Talk:In Cold Blood

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search


This article says that Harper Lee wrote "In Cold Blood" in two places. I'm fairly certain these are just typos but want to make sure before I change it. Can someone confirm this or change it themselves.

Another Question/Serious Contradiction: The intro section says that Capote and Harper "took thousands of pages of notes", the 'criticism' section says that they "did not use a tape recorder or take any written notes". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:34, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

Polemic with Massacre Operation[edit]

Can be mentioned in the article the book Massacre Operation of Rodolfo Walsh, a work wich some people say was the real pioneer of true crime, because was published 9 years before In cold blood? I think it should be writed as a polemic, a debate. (talk) 03:55, 5 March 2008 (UTC)


Err...can someone tweak this sentence: "Critics debate whether Capote invented this story or not."

It's unclear whether it means Capote invented the notion of a nonfiction novel, invented the story in his book, or what. Bantosh 11:45 19 June 2006

"Non-fiction" - do you mean "based on true account" ? The novel is definitely fiction however as far as I can remeber based on facts.
Kpjas 18:49 13 Jun 2003 (UTC)

It actually falls into that category which is sometimes called "new journalism" or even "faction" (meaning, fact-based fiction). It's generally treated as a non-fiction work, though one with more creative license than some others.

I reverted "cousin" back to "childhood friend". I couldn't find a source that said Capote and Harper Lee were cousins. --SeanO July 2, 2005 11:41 (UTC)

there is a lot of debate about this on the To Kill A Mockingbird page, just so you know. 13:10, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

non-fiction novel and factual accuracy in this work[edit]

Can we get some information about the factual accuracy of this work? Perhaps some Holcomb reporters or principles in the story have commented on the book ...

Some details are obviously unknowable (or at least unverifiable) like the conversations between Dick and Perry when they are on the run. My question is more about the details that have a reasonable possibility of being accurate. For example, it is possible that confession statements, psych evaluations et cetera that are presented in the novel are factually accurate while only the unknowables are fiction.

I just finished reading the book and am curious about this.

FYI: Another example of the non-fiction novel is Conspiracy of Fools by Kurt Eichenwald. Funkyj 21:19, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

To my knowledge, the book is factually accurate. Truman Capote became very close to Perry Smith, who, apparently, confided in Capote. I can image that Smith even tried to recall conversations between Hickock and Smith. The great mystery remains - did Smith kill all four Clutters? From many readings of the book, it seems likely. I don't think Hickock had the stomach for the killings. JJ 22:32, 14 February 2006 (UTC)
I just noticed that this article says that Smith did all four killings. He never admitted this, and always maintained that Hickcock murdered Bonnie and Nancy. I'm going to change the main article until someone can convince me that Smith did all four killings. I believe that he did, but it's never been proven. JJ 23:40, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I have further clarification about this. Smith asked to change his signed confession that stated that Hickock murdered Nancy and Bonnie. He was not allowed to change his written confession, and it, therefore, remained unsigned. Smith maintains that he wanted to change his confession for the sake of Hickock's mother - to let her know her son did not actually murder either woman. It is likely that Smith murdered all four victims, but there is uncertainty to this day. Did Smith wish to take the blame to protect Hickock's mother, or did he actually do all four killings? JJ 15:31, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

The novel is historiographical metafiction - basically the novel is based on true events (being the murder, trial, and execution of Hickock and Smith), but Capote includes aspects of storytelling as well...for example when he delves into the minds of the other characters and creates opinions and thoughts that could not have happened, or that he could not have access to. For the record, I thought the book was great. Also, Smith did actually kill all of the Clutters.

