Notorious RBG Book Summary - Notorious RBG Book explained in key points
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Notorious RBG summary

Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

4.6 (29 ratings)
25 mins
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    Notorious RBG
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    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.

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    What is Notorious RBG about?

    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

    Who should read Notorious RBG?

    • 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

    About the Author

    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.

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