Notorious RBG – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)
Audio Book Performance: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

On September 18th, 2020, I opened Facebook to discover the terrible news: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away. Champion of women’s rights, feminist icon, and notorious for her dissents, the United States lost one of its most noble justices. While I was mourning with many others across the nation, for both this amazing woman and for the uncertain future of the supreme court, I realized I didn’t know that much about her. Yes, I knew she was a leading force in the feminist movement and a powerhouse on the Supreme Court, but what adversary did she face? Why was she so strong? So I scoured the internet and found this book, Notorious RBG.

And notorious she is.

This book was fast read (or listen in my case) detailing RBG’s life in a way that would make her proud. I fell more in love with this woman as I learned about her life: a Jewish Woman from Brooklyn, born the same year as my grandmother, she went through many struggles that to me, a millennial, see as a product of the past. Women couldn’t open a bank account without their husband? No maternity leave? While today we still face issues regarding equal pay and the right body autonomy, it’s amazing the hurdles RBG had to overcome. This book gives only glimpse of what she had to deal with, read more like a newspaper report than a novel, but that’s okay. For someone who just wants to dabble in RBG’s life, this is enough to get a feel for this woman.

RBG was more than just the hardworking, nocturnal justice who refused to step back. She was an advocate, a loving partner and mother, an opera enthusiast, and calculated and well thought out individual. She really did do 20 push ups a day, according to her trainer, and while people asked her to step down, she said it wasn’t time. RBG fought the stereotypes placed against women, and even though she is gone, her work is far from over.

RBG has empowered a generation of women to rise up.

Sure, some people on both sides of the political aisle might not agree with her politics. The right might call her a radical feminist, or the left might consider her too compromising. But you have to admire the way she tackled law: educate others but force their opinion. Forcing an opinion ultimately brings backlash, as she detailed with Roe v. Wade. Everything must be done with precision for RBG, that is what made her dissents even more striking and detailed.

As this book was written before Donald Trump’s election in 2016, I do wonder how RBG’s opinions changed. Did she regret not stepping down during Obama’s presidency? (Probably not.) Did she fear for our country and her legacy? (I would imagine so.) But did she fight? (Absolutely.)

I intend to keep learning about RBG and other women who have helped make my life today possible. This won’t be the last book about Ruth Bader Ginsburg I’ll read.

What’s it about?

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg never asked for fame—she has only tried to make the world a little better and a little freer.

But nearly a half-century into her career, something funny happened to the octogenarian: she won the internet. Across America, people who weren’t even born when Ginsburg first made her name as a feminist pioneer are tattooing themselves with her face, setting her famously searing dissents to music, and making viral videos in tribute.

Notorious RBG, inspired by the Tumblr that amused the Justice herself and brought to you by its founder and an award-winning feminist journalist, is more than just a love letter. It draws on intimate access to Ginsburg’s family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks, as well an interview with the Justice herself. An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcends generational divides. 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.

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