"Nonfiction novel" is just a horrid phrase, and an oxymoron; it should not be used. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:24, 29 April 2009 (UTC)


This article is fairly comprehensive and the writing reasonably solid, but it needs some style/tone, grammar, and punctuation cleanups. Examples include sentence fragments, phrases and clauses that appear to have words missing or that otherwise don't make sense, etc. If I have a chance, I'll do it myself sometime, but I encourage anyone with the interest to do so. (talk · contribs)

looks like the images might need to go too, just tagged them nosource --Duk 17:51, 23 September 2005 (UTC)
I found the writing pretty bad (sorry if you're a contributor). I rewrote much of the article, and I intend to do some serious fact checking when I have a chance, since I'm now traveling. I welcome any comments on the accuracy of the article. JJ 00:43, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

There is one passage that seems particularly confusing: the quotation of Smith saying he was "Sorry about Dick's mother." The only "Dick" in the story is Richard Hickock, right? Why would Smith be sorry about his accomplice's mother? Could it be that he was actually sorry about Kenyon's mother...? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:22, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Smith was referring to Hickock's mother. Smith was saying that he wanted to take responsibility for the murders because he liked Hickock's mother and didn't want to make things any worse for her by placing all the blame on Dick. --ShelfSkewed Talk 22:35, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Perry Smith's sibblings[edit]

I deleted the phrase that his brother and sister committed suicide. I need to research this further, and will edit the sentence when I have the facts. JJ 15:03, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Smith had three sibblings, two sisters and a brother. One sister jumped out of a window from a San Francisco hotel. One brother shot himself the day after his wife committed suicide. The third sister married and at the time of the writing of the book was living a normal life. I have added a sentence back about the suicides of his sibblings.

A Life Had To Be Taken[edit]

Capote stated in the book that smiths sister commited suiced-I believe by jumping from a window, while another sister lead a normal life, There was an interesting program on "A&E" about Hickock and Smith that had interviews with Duane West and the Police Chief of Holcomb, Kansas. This program played the authentic taped interviews with Hickock. The program contends that Smith refused to climb the stairs to the gallows and had to be carried, claiming that it was a shame that Hickocks life had to be taken, and that smith should be spared on the basis that he had so much to contribute to society!randazzo56

Treatment by school bully[edit]

I deleted the stuff about the school bully. The only reference to this incident is in a letter written by Smith's father. In the book, Smith himself never mentions this incident. His rage appears to have been against his mother, his father, his surviving sister, and the nuns who mistrated him. Comments? JJ 15:47, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

Change of venue[edit]

I corrected the error under Trail. A change of venue was never requeseted of Judge Tate, as Smith's lawyer argued they would get as fair a trial in Garden City as anywhere in the state of Kansas. JJ 23:59, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

A normal[edit]

Someone changed the quote regarding Dick Hickock as "a normal" to "normal." I changed it back. Hickock, who was far from normal, was often quoted in the book saying stuff like, "I'm not like you Perry, I'm a normal." I have always been intrigued by this particular usage, and I'm asking that it be left as quoted. JJ 14:08, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

book vs. case[edit]

Except for the first paragraph this article is not about Capote's book but just plainly about the Clutter case. For anybody interested in the literary / journalistic assessement of the book, its merits and demerits etc. - and with the time to revise this article - I've just added an external link to a useful essay. -- 21:04, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

How much did Harper Lee help Capote?[edit]

There's a lot about Capote and "In Cold Blood" in a new biography of Harper Lee, "Mockingbird, a portrait of Harper Lee" by Charles J Shields (Henry Holt 2006) ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-7919-7. The new book gives Harper Lee a lot of credit for Capote's success with "In Cold Blood" and notes that Capote never adequately acknowledged her aid.

Capote, who appears as Dill Harris in "To Kill a Mockingbird," grew up in the same neighborhood as the slightly younger (Nelle) Harper Lee, and from early years they collaborated a lot. Their friendship lasted through the publication of "Mockingbird" and "In Cold Blood." Seems she finally lost patience with Capote after he told an interviewer some lies about her childhood (Shields, p 270).

Smith and assertion re his commanding officer[edit]

I deleted the assertion that Smith was not promoted because he would not have sex with his commanding officer. Can someone provide a reference in In Cold Blood? JJ 15:06, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

I believe the reference is to him not wanting to 'roll over' or something to that effect. It is rather nebulous as to what exactly he meant. It is intermingled with various other complaints and references, so I would think it is best left out. Leafschik1967 (talk) 04:50, 24 November 2007 (UTC)


Due to the pending Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Herbert Clutter I merged in the text from the individual articles on the family members. It may need to be edited to fit the context of the article. The individual articles did not have reference. Jeepday 04:57, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Merge from Nancy Clutter, Herbert Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Kenyon Clutter[edit]

