Courtroom Drama: Background information when reading Defending Jacob

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Defending Jacob

A Novel

by William Landay

Defending Jacob
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2012, 432 pages
    Feb 2013, 496 pages

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Beyond the Book:
Courtroom Drama

The thrill of watching a trial unfold - the impassioned speeches, quick-witted lawyers, surprise witnesses, the piecing together of clues, not knowing if justice will prevail - it can all make for exciting, and in some cases legendary, storytelling. "Courtroom drama", a subgenre of "legal drama", is a term used to describe dramatic fiction in which legal litigation plays out with suspenseful and climactic courtroom scenes. In modern times, these scenes usually take place in what we recognize as legal courtrooms (hence the name), though in older texts the "courtrooms" might actually have looked like public forums or gatherings.

Though we often associate the genre with television (e.g. Perry Mason or Law and Order) or film (think of Jack Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth!" moment in A Few Good Men), courtroom drama is overwhelmingly popular in literature as well. [Indeed, it predates television and film by a couple thousand years; one of the first written works that we would ...

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