Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Review: Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

Title: Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Authors: Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Audible
Content Alert: a clean read

Before picking up Notorious RBG, I didn't know all that much about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the nine justices who serves in the US Supreme Court. I mean, I knew she leaned to the left, liked to work out, and fell asleep during the State of the Union, all of which made me feel a sense of kinship with her, but I didn't know much about her beyond that. Notorious RBG changed that. It helped me see RBG not as a woman who got where she is in life because she prioritized career over family, but as a woman who delighted in marriage and motherhood, and was inspired by her relationships to fight for the rights of women. When I read obituaries (which I often do), I'm struck by how often the circumstances of someone's life lead them down a particular path. While Ginsburg married right out of college and had a baby on a military base within a couple of years, she also had a uniquely supportive spouse, and his cancer treatments while they were in law school meant that she only had one child for many years. While his condition likely felt devastating to the young family, in some ways they also enabled RBG to give more attention to her career than she may have been able to do had she been raising a larger family. Notorious RBG humanizes Ginsburg, and gives equal weight to quirky things about her private life (she's apparently really good at doing pushups) and the significant achievements in her public life. This is a quick read, and one I enjoyed.

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