Please merge any relevant content from Nancy Clutter, Herbert Clutter, Bonnie Clutter, Kenyon Clutter per Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Herbert Clutter. (If there is nothing to merge, just leave it as a redirect.) Thanks. Quarl (talk) 2007-02-13 21:22Z

looks like that's been done. 13:04, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Bios on the family members[edit]

I find the biographies on the family members redundant and unnecessary. Earlier there is talk of Bonnie's depression, then it's repeated. Let's weave the bios into the text of the article, and let it go at that. Comments? JJ 13:37, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

The novel is historiographical metafiction - basically the novel is based on true events (being the murder, trial, and execution of Hickock and Smith), but Capote includes aspects of storytelling as well...for example when he delves into the minds of the other characters and creates opinions and thoughts that could not have happened, or that he could not have access to. For the record, I thought the book was great.

Book or crime?[edit]

Is this article about the book or the crime? It's written like a chronological retelling of the murders, but it has (book) in the title. This is unacceptable, as is the prevalence of WP:OR and WP:POV plaguing a majority of the sections. This needs to be completely turned around. María (críticame) 20:41, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

I've begun the necessary weeding of this article to better concentrate on the book and not the crime, as stated above. There are two new sections, one of which is on the subsequent adaptations and the other is on Capote's research and time in Kansas. There is the possibility that another section can be devoted to narration, literary style, and the non-fiction novel. Anyone is welcome to help with these tasks. María (críticame) 13:37, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
This article is about the book, which details the workings of the crime in great depth. If there is a separate article on the crime itself, then this article should be based only upon the book. if there is no article on the crime, a section of this article should be about the crime until it is made into one, because the book itself and it's style of writing are much different topics than the happenings of the crime itself. 12:56, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I understand, and that's a very good point you've made. At the moment there isn't an article for the crime itself, and the separate articles that were created for the victims were redirected to this page. A lot of the minute details of the crime are covered on the individual articles for the convicted murderers, however. Because the book is described as a non-fiction novel, the details of the crime, and therefore a majority of the "plot line," are covered somewhat in this article, but should not be described in tireless detail because more focus should be on the book and it's conception, reception, etc; not its story-line. Therefore, I suppose the summary of the book can be considered a sufficient summary of the crime and its aftermath for now. María (críticame) 13:06, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree. Given that the subject of the article is a novel (albeit non-fiction), in my view it ought—like any other—include a plot section that gives an account of events as they occur in the book—no more, no less. The current "crime" and "investigation and trial" sections ought ideally be dispensed with. There's no reason however not to include content that introduces the real-world subject, accounts for any differences between the book and reality and perhaps explains or expands on key points of interest. A separate article on the book's subject now exists (although I believe its existence or otherwise isn't necessarily relevant). Pololei (talk) 00:56, 5 January 2020 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was PAGE MOVED per discussion below. -GTBacchus(talk) 04:12, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

I have requested that this page be moved to In Cold Blood, which currently redirects here. If the book is considered the primary use of the title, it is wrong for the plain title to redirect to the title with the parenthetic clarifier. --ShelfSkewed Talk 04:54, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Oppose and return the dab page to In Cold Blood. This is how it used to be, and was moved withou8t discussion if the historys are accurate (see this [1]) Llamasharmafarmerdrama (talk) 21:25, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
    • Comment That would work for me, too. It's just ridiculous to have the plain title as a redirect. It should be either an article or a dab page.--ShelfSkewed Talk 23:04, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Support - the book is most definitely the primary usage and the first to use the term. Reginmund (talk) 01:47, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Support. Concur with Reginmund: the book appears to the primary usage. {{dab}} seems to sufficiently handle other uses --Lox (t,c) 11:02, 9 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Support - book makes sense as primary usage. Propaniac (talk) 15:09, 11 January 2008 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Publication year[edit]

I notice the article currently states the book was published in 1966. My copy of the book says that it was first published in hardcover and copyrighted in 1965. The New Yorker Web site says it was serialized in 1965 as well.[2] This was actually brought to my attention when another editor said the book was published in 1964. The evidence to me suggests 1965, but I wanted to see if anyone else had reason to believe otherwise before I changed it. --JayHenry (talk) 19:03, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

