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Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law

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In her own words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers an intimate look at her life and career, through an extraordinary series of conversations with the head of the National Constitution Center. This remarkable book presents a unique portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, drawing on more than twenty years of conversations with Jeffrey Rosen, starting in the 1990s and continuing In her own words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers an intimate look at her life and career, through an extraordinary series of conversations with the head of the National Constitution Center. This remarkable book presents a unique portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, drawing on more than twenty years of conversations with Jeffrey Rosen, starting in the 1990s and continuing through the Trump era. Rosen, a veteran legal journalist, scholar, and president of the National Constitution Center, shares with us the justice's observations on a variety of topics, and her intellect, compassion, sense of humor, and humanity shine through. The affection they have for each other as friends is apparent in their banter and in their shared love for the Constitution--and for opera. In Conversations with RBG, Justice Ginsburg discusses the future of Roe v. Wade, her favorite dissents, the cases she would most like to see overruled, the #MeToo movement, how to be a good listener, how to lead a productive and compassionate life, and of course the future of the Supreme Court itself. These frank exchanges illuminate the steely determination, self-mastery, and wit that have inspired Americans of all ages to embrace the woman known to all as "Notorious RBG." Whatever the topic, Justice Ginsburg always has something interesting--and often surprising--to say. And while few of us will ever have the opportunity to chat with her face-to-face, Jeffrey Rosen brings us by her side as never before. Conversations with RBG is a deeply felt portrait of an American hero.


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In her own words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers an intimate look at her life and career, through an extraordinary series of conversations with the head of the National Constitution Center. This remarkable book presents a unique portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, drawing on more than twenty years of conversations with Jeffrey Rosen, starting in the 1990s and continuing In her own words, Ruth Bader Ginsburg offers an intimate look at her life and career, through an extraordinary series of conversations with the head of the National Constitution Center. This remarkable book presents a unique portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, drawing on more than twenty years of conversations with Jeffrey Rosen, starting in the 1990s and continuing through the Trump era. Rosen, a veteran legal journalist, scholar, and president of the National Constitution Center, shares with us the justice's observations on a variety of topics, and her intellect, compassion, sense of humor, and humanity shine through. The affection they have for each other as friends is apparent in their banter and in their shared love for the Constitution--and for opera. In Conversations with RBG, Justice Ginsburg discusses the future of Roe v. Wade, her favorite dissents, the cases she would most like to see overruled, the #MeToo movement, how to be a good listener, how to lead a productive and compassionate life, and of course the future of the Supreme Court itself. These frank exchanges illuminate the steely determination, self-mastery, and wit that have inspired Americans of all ages to embrace the woman known to all as "Notorious RBG." Whatever the topic, Justice Ginsburg always has something interesting--and often surprising--to say. And while few of us will ever have the opportunity to chat with her face-to-face, Jeffrey Rosen brings us by her side as never before. Conversations with RBG is a deeply felt portrait of an American hero.

