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Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon andShana Knizhnik

BOTTOM LINE: A fascinating look at a remarkable woman

Genre: Nonfiction
Publication Date: 27 October 2015
Source: Mine. All mine.

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“Nearly a half-century into being a feminist and legal pioneer, something funny happened to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: the octogenarian won the internet. Across America, people who weren’t even born when Ginsburg made her name are tattooing themselves with her face, setting her famously searing dissents to music, and making viral videos in tribute. In a class of its own, and much to Ginsburg’s own amusement, is the Notorious RBG Tumblr, which juxtaposes the diminutive but fierce Jewish grandmother with the 350-pound rapper featuring original artwork submitted from around the world.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers a visually rich, intimate, unprecedented look at the Justice and how she changed the world. From Ginsburg’s refusal to let the slammed doors of sexism stop her to her innovative legal work, from her before-its-time feminist marriage to her perch on the nation’s highest court—with the fierce dissents to match—get to know RBG as never before. As the country struggles with the unfinished business of gender equality and civil rights, Ginsburg stands as a testament to how far we can come with a little chutzpah.”

My Thoughts: After finishing Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I feel like you should take my feminist card away from me, for I had no idea just how influential RBG was in punching through the glass ceiling and establishing equal rights for caretakers of any gender. In fact, I had no knowledge of her past or her positions while on the Supreme Court. I only knew her as one of the lone liberals on the highest court of the land and someone hundreds of thousands of women adore. Now I understand why.

The remarkable thing about RBG is that hers is no Cinderella story. She did not kiss a prince and get to sit on the highest court in the country. She fought and worked for every success. She broke through gender barriers, battled sexism in the workplace, fought against gender stereotypes with every forward movement of her career. She did so with unwavering dedication to not only her career and her beliefs but to her family. She made sacrifices and learned the importance of compromise.

Moreover, she never expected drastic changes to occur overnight. Her work with the ACLU is just a microcosm of the philosophy she actually applied to her education and career: slow changes over time will be more successful than sudden drastic ones. She shows this with her fight to obtain her law degree to teaching law to her stint as a judge in various courts around the nation. She continues to apply the same philosophy in her decisions/dissents on the Supreme Court. It is a valuable lesson in this day and age where life seems to change daily. Ms. Carmon and Ms. Knizhnik do an excellent job of pulling together the remarkable details of her life and showing how she has faced every challenge with the same gentle grace and spine of steel that we still see today.

The audiobook version of this biography is engaging and well-narrated. My only complaint is that I missed seeing pictures. I found myself searching for pictures of a younger RBG and her beloved Marty so that I could not only put a face to the name but to also see the woman behind the robe. For that reason, I think this is one book best served in print. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Ms. Arndt’s narration or the audio performance; it is just missing that extra something that the pictures in biographies bring.

Listening to this biography of Justice Ginsburg after the 2016 election is like a punch in the gut. Not only do you get the impression that Ginsburg would have already retired by now had HRC won, you have to wonder just how different our world would be right now with both RBG and HRC serving the government at the same time. It is enough to make my heart ache at the lost possibilities. However, if you learn one thing from Notorious RBG it is that RBG still has not given up fighting for equal rights and a better world for all, and neither should we. All hail RBG, indeed.

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