The publication year is often given as 1965 because that's the only year that appears (as the copyright year) on the copyright page of the first edition, and it is, of course, the earliest year that appears in subsequent editions and printings. But the first edition was actually published in January 1966. For evidence, the dustjacket of the first edition shows "1/66" on the front flap, the Library of Congress lists 1966 as the year of publication, and the original New York Times review appeared in January 1966.--ShelfSkewed Talk 19:41, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Hi. I was going over Operación masacre while it was a DYK on the mainpage, whose hook suggested that Walsh's 1957 book was published nine years earlier than Capote's. (Which would make In Cold Blood 's year of release 1966, of course.) But I followed the source cited for that particular bit of information, Waisbord, which gives the date as 1964. That's the only source I checked: the one cited in the article, which was being used to justify that particular DYK's hook. For what it's worth, gives us a 1965 date. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:49, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Oh, and Worldcat suggests 1965, too. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 22:07, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
I think we can conclude that the 1964 year was simply a mistake in that source. LOC does list 1966 publication, 1965 copyright: [3] Perhaps we should explain the discrepancy in the text (and mention the 1965 New Yorker serialization)? It would be nice if we could get an actual date. --JayHenry (talk) 22:09, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Just to note that nearly all the WorldCat listings show ©1965 or [1965] (brackets indicate copyright date, not publication date). I still think 1966 is the correct year of publication, but it is possible that January 1966 was the "official" publication date but that the book actually hit the shelves in December 1965. Discrepancies like that are common. --ShelfSkewed Talk 22:39, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
The date in square brackets is the official one. Ask a librarian. It's 1965. If anything, the scenario's the opposite to the one you outline: it was meant to come out before Christmas, but they didn't manage to ship all or most of the stock until afterwards. (Whoever heard of a publisher being early!?) --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:38, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
The year in brackets is the official one, but the brackets mean that the year of publication is not stated in the book itself and has been determined some other way--which, for modern books, usually means using the copyright year as the publication year. As for a book having an actual release date that precedes the official one: I don't know what to tell you, but it does happen all the time. A recent book by Michael Chabon (Maps and Legends) had an official release date of May 1 but was widely available in mid-April (I bought my copy at a b&m store on April 28). In this case, you are dismissing the dustjacket date "1/66"--which is known to be the earliest state of the dj and does indicate at least the anticipated official release date. I've also found several reliable sources that assert a January 1966 publication: the State Library of Kansas, Masterplots (Salem Press), and the New York Times. --ShelfSkewed Talk 04:49, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
"The year in brackets is the official one, but the brackets mean that the year of publication is not stated in the book itself and has been determined some other way." Exactly. It's hardly worth arguing over, but... I see from your userpage that you're a book collector, and so perhaps different standards or concerns apply in the trade. I'm interested to learn that books have a "dustjacket date," about which I was completely ignorant, but is no doubt of interest to you. But I'd say that for academics and (I'm not one, but I'm pretty sure) librarians, it's the official date that counts, not the date that the book actually may have hit the shelves (which the Capote biography could probably clarify, FWIW) or the date marked on the dustjacket. Again, looking at Worldcat, which represents many libraries rather than just one (uff, and by the way, I'd say that Masterplots is a pretty awful source, though I recognize that there are some better sources that do say 1966), it is pretty clear that 1965 has been determined to be the date of publication. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 05:01, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
I think we'll need to mention the various pieces of information for both years in the text. We probably need to somehow mention both dates in the infobox and include a link to further information. Neither year, by itself, is completely satisfactory. The article needed some expansion on this point anyways. --JayHenry (talk) 06:51, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
I was asked to comment JayHenry is basically correct, that the copyright date is not necessarily the date of publication. It often varies from the date of publication by one year, in either direction, for a variety of reasons, and it is the practice of librarians not to concern themselves much over a one-year discrepancy when cataloging ordinary books. In this case there are 2 reasons: the material was published in the New Yorker in 1965, and in book form in 1966, and also, exactly as Jbmurray says, the material was indeed published in very late December. From a bibliographic standpoint, the technical date of publication for the book is normally defined as the date when the book becomes available for sale to the general public. In the case of previous publication in a magazine, a publisher would always give the earlier date on title page of the book as the date of copyright & register it for copyright again when it was published in book form, and give that date also if it were different--it is necessary to distinguish the date of publication of the material from the date of publication of the book For an important book, there are almost always pre-publication copies made available to reviewers. There are in fact such copies available on the market for this book: see [4] item 60, in a bookdealer's catalog. However, the 1964 date seems to be a passing reference, & is probably an error. A full bibliographic treatment of this book would go into these matters in extensive detail, and it would be appropriate here to have a brief description of the facts of publication, if you can find a reliable source. Masterplots is not a RS for this, and "First Edition points" website, while widely used as a convenient reference, has an accuracy disclaimer. The dealer's catalog refers to Kenneth Starosciak's "Truman Capote, a Checklist" There are also "Truman Capote : a primary and secondary bibliography" by Robert J Stanton" and "Truman Capote : a bibliographical checklist" by Robert A Wilson. and probably some literature in the journals, as he's a well studied author. DGG (talk) 16:02, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
DGG, thanks for this. (I asked DGG to comment, to get a librarian's perspective.) Regarding what's available on Abebooks, this is the copy to have, no? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 22:27, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
I took a stab at a brief section with this information: In Cold Blood#Publication. I happened to be at Borders this evening and I looked what details were in Gerald Clarke's biography of Capote. He also stated unequivocally that the book form first appeared in January 1966. Please be encouraged to edit or improve that section as needed. --JayHenry (talk) 01:27, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
That section looks good. Thanks for seeking out the bio, too! --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 01:42, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
I made one small correction: In Cold Blood appeared as a serial, not all at once; the September 25 issue carried only the first of four installments. I did not note, but we might want to add, that the four sections and their titles were retained in the book version. --ShelfSkewed Talk 03:12, 27 May 2008 (UTC)
I didn't realize it appeared in four installments. Yes, I think that would be good to note. I've added the first to the External links section. If we can find the other three installments we ought to add them as well. Thanks for your help with this ShelfSkewed! --JayHenry (talk) 00:54, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately, it appears that only the first part is available in its entirety. The other three installments are merely synopsized. Should we add those links anyway? --ShelfSkewed Talk 15:21, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
Hmm... I'm not really sure. Perhaps we should leave a note saying when the final three installments were published (ie back-to-back issues on Oct. 2, 9 and 16) and that they are not available online? Potentially saves someone from a wild goose chase when they discover a link to Part I and not the other three? --JayHenry (talk) 02:00, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