30 review for Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law

  1. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Ruth Bader Ginsberg The book's author, Jeffrey Rosen, is an American scholar and law professor who's been called "the nation's most widely read and influential legal commentator." Jeffrey Rosen Rosen first met Ruth Bader Ginsberg in an elevator in 1991, when he was a law clerk and she was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Not knowing what to say, Rosen blurted out a question about what opera Ginsburg had seen recently, and they immediately bonded over their mutual Ruth Bader Ginsberg The book's author, Jeffrey Rosen, is an American scholar and law professor who's been called "the nation's most widely read and influential legal commentator." Jeffrey Rosen Rosen first met Ruth Bader Ginsberg in an elevator in 1991, when he was a law clerk and she was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Not knowing what to say, Rosen blurted out a question about what opera Ginsburg had seen recently, and they immediately bonded over their mutual love of opera. Afterwards, when Rosen became the legal affairs editor of the New Republic - writing about the law and the Supreme Court - he and Ginsburg began corresponding about articles he'd written and operas she'd seen. Rosen and Ginsburg have been exchanging letters, talking, and occasionally attending operas together ever since. Rosen interviewed Ginsburg many times, and draws from those talks for this book. Rosen notes that Ginsburg's approach to cases "didn't focus on abstract principles; they always focused on the real world challenges faced by individual men and women trying to define their life paths." Young Ruth Bader Ginsburg As general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union's Women's Rights Project from 1972 to 1980, Ginsburg's mission was to convince the Supreme Court "that legislation apparently designed to benefit or protect women could often have the opposite effect." Ginsburg observed, "There wasn't a great understanding of gender discrimination. People knew that race discrimination was an odious thing, but there were many who thought that all the gender-based differentials in the law operated benignly in women's favor. So my objective was to take the Court step by step to the realization that the pedestal on which some thought women were standing all too often turned out to be a cage." To convince the Supreme Court, Ginsburg took the case of a man, which might resonate with the nine male justices. In 1975 Ginsburg represented Stephen Wiesenfeld, a computer consultant whose wife - a teacher - died during childbirth. Wiesenfeld applied for his wife's Social Security benefits, so he could work part-time and stay home with the baby. However, the law only permitted widows - not widowers - to collect special benefits, and Wiesenfeld's application was denied. When Ginsburg took Wiesenfeld's case to the Supreme Court she won, and the case set an example for the equal treatment of men and women. Ginsburg often discussed cases from "the bad old days", when the Court repeatedly upheld distinctions based on sex. For example, in 1961 a woman named Gwendolyn Hoyt killed her abusive husband, and was convicted of murder by an all-male jury. At that time, women were either not called for jury duty, or excused if they requested it, just because they were female. In an appeal, Hoyt's lawyer challenged the gender-based exclusion of women from the jury pool. She held that the inability to have a jury that included females - who might have argued for manslaughter rather than murder - deprived Hoyt of her rights. Hoyt lost the case. However, a fire was lit under Ginsburg and - due to her efforts - the 'opt-out' policy for women serving on juries was ruled unconstitutional in the late 1970s. Ginsburg's policy for chiseling away at gender discrimination continued after she was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice on August 10, 1993. Ruth Bader Ginsburg being sworn in as a Supreme Court justice Rosen notes, "every one of the cases she chipped away at involved a law based on the premise that men earned the money and women tended to the home and children" - legislation that Ginsburg thought was unfair. As evidence of Ginsburg's leanings, Rosen mentions seeing a photograph in her chambers of the justice's son-in-law gazing at his child (Ginsburg's grandson). Ginsburg told Rosen 'this is my dream for the future.' At first Rosen took it to mean something about the joys of grandchildren. He later came to realize that Ginsburg was referring to the transformation of sex roles, that fathers and mothers take equal responsibility for children. Ginsburg always insisted that "men and women would be truly equal only when they take equal responsibility for child rearing." This was a policy followed by Ruth and her husband Martin Ginsburg, a brilliant attorney specializing in tax law. Young Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Martin Ginsburg Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Martin Ginsburg with their daughter In fact Ginsburg's very first hire on the Supreme Court was a male law clerk whose application said he was studying law at night because his wife - an economist - had a good job at the World Bank and he had to help take care of his two small children. Rosen remarks, "By 1997 Ginsburg was seen as the new face of liberalism on the Supreme Court", and over the years "she has become one of the most inspiring American icons of our time and is now recognized as one of the most influential figures for constitutional change in American history." Asked about her favorite cases on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg cites a 1996 case that struck down the Virginia Military Institute's all-male admissions policy. This marked the climax of challenges to single-sex public schools that she'd launched with her husband in the 1970s. Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her husband Martin Ginsburg were loving lifelong partners Ginsburg explains that the changing views of the Supreme Court over time follow changes in society. In her view, "justices should generally defer to other decision makers (Congress, state legislatures, state courts, constitutional amendments) and should be guided by 'measured motion' - meaning they should not leap too far ahead of public opinion." Shifts in society lead to evolving decisions about gender equality, civil rights, gay marriage, and so on. Nevertheless, Ginsburg notes that there are times when the Court has to step ahead of the political branches - in the case of race discrimination, for instance. Ginsburg recalls, "Because there was little prospect of state legislatures dismantling segregation in the South, the Court had to step into the breach." The Court ultimately rejected Jim Crow legislation and killed the prospect of separate but equal. In addition to the cases I've cited above, the book includes many of Ginsburg's views about other topics, including abortion legislation, pregnancy discrimination, civil liberties, unconscious bias, life-work balance, and the importance of dissenting opinions. According to Ginsburg, "the value of dissenting opinions is in persuading future generations to correct perceived injustice." For example, in a 2014 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld a law that allows Hobby Lobby to deny health care coverage for women's contraceptives because of the owners' religious beliefs. Ginsburg wrote a dissenting opinion because Hobby Lobby, a for-profit business, employs hundreds of women who don't share those religious beliefs. In more recent interviews, Ginsburg talks about issues like the #MeToo movement. This crusade, in which women used newspapers, social media, and other platforms to demand respect, is an example of "how quickly social change can be produced by political activism from the ground up." Ginsburg hopes the #MeToo movement is here to stay, and that "it becomes as effective for the woman who works as a maid in a hotel as it is for Hollywood stars." #MeToo took down some Hollywood bigwigs Ginsburg observes that no further legislation is needed to ensure that women are respected in the workplace. She notes, "the laws are there, the laws are in place. It takes people to step forward and use them. Women have to say this is bad behavior. You should not engage in it, and I will not submit to it." Ginsburg goes on to say, "It's easier today because there are numbers to support women who say so. We no longer hear as often as we did in the past, 'She's making it up'." Ginsburg also insists there should be due process for the accused. "The person who is accused has a right to defend herself or himself. Everyone deserves a fair hearing." Asked about her advice to men in this new regime, Ginsburg says, "Just think how you would like the women in your family to be treated, particularly your daughters." To the new generation of feminists who look to her as a role model, Ginsburg says, "Work for the things that you care about. Don't take no for an answer. If you have a dream, something you want to pursue, and you're willing to do the work that's necessary to make the dream come true, don't let anyone tell you, you can't do it. And you have, nowadays, many like-minded people who can join with you in opposing unfair treatment, treatment of you as less than a full citizen." As for Ginsburg's hopes for the future, she'd like to see campaign finance reform. On a personal level, Ginsburg talks about her friendship with Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Antonin Scalia, and her great fondness for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who she served with for her first 12 years on the court. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Justice Antonin Scalia Chief Justice William Rehnquist Ginsburg and Scalia were philosophical opposites. In fact, Ginsburg led the Court's liberal wing while Scalia led the Court's conservative wing (until his death in 2016). Despite their differences, Ginsburg and Scalia were close friends. When they disagreed about cases, "they did so with relative equanimity because of the strength of their friendship, sustained by gourmet meals cooked by Marty Ginsberg and culminating in an annual New Year's Eve dinner at the Ginsburgs' home that often involved singing together around the piano." An amusing offshoot of the Ginsburg-Scalia friendship is a comic opera called Scalia/Ginsburg written by Derrick Wang - a writer, librettist, and composer who attended the University of Maryland law school. Derrick Wang The opera "celebrates the virtues of the court through an affectionate, comic look at the unofficial leaders of its conservative and liberal wings." The Scalia/Ginsburg opera Ginsburg is amazed at her transformation into a judicial celebrity, especially when she became an internet sensation and then an American icon. In 2013 Shana Knizhnik, an NYU law student, created the Tumblr blog 'Notorious R.B.G', and afterwards co-wrote a book called 'Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.' Khizhnik was inspired by the justice "because Ginsburg defies stereotypes. She is a grandmother, but she shows so much strength, and she is who she is without apology." To add to her mystique, Ginsburg works out regularly with a trainer, whom she shares with Justice Elena Kagan. Ruth Bader Ginsburg working out Ginsburg's fame inspired all manner of RBG merchandise, especially sweatshirts and t-shirts. On a light note, Ginsburg observed that Chief Justice Rehnquist added four gold stripes to each sleeve of his black robe in 1995. To explain the uptick in sartorial splendor, Rehnquist admitted "he did not wish to be upstaged by the women." (Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg always wore attractive neckpieces.) Chief Justice Rehnquist added stripes to his robe In his acknowledgements Rosen writes a moving tribute to his mother Estelle Rosen, and says about Ginsburg: "Justice Ginsberg is an inspiration on so many levels, including how to live a good life - a life of disciplined focus and self-mastery, dedicated to the welfare of others. Thanks to her efforts as a pathbreaking advocate, judge, and Supreme Court justice, she is a personal and constitutional hero." Thanks to Netgalley, the author (Jeffrey Rosen), and the publisher (Henry Holt and Co.) for a copy of the book. You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....

