Get the key ideas from

Notorious RBG

The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
16-minute read
Audio available
Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

Notorious RBG (2015) chronicles the life story of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. From her childhood in Brooklyn – when she was known by her nickname, Kiki – to capturing the public imagination with her scathing dissents on the bench, these blinks portray one woman’s relentless fight to give American women and men equal rights under the country’s legislation.

New York Times Bestseller

  • Millennials interested in the life of America’s most unassuming pop icon
  • Students of US history, law, and politics
  • Social activists and feminists looking for inspiration

Irin Carmon is an Israeli-American journalist and commentator. She is a CNN contributor, a senior correspondent at New York Magazine, and was previously a national reporter at MSNBC.

Shana Knizhnik is an American lawyer and author from Philadelphia. In 2013, she created the viral Notorious R.B.G. Tumblr, where she chronicled memes and articles about Justice Ginsberg.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

Notorious RBG

The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
  • Read in 16 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 10 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
Synopsis

Notorious RBG (2015) chronicles the life story of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. From her childhood in Brooklyn – when she was known by her nickname, Kiki – to capturing the public imagination with her scathing dissents on the bench, these blinks portray one woman’s relentless fight to give American women and men equal rights under the country’s legislation.

New York Times Bestseller

Key idea 1 of 10

Born in Brooklyn, RBG had a normal childhood but experienced tragedy in her family.

Known during her childhood by her nickname Kiki, Joan Ruth Bader was born in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood on March 15, 1933 – a time when prejudiced treatment of Jews was common, even among ethnic minorities who’d also recently arrived in the United States. Still, RBG remembers her childhood fondly.

RBG’s mother, Celia Amster Bader, was a first-generation American and one of seven children whose parents had fled the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Though Celia had graduated with top grades from high school, she didn’t go on to college. Instead, she was expected to be a loving wife, and her income as a bookkeeper was partially divested to fund her brother’s college tuition at Cornell. When it came to her own daughter, she instilled a love for learning and hoped that Kiki, at least, would attend university one day.

As a young woman, the popular but quiet Kiki spent ample time at the library and was especially fond of Nancy Drew mystery novels. She admired Nancy as an independent woman with a knack for adventure and a dominant role in her romantic relationship. Kiki also attended Camp Che-Na-Wah in the Adirondacks in the summer, and played the cello. It was a fairly normal childhood – so normal that no one at the time predicted the success she would go on to achieve.

But things weren’t always easy for Kiki. When she was two years old, her sister Marylyn died from meningitis, and her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer when she was 13. Not wanting her friends to feel sorry for her, Kiki kept these facts about her family a secret. She also knew that she could make her mother happy by focusing on her studies. The work paid off, and Kiki was accepted into Cornell with multiple scholarships to her name. But Kiki didn’t end up attending graduation. The night before the ceremony, her mother tragically passed away.

Despite her early death, Celia remained an important inspiration throughout Kiki’s life. Kiki particularly held onto two pieces of advice from her mother: The first was to be a lady – meaning that she should never let herself be overcome by pointless emotions like anger or envy. The other lesson her mother had often repeated was to be independent. As it turns out, Kiki’s mother had exercised her own independence by saving an additional US$8,000 for her daughter’s education.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.