Dan Porter's Reviews > In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
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's review
Jul 21, 2016

bookshelves: modern-classics, crime
read count: 1

With the glut of crime-related progams - both factual and fictional- on primetime television and the daily bombardment of crime we receive from the news media, you might assume this would be just one more crime story. The fact is, it is a very compelling description, by those involved as well as by Capote, of the brutal murder of a family and of the investigation, trial, and execution of those who committed it. The accounts of the individuals who first found and first investigated the the scene of the murders and the confession of Perry Smith (one of the murderers) are among the most powerfully gripping passages I have ever read.

One of Capote's purposes is to raise the question - without offering an answer - of whether one should be held accountable for his actions if he is incapable of controlling himself due to traumas that effect his personality. He shows that the community of pyschiatric professionals is divided on the issue and that the courts at that time tended to assume the individual to be accountable. Having read East of Eden within a month before finishing In Cold Blood, I couldn't help but contrast Steinbeck's view that we each have free will and are therefore responsible for the choices we make between the good and evil that constantly battle within us and the view - toward which Capote seemed to lean - that circumstances can make us incapable of choosing between good and evil thus absolving us of responsibility for our actions.

While the book doesn't provide answers to many of the questions it raises, it is one that will keep you up late reading even though you already know the ending.
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