The house?[edit]

Where in Holcomb is the house? There are no indicators on Google Earth (i.e. panoramio photos). -- (talk) 07:56, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

How many copies have been sold till now?[edit]

And the total revenue? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:58, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Floyd Wells and Willie Jay[edit]

In Cold Blood leaves us with the knowledge that Wells received a reward and was paroled after his testimony, then got sent to Parchman for armed robbery. Nothing more is mentioned of Willie Jay.

Does anyone have knowledge of what became of either of them? Hushpuckena (talk) 05:10, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

GPs doing the evaluations?[edit]

"Overview of the crime" section says that Hickock and Smith pleaded temporary insanity but were deemed sane by local GPs. A GP is a general practitioner, and could someone at least explain the use of GPs for this? A psychiatrist is also a (medical) doctor. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:58, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

How long did Capote spend writing the book?[edit]

Article In Cold Blood has statement 'Capote ultimately spent six years working on the book' whereas article Truman Capote has 'a book Capote spent four years writing'. So which is it to be?; there is no reference given for either statement.--User:Brenont (talk) 20:37, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Added section[edit]

There was a nice section on the truthfulness of the book in the wiki article about Truman Capote. I copied and pasted it here, where it belongs. After all, I just finished reading the book, and I came here for exactly that information. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:30A:C08C:A6F0:21C:B3FF:FEC3:2572 (talk) 23:50, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on In Cold Blood. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

As of February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{sourcecheck}} (last update: 15 July 2018).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 15:07, 12 November 2017 (UTC)