  2. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    An interesting introduction to work and life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I liked the way the author chose to let the reader discover the opinions and hopes of this remarkable woman through her cases and her own words. Thank you to Edelweiss and Henry Holt Co. for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    Ruth Bader Ginsberg IS a treasure to this country, and a personal hero of mine, and all the millions of other roles she plays in the lives of strangers she doesn't even know - that's a spectacular mantle to wear, and she does it with panache! Conversations with RGB is a treat. Each is introduced with the background to place the conversation in context, and then the recorded session transcribed for readers now and forever to slide our benches close in, lean forward and listen, or eavesdrop maybe. Ruth Bader Ginsberg IS a treasure to this country, and a personal hero of mine, and all the millions of other roles she plays in the lives of strangers she doesn't even know - that's a spectacular mantle to wear, and she does it with panache! Conversations with RGB is a treat. Each is introduced with the background to place the conversation in context, and then the recorded session transcribed for readers now and forever to slide our benches close in, lean forward and listen, or eavesdrop maybe. I enjoyed this book, each section considering relevant topics dealt with in her years as a judge. I especially found it satisfying to see where she pinpointed authority in and from actual case cites, as a foundation for her positions and thinking. There are tidbits about her time with the Supremes, but also her days coming up, jobs that shaped her, people and experiences that firmed her hunches, preferences and leanings into judicial wisdom. There are mentions given of her relationships, those who loved her and who she has loved by preserving, by keeping safe those valuable bonds for which one sacrifices every moment and effort: balancing, awobble, the tightrope of risk that is an entire life. Only she, RGB, has done it in public, with benefits to us that reach out to our work lives, home lives, love lives and our lives as citizens of a land in common. Do I recommend it? 5 stars+. God Save the Queen? Sure. But first, please Save RGB, ok? A sincere thanks to Jeffrey Rosen, Henry Holt & Company and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    This is the RBG book I’ve been waiting for. My huge thanks go to Net Galley and Henry Holt Publishers for the review copy. This book will be publicly available November 5, 2019. Justice Ginsburg wants us to know that the sky is not falling. Though progressive thinkers see great cause for concern, primarily within the executive branch of the federal government, the U.S. Constitution hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court, she insists, is made up entirely of strong legal minds that revere it. This is the RBG book I’ve been waiting for. My huge thanks go to Net Galley and Henry Holt Publishers for the review copy. This book will be publicly available November 5, 2019. Justice Ginsburg wants us to know that the sky is not falling. Though progressive thinkers see great cause for concern, primarily within the executive branch of the federal government, the U.S. Constitution hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court, she insists, is made up entirely of strong legal minds that revere it. Precedents are still the basis of future rulings; the overturn of precedent is rare and unusual. But for activists—and she loves us—she also points out that public opinion is what alters the course of the law. Congress makes laws based on what their constituency desires. So she isn’t suggesting we put away our pussy hats and our picket signs; she just wants us to know that our advocacy works, and she appreciates everything we do to further women’s rights, civil rights, and gay rights. Twice previously I read other books about RBG; one is a popular biography that I enjoyed, but that didn’t go deeply enough into Ginsburg’s legal ideas, and the second is just dross, minutiae gathered from her high school year book and whatnot. Whereas part of me just wants her to write an autobiography, I have to recognize that she is very elderly, has faced health challenges lately, and to stand a chance of writing any sort of memoir, she’d probably have to resign from the Court. And goodness knows, I want her to stay there, ideally forever. Instead, Rosen’s series of interviews with this feminist icon serves nicely. Rosen has been friends with Justice Ginsberg for many years; they were drawn together initially through elevator discussions of opera. His chapters are brief but meaty, organized around key rulings and topical interviews. Rosen explains succinctly at the outset how this friendship formed and grew, but he doesn’t get windy or use the opportunity to aggrandize himself. He keeps the focus strictly on his subject. The interviews flow in an agreeable manner that is literate without being verbose or Byzantine. We live in politically polarized times, and so even when I am reading about a political figure that I admire, I generally expect my blood pressure to rise a little, perhaps in passionate agreement. But if anyone in this nation has the long view of history and the key domestic issues that have unfolded, particularly with regard to the rights of women, it is RBG. And although I am not as senior a citizen as Justice Ginsburg, many of the changes she mentions that have occurred over the decades are ones that I can also attest to, though I hadn’t thought of them in years. For example, when I came of age in the 1970s, it was still not unusual to try to enter a bar or club only to be barred at the doorway because women weren’t allowed inside. (“Gentlemen only, Ma’am. Sorry.”) I had forgotten about these things; as her recollections unspool I see that she is right. Change happens, but lasting change happens slowly. We are getting there, at least with regard to women’s rights and gay rights. Issues of race and class are something else entirely, and she points up specific instances where justice has not progressed and change is imperative. I could say more, but none of it would be as wise or as articulate as when Ginsburg says it. If you’ve read this far in my review, you should go ahead and order this excellent book now. I highly recommend it to all that are interested in social justice, both formal and informal.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    I'm going to open by saying I was disappointed by this book—but I'm hoping you'll keep reading this review and still consider it as a book you might enjoy. The good news • It's a delight to hear stories from Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life and career in her own words. • The fact that this book is based on conversations makes the prose reader-friendly. • The book offers a great introduction to the development of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legal thinking over time. The not so good news • If you've followed Ruth I'm going to open by saying I was disappointed by this book—but I'm hoping you'll keep reading this review and still consider it as a book you might enjoy. The good news • It's a delight to hear stories from Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life and career in her own words. • The fact that this book is based on conversations makes the prose reader-friendly. • The book offers a great introduction to the development of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legal thinking over time. The not so good news • If you've followed Ruth Bader Ginsburg's career, you'll know most of the information included here—there are no great revelations. • The book is composed of transcripts of multiple conversations, separated into individual thematic units, then recombined to create chapters with specific foci. This mostly works, but there's a fair bit of repetition. I would have appreciated a much firmer editorial hand. Bottom line If you're looking for an introduction to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this is a great text that you'll enjoy reading. If you're a long-term fan of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you're not likely to learn much that's new. Note: I received a free electronic ARC of this title for review purposes. The opinions are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I admit my knowledge and understanding of the Supreme Court is barely adequate, based mostly on headline news and gleanings from my readings in history and biographies. With some trepidation, I proceeded to read Conversations with RBG, worried it would be 'over my head.' I was immediately pleased to find Jeffrey Rosen's book was informative, with a good sense of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's personality and ideas about "life, love, liberty, and law," and yet accessible to a general reader like I admit my knowledge and understanding of the Supreme Court is barely adequate, based mostly on headline news and gleanings from my readings in history and biographies. With some trepidation, I proceeded to read Conversations with RBG, worried it would be 'over my head.' I was immediately pleased to find Jeffrey Rosen's book was informative, with a good sense of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg's personality and ideas about "life, love, liberty, and law," and yet accessible to a general reader like myself. Most of the cases discussed were quite well known, although in Rosen's chapter introductions there were references to cases outside of my knowledge. Each chapter is a transcript of a conversation between Rosen and RBG that took place over time, focusing on one aspect of her life or career. The conversations consider landmark Supreme Court cases but also consider the present and future of the Court. Rosen and RBG bonded over a shared love of opera. Classical music and opera are RBG's passion, bringing beauty, joy, and therapeutic escape into her workaholic life. I appreciated learning about her early cases working with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Women's Rights Project. RBG endeavored for laws that were neutral in regards to sex, so that men and women had the same, equal protections. I think that men and women, shoulder to shoulder, will work together to make this a better world.~RBG quoted in Conversations with RBG All the landmark cases are addressed from RBG's landmark cases to her dissenting votes. A very interesting chapter concerns RBG's meeting with Margaret Atwood. Also discussed is how RBG became a cultural icon, memorialized in opera and social media memes. Rosen asked, "What's the worst ruling" the current Court has produced, and she answered Citizens United. "I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays fo far from what our democracy is supposed to be." I read in the newspaper today that Virginia passed the Equal Rights Amendment, which RBG had supported. Last night I had read about Rosen asking if the ERA might be revived in correlation with the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment. RBG replied that because some states withdrew their ratification "it would be better to start over." I appreciated RBG's philosophy of the court being "a reactive institution." She believes the Court should respect the legislative judgment of Congress. RBG is hopeful, understanding that the American democratic experiment is an ever-evolving process. "I am an originalist; I think we're constantly forming a more perfect Union, which is what the Founders intended. As bad as things may be, there are better than they once were. These are not the best of times, but think of how many bad time's I've experienced in my long lig.e Starting with the Second World War...then Senator Joe McCarthy...Then Vietnam. Somehow, we have gotten over the worst of times."~RBG in Conversations with RBG by Jeffrey Rosen I won a free book from the publisher through LibraryThing. My review is fair and unbiased.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Noel

