MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Courtroom Drama: Background information when reading Defending Jacob

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Defending Jacob

A Novel

by William Landay

Defending Jacob by William Landay X
Defending Jacob by William Landay
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

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

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Courtroom Drama

This article relates to Defending Jacob

Print Review

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 now label as "courtroom drama" is The Eumenides, a Greek tragedy written by Aeschylus and performed in 458 BC. In it, Athena acted as judge, and Apollo, the defense attorney.]

scene from The Merchant of Venice

According to author Catherine C. Mambretti, "In the West, it was not until literacy became widespread (after the invention of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century) that fictional trials can be found." From William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice in which Antonio and Shylock go to court over an unpaid debt, to Charles Dickens's Bleak House in which feuding family members argue over inheritance; from Franz Kafka's existentialist The Trial to Reginald Rose's Twelve Angry Men and Harper Lee's beloved classic To Kill a Mockingbird, courtroom drama has been delicious fodder for literary greats throughout the ages.

The popularity of courtroom dramas increased in the 20th century, perhaps because legal cases had more media coverage than ever before. The infamous Nuremberg Trials, in which WWII Allied forces took members of the Nazi party to court in 1945-1946, emphasized the idea that justice could be obtained via law and order rather than violence. The rise of television and film accentuated the drama in legal cases, making them all the more entertaining to literary and viewing audiences. For example, in the video below, Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, directed by Robert Mulligan (1962).



Today, courtroom drama is often written by lawyers-turned-authors, such as Scott Turow, John Grisham, and William Landay, author of Defending Jacob.

This "beyond the book article" relates to Defending Jacob. It originally ran in February 2012 and has been updated for the February 2013 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: In the Dream House
    In the Dream House
    by Carmen Maria Machado
    In the introduction to In the Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado (a National Book Award finalist for ...
  • Book Jacket: Father of Lions
    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan
    Our readers have given high marks to Father of Lions by Louise Callaghan. Out of 21 reviewers, 18 ...
  • Book Jacket
    Girl, Woman, Other
    by Bernardine Evaristo
    As we meet Amma, a 50-something playwright finally experiencing mainstream success in Bernardine ...
  • Book Jacket: The Revisioners
    The Revisioners
    by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
    The chapters of Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's second novel, The Revisioners, alternate between three ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Lost Man
by Jane Harper

"Strong characters, riveting plot and an honest look at life in the Australian outback make it easy to give this 5-stars!"
—BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    American Dirt
    by Jeanine Cummins

    A new American classic, and the first book to ever score a perfect 5-stars in BookBrowse's early reader program!
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins
    by Katarina Bivald

    A heartwarming story of love, friendship, and the art of living.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Adventurer's Son

Publishing Soon!
The Adventurer's Son

"A brave and marvelous book. A page-turner that will rip your heart out."
--Jon Krakauer

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I I A Broke, D F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.