Short, Sweet, Serious, Humorous — and Everything in Between

“Juror #8: It’s also possible for a lawyer to be plain stupid, isn’t it? I mean it’s possible.

Juror #7: You sound like you met my brother-in-law.”

-Reginald Rose, Twelve Angry Men

Let me be frank when I say that Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, while weighing merely 73 pages, is one of the most compact books I’ve ever read (and not just based on physical size). In fact, to say the least, this novella/drama is among the most exemplary of its kind. Published in 1954 and quickly adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1957 and a Broadway show in 2004, Twelve Angry Men deals with a serious topic in a more serious setting while simultaneously employing crafty witticisms that are bound to make anybody laugh and deeply exploring human nature. Although some parts of the story might be perceived as casual and often irrelevant small talk, the underlying message — the theme — of the story as a whole is conveyed almost point-blank.

Twelve Angry Men centers around twelve jurors who are called to reach an unanimous verdict about a murder case wherein a sixteen-year-old boy is accused of murdering his father. However, everybody except Juror #8 votes “guilty.” Although the other eleven jurors are initially skeptical and, to a certain extent, annoyed, at his decision, Juror #8 attempts to convince the others to look at the case from an unbiased perspective — to carefully piece together each puzzle piece without personal prejudices and opinions and immediately jumping to conclusions. The result is 73 pages of a beautiful analysis of, yet a sharp rebuttal against, human nature.

I would recommend this book to people who like drama, legal cases, and literary analyses of human nature — although in theory anybody could pick up Twelve Angry Men and enjoy it. I read the Penguin Classics edition, which features a durable hard cover and a typeface that is small enough such that no additional aids need be used.

Click here to buy the book.

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