    *Free copy for an honest review Like many people, I only really started paying attention to politics in the past few years. I knew that Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) was an important figure, but never really looked further into it. When she needed surgery and people were clamoring to offer their blood and organs, whatever she needed, I figured I should read up on her. Fortunately this book became available and I took the opportunity to educate myself. I'm very glad I did. This is neither a full *Free copy for an honest review Like many people, I only really started paying attention to politics in the past few years. I knew that Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) was an important figure, but never really looked further into it. When she needed surgery and people were clamoring to offer their blood and organs, whatever she needed, I figured I should read up on her. Fortunately this book became available and I took the opportunity to educate myself. I'm very glad I did. This is neither a full biography nor a full case list. This has biographical elements but focuses on major past cases and how they influence current cases. It's also a lot of RBG discussing her hopes for the future. Honestly, the fact that she still has hope for the future does wonders for my overall anxiety about the world. She has an amazing approach to equal gender rights that she modeled off Thurgood Marshall's approach to equal rights for minorities. Incremental, showing those in power how these rules hurt them, and genuinely going for equality. At first I was surprised to find someone who had promoted equality was subject to scorn from feminist groups. I took every chapter, every interview question on that, as a lesson in reading past the headlines. I think that should be the message with almost every Supreme Court Justice. It's so very easy to get caught up in the headlines and following the rage. But in this day and age, we need to do ourselves a favor and read more, get the full story, and reserve our torches and pitchforks for the truly important things. She criticized Roe v Wade because it was, essentially, a legislation forced to walk around on stilts with no training. She was correct in predicting this would lead to all of the many, many, many challenges it has received since. This was quite the legislative history lesson for me. I'll never go back. RBG is truly an interesting character and her relationship with the other Justices is a wonderful example for disagreeing without it coming to blows. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and will be picking up more books about the Justices. 4 hoots!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Arik Hardin

