Flashback Friday: In Cold Blood

Recently a few people on twitter decided to listen to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (narrated by Scott Brick.) As I listened to this fairly recently and, I already was committed to another audiobook, I wasn’t up for a re-listen; but I wanted to play too! So, today I offer this, my journal entry from July 2008:

In Cold Blood

By Truman Capote
Narrated by Scott Brick
14.45 hours

Listening to In Cold Blood was close to having someone read the newspaper aloud to you. Scott Brick was absolutely neutral in his reporting of the text, lending accented language when appropriate, bur never over-the-top. There are some noticeable intakes of breath as Scott Brick launches into a sentence or two and; if you try to up the bass on your stereo, be aware there is no bass to “up!” Overall, however, this is a clean recording. The story itself is intriguing in that you know who, what where, when and, why up front, but you’re compelled to listen to the story anyway. The listener is eager to understand the dynamic between Perry Smith and Dick Hickock (the murderers) and how the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation) puts the case together. The final discs address capital punishment and are definitely served as food for thought.

You can join @bostonbibliophi, @braincandybr and @lithousewife in their twitter listen-along of Truman Cappote’s In Cold Blood from July 5-10, 2011. On July 10, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. EST, they will conclude with a discussion (on twitter.) The hashtag is #ICBaudio.



by Dave Cullen
narrated by Don Leslie
14.10 hours

On April 20,1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold staged a homicidal assault on the students and teachers of Columbine High School in Littleton,CO. Using pipe- and propane canister bombs as well as illegally obtained firearms, the boys boys killed 12 students, 1 teacher and, wounded 21 others. The events of that day, born of psychopathic rage (Harris) and depressive psychopathy (Klebold,) were widely reported throughout the country, albeit incorrectly.

Columbine is a staggering work of non-fiction and journalism. More than an account of what happened “that day,” it is a redress of the misinformation that was disseminated at the time of the shooting (and that continues to this day.) David Cullen was a reporter who covered the drama of Columbine; but he has spent the subsequent ten years researching and putting together this myth-busting book that clarifies the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of the now-infamous and still often mis-perceived “school shooting.”

Most of what you think you know about Columbine is probably wrong and Columbine is an utterly compelling and stunning exposition of the mechanics of the assault, as well as an exposé of the bureaucratic and media missteps, the impact on the community and, an exploration of the psychological profiles of Harris and Klebold. Interestingly, among Kindle readers who highlighted the text of Columbine, most of the passages highlighted were about psychopathy. Columbine is the definitive text on the tragedy of that day and the seminal text on the Why of it.

The narrator, Don Leslie, is definitely a voice-over guy and appropriate for the material he reads. His “radio voice announcer” voice underscored the journalistic tenor of the book, though there were a couple places where dropping into parenthetical voice for block quotes would have been appreciated. Nonetheless, this is a thoroughly engaging listen, stunning and impactful in its delivery.

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04/20/2012 – Convo Starter:
In the past year I’ve recommended this book to a number of people and groups, and one of the unexpected responses I get is that some do not want to read this book out of respect for the people of Littleton; that it’s best to move on and try and forget “Columbine.” I am always startled by this reaction because I don’t think we actually remember correctly what did happen; and without this examination and application of critical thinking, we don’t gain the understanding that we need to develop preventative measures against future incidents. What do you think? Should we bury the past? Or should we try to gain insight? If you’ve read or listened to this book, do you think it helps? Or is it too specific to apply to the general understanding of school attacks and/or what you can do in your own communities?

Other Stuff: I borrowed a library CD copy of this book from Blackstone Audio, Inc. I selected this title for the Where are You Reading? Challenge sponsored by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. The setting of Columbine is Littleton, CO.

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