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In Cold Blood
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on September 24, 2017
One of the most significant non-fiction writings of the mid-1960s that still holds an honored place today in American letters. In late 1959 the entire Herbert Clutter family of rural Kansas -- Mr. and Mrs. Clutter and their two youngest children Nancy and Kenyon -- were slaughtered for no particular reason except that the two drifters who sought them out had received bad advice about the alleged riches Mr. Clutter kept in his office safe, but didn't. What might have been merely a downcast saga of the "outs" tangling with the "ins" becomes an amazingly gripping story in author Truman Capote's virtuoso writing, that took years to research, write and edit. In my opinion only purists quibble over whether this book should be classed as non-fiction or fiction; it IS non-fiction, but because some of Capote's narrative techniques were new at the time, IN COLD BLOOD ever since then has straddled "best-of" lists to its overall detriment. Ignore that chatter and read this masterpiece for what it is.

Note: Capote's research assistant out in rural Kansas was none other than (Nelle) Harper Lee, who wrote TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
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on September 27, 2017
Truman Capote struck a jackpot with his factual account of the murders of the 4 members of the Clutter family of 1950's Kansas. The chilling story chronicles the planning of the crime by two society rejects, the crime itself and the ensuing chase and capture of the perpetrators. The story continues through their trial and eventual execution. This tale bears out that violent crime is not limited to big cities. This well researched dramatic account of a heinous crime is a must read.
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on March 25, 2014
Capote knew how to build a story, structure it, and in this case develop the two (bad) characters as cold blooded people no one wants to meet...ever. He also develops the good characters along lines we know and understand and accept as people we would like to meet. So far so good. Had this book been 100 pages shorter it could have been magnificent, concise and brilliant . Where it goes wrong is occasionally Capote brings in a character, unrelated to the plot, and he rambles on for page after page which (if you have a Kindle) urges you to flick, flick flick to get it out of the way and back to the theme.
Since this was my first Kindle Capote (and I wish there were more), I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the crime/mystery genre. Give it a try and when you see an odd character...skip skip skip.
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on May 20, 2017
Capote is a master at his craft. It is very easy to intend to spend 30 minutes and get lost for hours.
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on May 14, 2014
For a classic, true crime work, Capote does his best to create a suspenseful, and dramatic experience. He does this meticulously simply by elaborating on relevant and sometimes, not so relevant details. This, however, is the beauty of his style. Not too much, yet, not too little. Capote's feel for his subject is what actually gives significance to his writing. In Cold Blood, captures the drama and context perfectly. If you are an obsessive compulsive reader, who only cares about facts per se, maybe skip this book.
I see Capote's book through the lens of contrasts. Good people, kind, thoughtful, full of love, devotion, and generosity, get their heads bashed in because, two, not such good people, find themselves broke and empowered by the vulnerability of their human targets. Capote wants his readers to not just empathize with those who were murdered, but, with the perpetrators, as well. It's up to us readers to decide what significance background plays in
the etiology of mass killers. We are provided important background information on all the characters. The dialogue is more revealing than any particular fact. Who cares if these dialogues are elaborated for the dramatic effect! It's the dialogue between each with the other, that provides true insight into the motives behind the killings. Simple minded or empty of conscience, a lot of both. Getting rich quick just isn't as easy as it sounds. Fantasizing about your talents is sometimes the only way to heal a wounded soul. Did I say "soul"? Substitute gratifications are most likely to contribute to Perry and Dick's pathology. When the substitutes are habitually violent in nature, we often get, senseless, motiveless malignancy. The contrasts are clear for the reader who likes analysis. If, however, you simply want to know what all the fuss is about, read Capote's book.
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on October 19, 2014
This is an extraordinary read--chilling, fascinating and astonishing. In what is considered by many to be the first "nonfiction novel," Truman Capote tells the story of the murders of the Clutter family in 1959. The victims were Holcomb, Kansas farmer Herbert Clutter, his wife Bonnie and two of their four children Nancy (16) and Kenyon (15). Two total strangers broke into their secluded farm house in the middle of the night on November 15, 1959 and shot each of them in the head. Why did they do it? Capote manages to get into the minds of the four victims of the Clutter family and especially their two coldblooded killers in a psychological study that reads like a horror thriller. And it's made all the more horrific because it's true.
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on February 11, 2014
I'd forgotten what an uproar the book caused when it first came out--it was a new way to write non-fiction. The book doesn't follow the movie "Capote," in which the late lamented Philip Seymour Hoffman was so brilliant.

But re-reading it, it WAS a new way to write non-fiction, that changed literature forever. It was also so frightening at the time, because things like that just didn't happen in the 1950's, but now it's the stuff of everyday news.

What Capote couldn't explore stands out, like an oozing sore, is the effects that child molestation and a severe head injury had on the killers. Very little was known about it then, and since that time, the research has increased exponentially, but is still largely ignored as warning signs for psychopathology and violent behavior. I've done most of my graduate work for an APRN and have worked with extremely disturbed and also TBI/ABI patients, the dissociative states that both killers describe are classic signs..

Often people think homosexuality is linked to predatory behavior--this is simply FALSE. Predatory behavior is a manifestation of anger and lack of impulse control on a big scale. Homosexuality is simply gender attraction--with no link to predatory behavior.

The book is as chilling and compelling as it first was, if not more so.
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on September 5, 2014
This book was tremendous. I have never read anything by Truman Capote before and I was blown away by his talent. The story itself is very sad and bizarre. I felt so sorry for the Clutter family. A good, mid-western, solid and stable farm family. I have never been to Kansas and this book really made everything come to life. The fields of wheat, the farmers, the small town cafe, etc. I was especially repulsed by the Perry Smith character. I believe that Capote attempted to make this murderer a bit more human, he attempted to elicit sympathy for him from the reader. I was having none of it. Many of us in the world have unhappy childhoods, but that doesn't exempt you from being a savage murdered. Overall good book.
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on March 21, 2017
This book impressed me when I read it in school and now. Its amazing how Capote did this book about the Clutter murders and the murderers. The quality is good but I wish the binding wasnt glued, maybe stitching or another type.
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on November 3, 2013
I recently read the biography of Truman Capote and really enjoyed it so it seemed logical to re-read this book following a 30 year gap since the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have to give it to Capote - the man sure knew how to write. I read true crime regularly and can honestly say that the background on the two accused in this book was extremely thorough. I felt like I really knew them and as far as its possible understood them. Capote's research was immaculate and read more like a novel as it wove together memories from friends, colleagues, townspeople and others. The years in prison and the lengthy appeals is a little less detailed and I would have like more of Capote's personal reflections at the time of the execution. He had to walk a very narrow path between biographer and friend and my personal feeling is that I think his friendship with the pair would have brought so much more insite. The film and other writings indicate that there was a homosexual relationship between Capote and one of the prisioners. Capote was very open about his sexuality and I think this could have been included because it tells us so much about the mindset of the men when they were in jail.

My son had to study this for his A levels in England and I think it would make a wonderful set book for many students.
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