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an American hero and an inspiration, and I so enjoyed reading her story in her own words. Although the world is in a state of terror and disarray right now, hearing RBG's insight and optimism have really made me hopeful for our future (at least a little bit). If you're a fan of RBG but don't know that much about her life and career, this is an excellent way to fall more in love with her.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katherine "Kj" Joslin

    The way the data is formatted makes the chapters very repetitive but I love hearing all about RBG and her cases. I enjoyed it a ton.

  10. 5 out of 5

    EsquiredToRead

    Really good and I would really recommend this one. Yes, it was a little repetitive but still an important and good read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Ruth Bader Ginsberg has become a very popular figure in our culture in the past few years. This book by Jeffrey Rosen has information, background and, most importantly, interviews with RBG. Justice Ginsberg reveals herself as a brilliant, thoughtful, and amazing person. She shows herself to be worthy of all the attention.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    A fab insight into the workings and innermost thoughts of RBG in her own words during one on one conversation with this legal scholar and author. I truly enjoyed the expert commentary and workings of the most important cases of our history including Roe v. Wade and Brown v Board of Education to name just a few. It's remarkable at her age that she's not only in continuous pursuit of excellence but is remarkably in good spirits and health to even be continuing the fight for equality for all. Her calm A fab insight into the workings and innermost thoughts of RBG in her own words during one on one conversation with this legal scholar and author. I truly enjoyed the expert commentary and workings of the most important cases of our history including Roe v. Wade and Brown v Board of Education to name just a few. It's remarkable at her age that she's not only in continuous pursuit of excellence but is remarkably in good spirits and health to even be continuing the fight for equality for all. Her calm demeanor and wonderful brilliance is a gone by era that I wish we had more of on our highest courts. So many make quick judgments in regards to the decision making processes that's refreshing to see the extensive work and dissents to sway votes and get their points across within both sides of the aisle. A remarkable career, a remarkable woman, a remarkable soul! Highly recommend reading!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Love love love her. Love. I'm giving this a four star rating simply because, and I wonder if the Justice would agree, but there are a few too many instances where things are repeated as if we're reading it for the first time. Granted I understand this book is a series of sit-down interviews, but I think editing could've allowed for less repetitiveness. It would not have detracted from the overall message/story - but I get why it is the way it is. If I could share a new favorite quote of mine Love love love her. Love. I'm giving this a four star rating simply because, and I wonder if the Justice would agree, but there are a few too many instances where things are repeated as if we're reading it for the first time. Granted I understand this book is a series of sit-down interviews, but I think editing could've allowed for less repetitiveness. It would not have detracted from the overall message/story - but I get why it is the way it is. If I could share a new favorite quote of mine (and not just from this book, but if any book), "work for the things you care about." I loathe the word things, as a former teacher (even though I used it here), but the simplicity and directness here are perfect. That statement is relevant to all of us. Every person should be working for (planning for, living for..) whatever it is that we care about. Figure out what "it" is, and run with it. Ah, so good!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Preeti

    This book is a great introduction to Ruth Bader Ginsburg but it may not provide any new information for fans that have followed her career since the beginning. I only recently watched her documentaries on Netflix so I had some knowledge of RBG already and this book served as a great addition. In the book we get a rundown of her landmark cases, her thoughts on marriage, the cases she would overturn as well as her thoughts on the #metoo movement and so much more. It reads like a biography with This book is a great introduction to Ruth Bader Ginsburg but it may not provide any new information for fans that have followed her career since the beginning. I only recently watched her documentaries on Netflix so I had some knowledge of RBG already and this book served as a great addition. In the book we get a rundown of her landmark cases, her thoughts on marriage, the cases she would overturn as well as her thoughts on the #metoo movement and so much more. It reads like a biography with some parts that are interview style, going back and forth between her and Jeffery Rosen. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who would like a good intro to the life and career of RBG. Thank you to Netgalley and Henry Holt & Co. for providing my with this ebook for review. This in no way impacts my review. All opinions are my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I received a free copy from Henry Holt and Co. through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Jeffrey Rosen's interviews with Ruth Bader Ginsburg are captured in Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law and provide a sense of who Ginsburg is both inside and outside of the court. Considering that Rosen and Ginsburg have known each other since 1991, their friendship and deep respect come through in the text. Organized by theme, the reader gets a sense of how I received a free copy from Henry Holt and Co. through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Jeffrey Rosen's interviews with Ruth Bader Ginsburg are captured in Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law and provide a sense of who Ginsburg is both inside and outside of the court. Considering that Rosen and Ginsburg have known each other since 1991, their friendship and deep respect come through in the text. Organized by theme, the reader gets a sense of how Ginsburg feels about various social issues that have reached the court circuits in the past and present. I enjoyed Rosen's chapter introductions and felt that they helped contextualize the interviews. The description of the cases mentioned by Ginsburg was also helpful since I was not familiar with some of them. As a whole, the book felt like a great introductory primer told in Ginsburg's own words, covering the work that she has done throughout her judicial career. However, there's repetition between chapters since some of the same cases cover adjacent themes. Additionally, if you're familiar with Ginsburg this doesn't really introduce anything shocking or revolutionary. Overall, I did enjoy this book, but just wished for more.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    Because I love reading about RBG, I enjoyed reading this book. However, because I have read so many books about RBG, this one offered no new insights to the Supreme Court Justice's life and work. The reason why I gave the book 4 stars is because it is a bit repetitive--the introductions give away key moments of each interview so that by the time you read the interview it is almost as if you have read the same thing twice.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hoffman Brauman

