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Hunter Jackson

Read In Cold Blood Online: The Classic Nonfiction Novel by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood Truman Capote Free Epub: A Review of the Classic Nonfiction Novel

In Cold Blood is a nonfiction novel by American author Truman Capote, first published in 1966. It details the 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family in the small farming community of Holcomb, Kansas by a pair of drifters and of the subsequent capture, trial, and execution of the killers. Capote used the techniques of fiction to tell the true story of the crime, creating a groundbreaking work that has been hailed as a masterpiece of literature.

In Cold Blood Truman Capote Free Epub mercuri fhoto disegn

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Summary of In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood consists of four parts: The Last to See Them Alive, Persons Unknown, Answer, and The Corner. Each part follows the lives of the victims, the killers, the investigators, and other members of the rural community in alternating sequences.

The Clutter family and their murder in Holcomb, Kansas

The first part introduces Herbert "Herb" Clutter, a prosperous and well-liked wheat farmer who lives in Holcomb with his wife Bonnie and their teenage children Nancy and Kenyon. Herb is a devout Methodist and a prominent citizen who employs many farmhands. Bonnie suffers from depression and physical ailments that limit her social activities. Nancy is a popular and talented girl who excels at school, music, and horse riding. Kenyon is a shy but intelligent boy who likes to tinker with electronics. The Clutters are described as a happy and respectable family.

On November 14, 1959, which is the last day of their lives, they are shown going about their normal routines. Meanwhile, two ex-convicts recently paroled from the Kansas State Penitentiary, Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith, are driving to Holcomb to rob the Clutter house. They have been tipped off by a former cellmate named Floyd Wells that Herb keeps a large amount of cash in a safe. However, Wells's information is outdated and inaccurate; Herb does not have a safe or much cash at home.

That night, Hickock and Smith enter the Clutter house through an unlocked door. They confront Herb in his bedroom and demand to know where the safe is. When Herb tells them there is no safe, they tie him up and search the house for money. They find only about $40 in cash. They then proceed to kill Herb by slitting his throat and shooting him in the head. They also kill Bonnie, Nancy, and Kenyon in their respective bedrooms by shooting them with a shotgun at close range.

The investigation and capture of the killers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock

The second part follows the investigation of the murders by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). The lead agent is Alvin Dewey, who is determined to solve the case. He and his team interview several suspects and witnesses, but find no solid leads or motives. The only clues they have are a bloody footprint, a pair of binoculars, and a radio stolen from the Clutter house.

Meanwhile, Hickock and Smith flee to Kansas City, where they pass several bad checks and sell the stolen items. They then drive to Mexico City, where they hope to find work and start a new life. However, they soon run out of money and decide to return to the United States. They travel across several states, committing petty crimes and avoiding detection.

In the Kansas State Penitentiary, Floyd Wells hears a radio report about the Clutter murders and realizes that Hickock and Smith are the killers. He decides to inform the authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence. He tells them about his conversation with Hickock about the Clutter family and their supposed wealth. He also identifies Smith as Hickock's partner.

Based on Wells's information, the KBI issues a nationwide alert for Hickock and Smith. They are eventually tracked down and arrested in Las Vegas on December 30, 1959, six weeks after the murders. They are extradited to Kansas, where they are interrogated by Dewey and his colleagues. After initially denying any involvement, they eventually confess to the crime and sign written statements.

The trial and execution of Smith and Hickock

The third part covers the trial of Hickock and Smith, which takes place in Garden City, Kansas in March 1960. The trial attracts a lot of media attention and public interest. The prosecution seeks the death penalty for both defendants, arguing that they committed a cold-blooded and senseless crime. The defense tries to spare them from execution by pleading temporary insanity and presenting evidence of their troubled backgrounds and mental illnesses.

The jury deliberates for less than an hour before finding both Hickock and Smith guilty of first-degree murder. They are sentenced to death by hanging. They appeal their convictions and sentences, but their appeals are denied by the Kansas Supreme Court.

