RUTH BADER GINSBURG by Jane Sherron De Hart
Kirkus Star


A Life
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The first comprehensive biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (b. 1933), Supreme Court justice and cultural icon.

Ginsburg grew up in a Jewish community in Brooklyn; early in her career, she repeatedly suffered discrimination both as a woman and as a Jew. Nevertheless, she attended Cornell University and then law school at Harvard and Columbia (after she transferred), joined law school faculties, and was appointed to the federal bench at a time when those achievements were rare for women. Political historian De Hart (co-author: Sex, Gender, and the Politics of ERA: A State and the Nation, 1990, etc.) describes in absorbing detail the behind-the-scenes campaign to obtain her appointment to the Supreme Court engineered by her devoted husband, Martin Ginsburg, a renowned tax attorney, gourmet chef, and her biggest cheerleader. Since her arrival in 1993, the court has shifted steadily rightward, leaving her a lionized but increasingly isolated voice of principled dissent. Ginsburg's influence on American law can hardly be exaggerated, particularly in areas regarding minority and women's rights. The author clearly explains how, as an ACLU lawyer, Ginsburg plotted a successful incremental strategy to attack legal discrimination against women, which at the time was pervasive and took remarkably egregious forms. Once Ginsburg reaches the Supreme Court, De Hart excels in explaining the majority opinions, and later the dissents, in which she participated with remarkable clarity, illuminating the issues, the competing positions, and the significance of each in language easily grasped by readers with no legal training (for a nonlawyer, De Hart has a remarkable grasp of court jurisprudence). While the author's primary focus is Ginsburg's professional achievements, she also covers such topics as her battles with cancer, her love of opera, and her unlikely friendship with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia—though, as a notorious workaholic, it often appears she had little noteworthy personal life apart from the law.

A monumental biography of one of the most influential and revered Supreme Court justices of the last century.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-4000-4048-3
Page count: 768pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2018


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