    I am in awe of Ginsburg's mind and always enjoy reading about her. She is so incredibly articulate and thoughtful in her response. I also appreciate how she speaks about the collegiality of the court and how people with very different personal views work together, disagree professionally, speak passionately, and still remain respectful in everything they do.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This book gives you an insight into RBG's philosophy about cases and how the Supreme Court should react to cases. Very interesting and well written.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    I liked RBG previous to listening to this book, but post listening - my respect for her has grown exponentially! I highly recommend!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tzipora

    I adore Ruth Bader Ginsburg and wanted to love this book. In fact, I thought I wanted to buy it but am glad I ended up getting access to it through Net Galley because I would’ve been upset to have spent my money on this. I think it would’ve been a nice coffee table type book of RBG interviews and quotes. Or it could’ve been a nice introduction to her, her gender discrimination cases, experiences on the Supreme Court, and thoughts and views. Unfortunately, this book is a bit of a mess that needed I adore Ruth Bader Ginsburg and wanted to love this book. In fact, I thought I wanted to buy it but am glad I ended up getting access to it through Net Galley because I would’ve been upset to have spent my money on this. I think it would’ve been a nice coffee table type book of RBG interviews and quotes. Or it could’ve been a nice introduction to her, her gender discrimination cases, experiences on the Supreme Court, and thoughts and views. Unfortunately, this book is a bit of a mess that needed to be edited or co stricter much differently. The author, a prominent legal scholar and journalist, ended up befriending Ginsburg back when he was a clerk on the US Court of Appeals and she was a judge there. They bonded over a love of opera and when she was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Clinton a few years later, Rosen was then writing for the New Republic and it was a piece by him that helped sway public and congressional opinion for RBG, both before her official nomination and during the congressional hearing to approve her nomination. So Rosen was in a very unique position to be writing this book. In fact, I’m positive he could’ve written an excellent book on RBG, but unfortunately this isn’t that. I wonder if this book would’ve been better as a biography with the addition perhaps of some of Rosen’s personal experiences and interviews with her. Or the coffee table book idea I mentioned. Instead it’s kind of a mashup of both and that’s it’s greatest failing. Chapters are split up into themes such as Roe vs Wade, the #MeToo movement, famous dissents, cases Ruth would like overturned, etc. There are transcripts from several interviews Rosen had with Ruth and because of the way they’re organized by topic and that these are sections from more than one interview, things get repetitive. But worse still, before each interview section, Rosen writes an introduction explaining various things, the history, how the Supreme Court works, etc. In a way, I enjoyed this. It gives context to some of what comes up in the interview. The only problem is, this intro often ends up summarizing everything that comes after it in chapter. He repeatedly quoted or expounds on RBG’s views so a few minutes later when you’re reading the interview it’s a repeat of what you’ve just read but this time in Ruth’s own words. This bother me much more, I think, than seeing a few things get repeated from one chapter to the next (an issue other reviewers have called out as well). I could’ve handled some repetition in that sense. It’s also why I think the interview transcripts would’ve made a nice coffee table book to pick up and read parts of at different times. But to see things repeated on the same chapter or have the introduction to each chapter make the interviews almost pointless was frustrating. I like the introductions and background info Rosen gives in each chapter though. I also like and enjoyed highlighting Ruth’s own words. But I feel these could’ve been integrated better, perhaps? Or this almost could’ve been two different books but does not work well as is. I’ve also seen or read parts of these prominent interviews before as I’m sure other RBG fans have as well. This book might make a nice introduction for someone looking to know more about RBG but for longtime fans or more legally and politically minded folks, unfortunately there isn’t really anything new to learn here that I haven’t heard or seen covered elsewhere. I think the interview transcripts still would’ve made a nice addition to the collection of fans or people with an interest in US law and politics or the chapter intros could’ve been extended or worked through better to make a fantastic intro to RBG. I guess this book suffers from not knowing just what it wants to be. I’m kind of surprised it got published and unfortunately thing the combination of Ruth’s popularity and the author’s background is why. This could’ve been a nice gift book for the holidays for one or the other groups I mentioned above but I can’t really recommend it. I’m still glad I got the chance to read it and value having a collection of Ruth’s own words by category (so perhaps as a reference type piece) but it could’ve been so much than what it ended up being.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Jeffrey Rosen had a chance encounter with Ruth Bader Ginsburg when they were both working on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That encounter turned into a genuine friendship and over the years Rosen and Ginsburg discussed all kinds of personal and professional issues. This book is a collection of their conversations divided into topics like "Her Landmark Cases" and "Marriage Between Equals." The book is unique in that these conversations are between friends and Jeffrey Rosen had a chance encounter with Ruth Bader Ginsburg when they were both working on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That encounter turned into a genuine friendship and over the years Rosen and Ginsburg discussed all kinds of personal and professional issues. This book is a collection of their conversations divided into topics like "Her Landmark Cases" and "Marriage Between Equals." The book is unique in that these conversations are between friends and colleagues, not just an interview with a semi-stranger. Each chapter has a few pages of Rosen writing about the topic of that chapter, the the second half of the chapter is an interview style between Rosen and Ginsburg. It's a pretty quick read, but it does give you a lot of insight into not only Ginsburg, but the Supreme Court and it's inner workings. It was really a very interesting book and I would highly recommend it. Some quotes I liked: [In an interview for The Docket Sheet, a newsletter for Court employees] "...asked her why she had agreed to a flexible schedule for one of her law clerks, David Post. Ginsburg replied that when Post applied for a clerkship, he was caring for his two small children during the day, so that his wife could sustain a demanding job as an economist. 