The fourth part describes the time that Hickock and Smith spend on death row in the Lansing Correctional Facility. They are visited by several people, including Capote himself, who interviews them extensively for his book. They also correspond with various friends, relatives, and strangers who express sympathy or curiosity about them.

After five years of delays and postponements, Hickock and Smith are executed on April 14, 1965. They are hanged one after another in front of a small group of witnesses. Their bodies are buried in unmarked graves in a nearby cemetery.

Analysis of In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood is widely regarded as a masterpiece of literature that transcends the boundaries of journalism and fiction. Capote claimed that he invented a new genre with this book, which he called the "nonfiction novel". He used the techniques of fiction, such as dialogue, narration, description, and structure, to tell a factual story based on extensive research and interviews.

The genre and style of nonfiction novel

Capote's goal was to create a novel that was both accurate and artistic. He wanted to present the facts of the case without embellishing or distorting them, but also to explore the deeper meanings and implications of the events. He wanted to make the readers feel as if they were witnessing the story firsthand, but also to make them think about the moral and social issues raised by it.

To achieve this effect, Capote used several stylistic devices that are typical of fiction writing. He employed a third-person omniscient point of view that allowed him to switch between different perspectives and locations. He used vivid details and imagery to create a realistic sense of place and atmosphere. He used dialogue that was based on actual transcripts or recollections of conversations, but also edited or reconstructed them for clarity and coherence. He used foreshadowing, suspense, irony, and symbolism to enhance the drama and significance of the story. He structured the book into four parts that followed a chronological order but also had thematic unity.

The themes and motifs of crime, justice, and human nature

The characterization and psychology of Smith and Hickock

In Cold Blood also delves into the characterization and psychology of Smith and Hickock, who are portrayed as complex and contradictory human beings rather than as stereotypical villains. Capote explores their backgrounds, personalities, motivations, and relationship with each other and with the Clutters.

Smith is depicted as a sensitive and intelligent man who suffers from a troubled childhood marked by abuse, neglect, and abandonment. He has a low self-esteem and a violent temper that he attributes to a head injury he sustained in a motorcycle accident. He also has artistic and musical talents that he never had the chance to develop. He feels a strong bond with Hickock, who is the only person who understands him and accepts him.

Hickock is shown as a charming and charismatic man who has a knack for lying and manipulating others. He comes from a stable family but has a history of petty crimes and sexual deviance. He is obsessed with money and women, and he dreams of living a glamorous life. He is also cold-blooded and ruthless, and he shows no remorse for killing the Clutters.

The relationship between Smith and Hickock is one of the main focuses of the book. They are both lonely and alienated from society, and they find in each other a sense of companionship and loyalty. They also have a mutual dependence and influence on each other. Hickock is the leader and planner of the crime, but he relies on Smith's physical strength and courage to carry it out. Smith is the follower and executor of the crime, but he is also influenced by Hickock's greed and ambition to go along with it.

Capote also contrasts Smith and Hickock with the Clutters, who represent the opposite of their values and lifestyles. The Clutters are hardworking, honest, religious, and family-oriented, while Smith and Hickock are lazy, dishonest, godless, and rootless. The Clutters have a sense of purpose and belonging in their community, while Smith and Hickock have no direction or connection in their lives. The Clutters are victims of a random and senseless act of violence, while Smith and Hickock are perpetrators of a deliberate and calculated act of evil.


In Cold Blood is a powerful and influential book that has had a lasting impact on literature and culture. It is considered one of the greatest works of American literature in the 20th century, and it has inspired many other writers to explore the genre of nonfiction novel or creative nonfiction. It has also sparked debates about the ethics and accuracy of Capote's methods and representations of the facts.

