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Download A Trial by Jury Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A Trial by Jury Audiobook, by D. Graham Burnett
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (151 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: D. Graham Burnett Narrator: D. Graham Burnett Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2001 ISBN: 9780375420412
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Jury duty happens to everyone. When the call came to Graham Burnett, a young historian, he had a shock in store. A Trial by Jury is his startling account of how performing this familiar civic duty challenged him in ways he never thought possible and turned into one of the most consuming experiences of his life.

Burnett begins with the story of the trial: a body with multiple stab wounds found in a New York apartment, intimations of cross-dressing, male prostitution, mistaken identity. And then, the unexpected drama: Burnett finds himself appointed the foreman, with the responsibility of leading the increasingly frenetic deliberations within the black box of the jury room.

Soon he is sequestered—which is to say marooned—with eleven others, a group of people who view their task, and often one another, with palpable distaste. Among his colleagues: a vacuum-cleaner repairman cum urban missionary, a young actress, and a man apparently floundering in a borderland between real life and daytime television.

As Burnett steers the contentious politics of their temporary no-exit society toward the verdict, he undergoes an unexpected awakening. Having been plucked from his cozy nest in the world of books and ideas and then plunged into the netherworld of lurid crime, he learns the limits of what intellect alone can accomplish in the real world. Above all, Burnett discovers firsthand the terrifying ultimate power of the state and the agonies of being asked to do justice within the rigid dictates of the law.

Part true crime, part political treatise, part contemplation of right, wrong, and the power of words, A Trial by Jury is a mesmerizing narrative of one man’s encounter with crime and punishment, American style. It profoundly affects one’s sense of the privileges—and the perils—of citizenship.


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Quotes & Awards

  • As fascinating as any fictional courtroom thriller and a lot more thought-provoking than most . . . Burnett has a keen intelligence and he's a gifted writer--the book holds you in its grip. Charles Matthews, Mercury News
  • A minor masterpiece, a mesmerizing story of a system that would be right at home in a Franz Kafka story. In many ways, [A Trial by Jury is] downright chilling . . . It opens a window on a closed, substantially flawed process . . . Burnett's prose is crystal clear. . . . This is a fascinating story. Leo Irwin, Sunday News Journal (Wilmington, DE)
  • [Burnett illustrates] what a remarkable and sometimes remarkably strange duty serving on a jury can be . . . A riveting look at citizen jurors at work. Seth Stern, The Christian Science Monitor
  • A drama both human and metaphysical . . . a report from the trenches . . . It's not just the defendant who is on trial in A Trial by Jury, but the jury system and the jurors themselves. James Traub, The New York Review of Books
  • The heavy machine is what Burnett calls the criminal justice system; his close encounter with its well-greased wheels and levers is the subject of his immensely readable new book. Jabari Asim, Washington Post
  • By turns humorous and dramatic, "A Trial by Jury" speeds along; it can be devoured in a single sitting. Burnett is a graceful, economical writer, with a sharp eye for detail and a nuanced feel for character. He never loses his sense of the ridiculous . . . An irresistible book. Barry Gewen, The New York Times Book Review
  • "The author, a historian of science, also proves himself an excellent student of human nature in this first-person account of serving as the jury foreman in a New York City murder trial. Though the entire case, from opening gavel to final decision, takes only a few weeks, Burnett manages to paint vivid portraits of his fellow-jurors and examine the knottier issues of class, race, and gender that complicate the justice system's search for objective truth. Until now, the standard-bearer for jury-room dynamics has been "Twelve Angry Men"; Burnett's narrative, while significantly more understated, is no less illuminating. The New Yorker