'I thought, 'This is my dream of the way the world should be,' ' Ginsburg enthused. 'When fathers take equal responsibility for the care of their children, that's when women will be truly liberated.'" (p. 13) "As co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union's Women's Rights Project, Ruth Bader Ginsburg sought from 1972 to 1980 to persuade the Supreme Court that legislation apparently designed to benefit or protect women could often have the opposite effect. For this reason, she chose to represent a series of male plaintiffs who had been denied legal benefits designed for women. This visionary strategy forced the Court to articulate a standard of scrutiny for gender discrimination that could be applied neutrally to either sex...She represented plaintiffs with whom the male judges of the 1970s were most likely to identify." (p. 19-20) "It was not so long ago that most of the social clubs in New York and Washington, DC, were men only. So whenever I was asked to speak at those clubs, I said, 'I'm not going to speak at a place that wouldn't welcome me as a member.'...My first encounter with men-only social clubs happened when my husband was working for a law firm in New York. The firm had a holiday party at a club that did not admit women. The women associates let it be known that that was improper. They weren't listened to. So the next year, none of the women associates showed up at the holiday party. The year after that, the holiday party was held at a place that welcomed women as well as men." (p. 128) "We have in DC the first person to be given flexible time at a law firm. It was at Arnold and Porter, and the woman is Brooksley Born. When her second child was born, she elected to have a three-day schedule. She was told, 'That's okay, but you'll never make partner.' It turned out that she produced more in three days than the average associate produced in a full week, so she became the first full-time [female] partner...[what feminism still needs to work on] The two big areas are unconscious bias and what is called work-life balance. If we could fix those two, we would see women all over doing everything. Unconscious bias and facilitating a work life and a family life." (p. 207-8)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    I consider Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be an icon, and a wonderful example for anyone (male or female) to pattern themselves after. In this book Jeffrey Rosen (law professor, author, legal journalist, and CEO of the National Constitution Center) shares a lifetime of conversations with Justice Ginsburg that cover … well, they cover the whole gamut of life! As the cover states, she literally talks about life, love, liberty, and law. I have lived through much of the time that she is discussing, I consider Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be an icon, and a wonderful example for anyone (male or female) to pattern themselves after. In this book Jeffrey Rosen (law professor, author, legal journalist, and CEO of the National Constitution Center) shares a lifetime of conversations with Justice Ginsburg that cover … well, they cover the whole gamut of life! As the cover states, she literally talks about life, love, liberty, and law. I have lived through much of the time that she is discussing, so it is very real to me – the names, the people, the places, the topics. Considering that on a daily basis we are being bombarded with happenings on very high levels that we would have never believed would occur, it is very grounding to read this book and be able to find a sense of balance. I came to understand why Rosen refers to Justice Ginsburg as a “minimalist”, and why that is a good thing. I loved being able to view her as a complex individual, with a great sense of humor (and a love for opera!), as well as being the exact person that we need at this time on the Supreme Court. My thanks go out to her for continuing to serve her country, when she could have retired a long time ago. It is interesting to try and understand her viewpoint on Roe v. Wade, and on the #MeToo movement. My personal views have been fine-tuned after reading her thoughts. You have to love the “Notorious RBG”! It is also interesting to see what she sees for the future as far as it relates to the justice system. It is a privilege to see the behind the scenes action on the court’s decisions. Rosen writes in a very straightforward manner, and with great clarity. The reader feels that they are in the room with RBG, sharing coffee and conversation. This is a book that I will certainly reread – many times!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cozy Cat Reviews

    Thank you with gratitude to the publisher, the author and to Net Galley for this extraordinary opportunity to review this exemplary body of work. My review opinion is my own. I highly recommend this book for your reading enjoyment of one of America's most brilliant legal minds. I appreciate that the author has known RBG for several years and that this was a mutual agreed upon project by both of them. The author has complied a series of conversations with her that vary from Patriotism, to the Thank you with gratitude to the publisher, the author and to Net Galley for this extraordinary opportunity to review this exemplary body of work. My review opinion is my own. I highly recommend this book for your reading enjoyment of one of America's most brilliant legal minds. I appreciate that the author has known RBG for several years and that this was a mutual agreed upon project by both of them. The author has complied a series of conversations with her that vary from Patriotism, to the tenants of upholding Constitutional law, to her love of county and her remarkable career on the Supreme Court. She speaks candidly of her rise in popularity, of women's rights and of the climate of today's government. She speaks of our Constitution and how the Supreme Court rules by following precedents. This is a insightful look into the mind of RBG and how brilliant she is. I truly loved reading this book and learning about RBG who I admire so much. She is truly an American treasure and we are grateful to her for her service on the Supreme Court. This is the most "Definitive" book that I have read on RBG as these are her own words. Very well done to the author.