One of the main controversies surrounding In Cold Blood is the extent to which Capote altered or embellished the truth for artistic purposes. Some critics have accused him of fabricating or distorting some details, such as the dialogue, the chronology, or the motives of some characters. Some have also questioned his objectivity and credibility as a journalist, especially regarding his personal involvement with Smith and Hickock. Capote himself admitted that he took some liberties with the facts, but he defended his work as essentially truthful.

Another controversy related to In Cold Blood is the moral dilemma that Capote faced in writing the book. Capote developed a close relationship with Smith and Hickock during his research, especially with Smith, whom he considered a friend. He empathized with their plight and tried to help them with their legal appeals. However, he also needed them to die in order to finish his book. He was conflicted between his compassion for them and his ambition for his work. Some critics have argued that Capote exploited Smith and Hickock for his own gain, while others have praised him for his humanization of them.

In Cold Blood is a book that challenges the readers to confront their own views on crime, justice, and human nature. It invites them to question their assumptions about good and evil, guilt and innocence, fact and fiction. It offers them a compelling story that is both factual and artistic, both realistic and imaginative.


  • How accurate is In Cold Blood?

In Cold Blood is based on extensive research and interviews that Capote conducted over six years. However, it is not a completely factual account of the events. Capote used some fictional techniques, such as dialogue, narration, description, and structure, to create a more dramatic and coherent story. He also altered or omitted some details, such as the chronology, the motives, or the personalities of some characters. He claimed that his book was 95 percent accurate, but some critics have disputed this claim.

  • How did Capote research and write In Cold Blood?

Capote learned about the Clutter murders from a short article in The New York Times in 1959. He decided to write a nonfiction novel about the case, and he traveled to Kansas with his friend Harper Lee to investigate the crime. He interviewed hundreds of people, including the residents of Holcomb, the investigators of the KBI, and the relatives and friends of the Clutters and the killers. He also visited the crime scene, the trial, and the prison. He took thousands of pages of notes, which he claimed to have memorized without using tape recorders or notebooks. He spent six years writing and revising his book, which was first published as a four-part series in The New Yorker in 1965 and then as a book in 1966.

  • What is the relationship between Capote and Harper Lee?

Capote and Lee were childhood friends who grew up together in Monroeville, Alabama. They both had a passion for writing and supported each other's careers. Lee helped Capote with his research for In Cold Blood by acting as his assistant and intermediary with the people of Kansas. She also influenced his writing style by encouraging him to use more dialogue and humor. Capote dedicated his book to her and gave her a diamond brooch as a token of his gratitude. However, their friendship deteriorated over the years due to Capote's jealousy of Lee's success with To Kill a Mockingbird and his resentment of her criticism of his work.

  • How did In Cold Blood influence the true crime genre?

In Cold Blood is widely regarded as one of the first and most influential examples of the true crime genre, which combines factual reporting with fictional storytelling. It inspired many other writers to explore this genre, such as Norman Mailer with The Executioner's Song (1979), Vincent Bugliosi with Helter Skelter (1974), and Ann Rule with The Stranger Beside Me (1980). It also influenced other forms of media, such as films, documentaries, podcasts, and television shows, that deal with real-life crimes and criminals.

  • What are some other works by Truman Capote?

Truman Capote was a prolific and versatile writer who wrote in various genres and forms, such as fiction, nonfiction, journalism, essays, memoirs, screenplays, and plays. Some of his most famous works include:

  • Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), his first novel, which is a coming-of-age story about a young boy who discovers his homosexuality.

  • The Grass Harp (1951), a novel based on his childhood experiences in Alabama.

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958), a novella about a young socialite who lives in New York City.

  • A Christmas Memory (1956), a short story about his friendship with an elderly cousin.

  • The Muses Are Heard (1956), a nonfiction account of his trip to Russia with a musical troupe.

  • Music for Chameleons (1980), a collection of short stories, essays, and interviews.

  • Answered Prayers (1987), an unfinished novel that exposes the secrets of high society.



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