  • A slender, finely wrought book . . . unfailingly astute . . . That A Trial by Jury can be read in a few engrossing hours is an unexpected treat for busy professionals. That it is written with a grace and eloquence all too rare in contemporary nonfiction is icing on the cake. That it may actually make us better and more thoughtful lawyers and citzens is the kind of marvelous prestidigitation worthy of our best teachers. Peter H. Schuck, New York Law Journal
  • This book is a journey down into the grim boiler room of justice. Those who make this journey never forget the experience. They emerge seeing the world in a different
    way, and you'll understand why after reading this book.
  • --Jonathan Harr, author of A Civil Action
  • "D. Graham Burnett's A Trial By Jury is the passionate, honest and humane true story of a murder trial and the torments of the jurors as they try to decide guilt or innocence. This jewel of a book describing a brutal, quirky killing tells us as much about the pain suffered by people having to make overwhelming decisions as it does about the good and bad of the American criminal justice system. Not since 12 Angry Men have we been so vividly brought inside the jury room and shown how 12 people--including the author--ultimately choose between justice and the law. Martin Garbus, author of Tough Talk
  • One of the 2001 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ellen | 9/24/2013

    " boo to this book! It is written simply and made me feel like I was twelve.... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Celine | 1/26/2013

    " Interesting look into jury duty written by someone who was selected to be the foreman on a murder case in NYC. I got annoyed during the deliberations piece, in all honesty, but realize the interpretation of law and the heavy responsibility the U.S. justice system puts on jurors can be complex. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron | 12/1/2012

    " Very readable account of a historian's experience as foreman of a jury considering a murder trial. Great insight into the messy pursuit of justice. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Etienne | 11/10/2012

    " I enjoyed reading this book. It got lots of negative reviews (condescending author, etc) but I found the author brutally honest even if it didn't always make him look great. I understand what he went through as jury foreman. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Loretto | 11/4/2012

    " I think the author truly captured the feeling of frustration a juror feels. You are never given all the information you need to make the "right" decision. The only case I sat on as a juror was more about the lawyers than the defendant. A real insight into the workings of a real trial. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 9/26/2012

    " I think I remember this book being quite interesting to read. Just reading the short paragraph about it almost makes me want to read it over again just out of curiosity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 8/25/2012

    " Interesting read about the hardships faced when on a sequestered jury. Enjoyed it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea Biancamano | 6/10/2012

    " Well written. Gave an interesting look at what a jury goes through when making a decision. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matthew | 1/30/2012

    " An interesting first-person view into being on a jury in New York in 2000 where the crime was murder. The author is clearly an academic, as he occasionally weighs in on the place of a jury in our current legal system. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yariella | 1/26/2012

    " interesting account of that oh-so-great civic obligation - jury duty. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 7/28/2011

    " I stumbled upon this book and breezed right through it. While this is certainly not a ground-breaking piece of literature, the author provides an interesting look into the unique experience of jury duty. If you have ever served on one, you will definitely find this book worth the read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Edie | 6/23/2011

    " Yeah, hmmmm. Another up and down book. Anytime I was thinking I needed to put it down for a bit and have a look at something else, the author would come up with a comment or insight that clicked and I would continue reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jack | 6/4/2011

    " Splendid, albeit somewhat depressing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Celine | 3/17/2011

    " Interesting look into jury duty written by someone who was selected to be the foreman on a murder case in NYC. I got annoyed during the deliberations piece, in all honesty, but realize the interpretation of law and the heavy responsibility the U.S. justice system puts on jurors can be complex. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matthew | 8/11/2010

    " An interesting first-person view into being on a jury in New York in 2000 where the crime was murder. The author is clearly an academic, as he occasionally weighs in on the place of a jury in our current legal system. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron | 10/8/2008

    " Very readable account of a historian's experience as foreman of a jury considering a murder trial. Great insight into the messy pursuit of justice. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ellen | 3/13/2008

    " boo to this book! It is written simply and made me feel like I was twelve.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 1/17/2008

    " Well written. Gave an interesting look at what a jury goes through when making a decision. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yariella | 10/21/2007

    " interesting account of that oh-so-great civic obligation - jury duty. "

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