pioneered interesting and elegantly-crafted non-fiction. Although there are moments when the story gets bogged down by legal or court details, for the most part In Cold Blood reads like a novel. On the other hand, the success of this book ushered in an era of over-sensationalized true crime and non-fiction works that speculated and outright lied about what really happened.

On its own, In Cold Blood is certainly riveting and, at times, gorgeously rendered. Some of the scenes come across as masterfully written fiction; of course, if you research the book after reading it, you'll find that some actually were fiction. Veracity aside, I was intrigued and disgusted by the Clutter family crime. I think having always lived in Kansas (though I'd never heard of Holcomb prior to reading this book) helped keep my interest. As I mentioned earlier, the story does drag from time to time, but not horribly so. Also, I'd have liked to have known more about Harper Lee's involvement, but I guess that's material for a different book. ( )
  chrisblocker | May 12, 2015 |
This was a very well-written book! That probably wouldn't have surprised most people but it sure as heck surprised me. Although the beginning was a little slow, the buildup was perfectly orchestrated and there were even a couple of surprising twists. The author did such a great job at giving us the background of the killers (especially Perry) that I felt actual sympathy; forgetting what heinous acts they would later commit. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
"The suffering. The horror. They were dead. A whole family. Gentle, kindly people, people I knew - murdered.",, April 18, 2015

This review is from: In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
An absolutely brilliant reconstruction of the 1959 mass murder of a whole family in a remote Kansas town, by two drifters for no very logical reason. Capote sets the scene brilliantly in the first chapter, as he jumps from the family living their ordinary day to the two murderers, chatting, driving. The reader knows an awful event is about to happen; as little events happen, such as the neighbour's child coming over to visit, you wonder whether she is going to be harmed or will she get away in time...
In the 3 succeeding chapters, the police are looking for these 'persons unknown' until the answer presents itself. And throughout we learn more of the killers, though not enough to comprehend their motivation.
Shocking and highly readable. ( )
  starbox | Apr 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 278 (next | show all)
Authentic, harrowing reconstruction of the unmotivated murder of a family of four in small-town America, and the capture and conviction of their two young killers.
added by KayCliff | editNational Housewives Register Newsletter, Hazel K. Bell (Sep 1, 1976)
If nothing else, In Cold Blood justifies another Capote conviction: that when reportage commands the highest literary skills, it can approach the level of art.
added by Shortride | editTime (Jan 21, 1966)

» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Capote, Trumanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borràs, Maria LluïsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Breckan, Eldor MartinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cornips, ThérèseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dettore, MariapaolaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larsstuvold, RuneForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Een waar verslag van een viervoudige moord en zijn gevolgen.
Freres humains qui apres nour vivez

N'ayez les cuers contre nous endurcis,

Car, se pitie de nous povres avez,

Dieu en aura plus tost de vous mercis

Francois Villon (Ballade des pendus)
Brothers, men who live after us,
Let not your hearts be hardened against us,
Because, if you have pity for us poor men,
God will have more mercy toward you.
For Jack Dunphy and Harper Lee with my love and gratitude
First words
The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call 'out there'.
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Mensenbroeders, gij die na ons leeft, wil niet verbitterd aan ons denken, want wie erbarmen met ons armen heeft, zal God veel eerder zijn genade schenken. (François Villon - Ballade der gehangenen)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Book description
Haiku summary
Two cons kill family.
Reporter relates the tale
In fiction format.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679745580, Paperback)

"Until one morning in mid-November of 1959, few Americans--in fact, few Kansans--had ever heard of Holcomb. Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there." If all Truman Capote did was invent a new genre--journalism written with the language and structure of literature--this "nonfiction novel" about the brutal slaying of the Clutter family by two would-be robbers would be remembered as a trail-blazing experiment that has influenced countless writers. But Capote achieved more than that. He wrote a true masterpiece of creative nonfiction. The images of this tale continue to resonate in our minds: 16-year-old Nancy Clutter teaching a friend how to bake a cherry pie, Dick Hickock's black '49 Chevrolet sedan, Perry Smith's Gibson guitar and his dreams of gold in a tropical paradise--the blood on the walls and the final "thud-snap" of the rope-broken necks.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:29 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

An account of the senseless murder of a Kansas farm family and the search for the killers.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182571, 014103839X, 0141043083, 0241956838

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