my own words book coverReviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

As a woman of a certain age (or even beyond) I have the greatest admiration and respect for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. From the get-go, she had the wherewithal to do more than just dream–she did!!! And didn’t she just?

Justice Ginsburg has been writing all of her life, with one of her first published pieces happening while in the eighth grade, which is included in this book, as is one of her most recent writings for the Supreme Court, the highlights of the 2015-2016 Term, which just ended about four months ago! In case you’re curious, that covers a span of some seventy years, and she’s not about to run out of words anytime soon, considering the content of that recent piece.

My Own Words is comprised of five sections: Earlier Years and Lighter Side, Tributes to Waypavers and Pathmarkers, On Gender Equality: Women and the Law, A Judge Becomes a Justice and The Justice on Judging and Justice. However, her personal life is not slighted, in any way, in favor of the legal side.

Ruth Bader and Martin Ginsburg were fortunate to have met while still teenagers: she was seventeen, he was eighteen, and they were both enrolled at Cornell University. Their love for each other was allowed to grow and flourish into a lifetime tenure, similar to that of a Supreme Court Justice in the United States, and they married a week after her graduation. They both went on to law school—at Harvard, although she became a mother to Jane before her enrollment there.

Wherever the Honorable Ruth went, she wrote, no matter the employer. This book is a brilliant compilation of some of her best writings. The clever minds behind this volume belong to noted authors  and co-writers Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams, who are, in addition, both friends and biographers of Justice Ginsburg.

Needless to say, during such a long career, RBG has produced a ton of speeches and miscellaneous writings, and she was adept at recycling them–bringing them up-to-date and applicable to various organizations. Nearly every section has a small footnote at the lower edge of the first page: “Justice Ginsburg has delivered numerous versions of these remarks to various audiences over the years. We have edited the remarks for length and to ensure clarity outside the specific context in which they were originally delivered.”

They are not repetitious, but evidence of the wide range of interests and topics that captured the imagination of Justice Ginsburg. As the second female appointed to the high court (in 1993, by then President William Jefferson Clinton) following Sandra Day O’Connor to the bench, she is pleased now to have two fellow female justices.

Two of the more enjoyable (to me) writings were her tributes to her husband Marty, who passed away four days after their 56th wedding anniversary and her ‘treasured colleague Justice Antonin Scalia’ who passed away in February, 2016. In addition to their shared duties at the Court, they also shared a huge love of and for opera. In fact, composer/librettist Derrick Wang composed a one-act, comedic opera titled “Scalia/Ginsburg: A (Gentle) Parody of Operatic Proportions.” It was premiered in Castleton, Virginia on July 11, 2015.

In addition to all the words, there are photos, acknowledgements, an index and a Notes section. However, while the list of sources for each quoted writing is included in the book, the complete citation with complete copies are housed at the book’s website: MyOwnWordsBook.com. As it is, the book is some 380 pages–and not a one of them is in any way boring!

History, especially women’s history in America, is well-served by this illuminating book. I can’t recommend it too highly! It deserves every accolade it accumulates.

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First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.