In June 1966, Esquire magazine published “In Cold Fact,” a piece by Phillip K. Tompkins, then an assistant professor in the Department of Speech at Wayne State University. 1 The narrative was a public rhetorical criticism of Truman Capote’s “nonfiction novel,” In Cold Blood. Tompkins had read the novel and had concluded that it was not entirely, well, factual. Tompkins writes: 2
I knew something of the case—the murder of four members of the Clutter family in Western Kansas, my home state. Small but obvious factual errors jumped out at me from the pages of In Cold Blood. More importantly, a former student of mine at the University of Kansas, Lowell Lee Andrews, appears in the book on death row, waiting with the two Clutter killers, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, to be executed by the State of Kansas. The characterization of Andrews was greatly overdrawn. It became clear to me that a new literary genre required a new critical method, a form of rhetorical criticism.