Friday, January 8, 2016

Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

RBG often repeated her mother's advice that getting angry was a waste of your own time. Even more often, she shared her mother-in-law's counsel for marriage: that sometimes it helped to be a little deaf. Those words had served her in the bad old days of  blatant sexism, through the conservative backlash of the eighties, and on a court of people essentially stuck together for life. But lately, RBG was tired of pretending not to hear....That 2012-2013 term, reading dissents from the bench in five cases, RBG broke a half-century-long record among all justices. 

I'm a huge fan of ladies who kick ass and do things people don't expect them to, and I have developed an appreciation for SCOTUS because I share bookshelves with Randy, who reads a lot of legal books. He once dressed up as Darth Bader for Halloween and I bought him his own Notorious RBG shirt, but I personally didn't know a lot about her outside of her memeification. Then I was binge listening to the podcast Call Your Girlfriend and the hosts share RBG love frequently. Aminatou Sow even got to go to the Supreme Court and meet RBG! In a recent episode she calls Irin Carmon to chat about the book and their talk was the final thing that pushed me into adding this book to my Christmas list. 

The book is excellent, well-researched, well-written, and engaging. The pages are glossy full-color, although there are some problematic graphics (the timeline in the opening pages is really difficult to follow). It's definitely not a book targeting academics or scholars, but was more serious than I was expecting for a pop biography based on a meme. It is full of amazing and horrible anecdotes about RBG's life, like the memo she sent to another supreme court justice after her clerks' fantasy baseball team beat his clerks' fantasy baseball team or the times that people shook her husband's hand after being introduced to "Justice Ginsberg". It has charts outlining cases she argued in front of the supreme court as well as her dissents as a justice. Her legal writings are excerpted and annotated in a way that is very user-friendly for non-lawyers. 

This book is for every feminist, every person interested in equal rights, and any person who works with the justice system. I had tears in my eyes when I finished the book (which I didn't realize was over because there are many many pages of endnotes) and then immediately lent it to a lady friend who I thought would love it (it turned out it was already on her list). 

1 comment:

billy said...

I think we've gotten about four copies of this book for Christmas/Meagan's birthday. I can't wait to read it as soon as she's done.