  24. 4 out of 5

    MaryJane Rings

    Excellent book. Conversations with Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in her own words, detailing some of the more interesting and landmark decisions of the US Supreme Court. She explains in detail her dissents in some of these cases, her work for equality ad fairness under the law for both men and women. Also referring back to previous workings of constitutional law that influence the decisions of the court today. She explains why the constitution is still just as relevant today as it was when the Excellent book. Conversations with Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in her own words, detailing some of the more interesting and landmark decisions of the US Supreme Court. She explains in detail her dissents in some of these cases, her work for equality ad fairness under the law for both men and women. Also referring back to previous workings of constitutional law that influence the decisions of the court today. She explains why the constitution is still just as relevant today as it was when the founding fathers wrote it. Her wit, her interests in opera and classical music shows the personal side of this very accomplished lady who sits on the US Supreme Court.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Joy

    This book was so INTERESTING! The book is a series of conversations that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had with the author, Jeffrey Rosen, a famous law scholar and a friend of hers. I learned a lot about her history and her thought process on her decisions. Some interesting things it covers: her relationship with her husband (which was swoon worthy), the fact that feminists were not enthused about her appointment to the court, and some of the cases she is most proud of and some of the cases she feels This book was so INTERESTING! The book is a series of conversations that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had with the author, Jeffrey Rosen, a famous law scholar and a friend of hers. I learned a lot about her history and her thought process on her decisions. Some interesting things it covers: her relationship with her husband (which was swoon worthy), the fact that feminists were not enthused about her appointment to the court, and some of the cases she is most proud of and some of the cases she feels the court failed the most and why. This is intriguing and reads quick, it's like an extended magazine interview (I mean this complementary).

  26. 5 out of 5

    JDK1962

    Loved this. A fascinating look at the Supreme Court, and especially on how equality-based legislation has advanced over the past 50 years or so (the alignment between Thurgood Marshall's work on race and Ginsberg's work on gender was really interesting). It made me hopeful for the future to see her having some nice things to say about Justice Kavanuagh...and I found it a bit amusing that Justice Thomas never came up in any discussion, despite being on the Supreme Court with her during her entire Loved this. A fascinating look at the Supreme Court, and especially on how equality-based legislation has advanced over the past 50 years or so (the alignment between Thurgood Marshall's work on race and Ginsberg's work on gender was really interesting). It made me hopeful for the future to see her having some nice things to say about Justice Kavanuagh...and I found it a bit amusing that Justice Thomas never came up in any discussion, despite being on the Supreme Court with her during her entire tenure. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in constitutional law, and the role of the judicial branch in society.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alicja

    This book is great! It covers 20 years of conversations between the author and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, discussing the opera, her husband, her favorite dissents, her work ethic, Roe v Wade, and the future of the country, as well as her relationships with the other judges. She discusses how when she was in law school, there were not a lot of women there and what it is to be the only woman on the bench. What a lovely book. I felt like I really got to know RBG as a person as well as her ideals. Highly This book is great! It covers 20 years of conversations between the author and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, discussing the opera, her husband, her favorite dissents, her work ethic, Roe v Wade, and the future of the country, as well as her relationships with the other judges. She discusses how when she was in law school, there were not a lot of women there and what it is to be the only woman on the bench. What a lovely book. I felt like I really got to know RBG as a person as well as her ideals. Highly recommend. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cristine Cris

    I really enjoyed this book. I learned even more about RBG. I like how the author, Jeffrey Rosen, set up each topic. He gave background information, then he asked his question(s) and then RBG replied. The fact that Rosen and RBG had a friendship for over 20 years, sharing in opera and other common interests, helps them relax. It’s also a negative, if you are interviewing a friend, or even an acquaintance, you are not going to speak ill of someone. So I don’t know how honest his opinions are. I I really enjoyed this book. I learned even more about RBG. I like how the author, Jeffrey Rosen, set up each topic. He gave background information, then he asked his question(s) and then RBG replied. The fact that Rosen and RBG had a friendship for over 20 years, sharing in opera and other common interests, helps them relax. It’s also a negative, if you are interviewing a friend, or even an acquaintance, you are not going to speak ill of someone. So I don’t know how honest his opinions are. I still feel it’s a book to be read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Trent

    I enjoyed this book but it was difficult for me to read at times because there is a lot of legal jargon, talk about how Congress works in relation to the Supreme Court, the inner workings of the Supreme Court, and also refers to previous cases and decisions that I wasn't terribly familiar with, so it was difficult to follow what was going on. However, despite that, learning about RBG and seeing her personality was very interesting. She is certainly an icon and has forged a name for herself in I enjoyed this book but it was difficult for me to read at times because there is a lot of legal jargon, talk about how Congress works in relation to the Supreme Court, the inner workings of the Supreme Court, and also refers to previous cases and decisions that I wasn't terribly familiar with, so it was difficult to follow what was going on. However, despite that, learning about RBG and seeing her personality was very interesting. She is certainly an icon and has forged a name for herself in American law and history.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I love RBG, and enjoy reading her words and her stories, but this collection fell flat for me. The primary issue for me is that the chapters included too much redundant commentary, rather than helpful information or interesting stories. I think had the book been limited to the actual conversations, I would have enjoyed it more. That said, Justice Ginsburg is always a pleasure to "listen" to, and I'm glad I had a chance to read this collection of conversations.

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