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Publisher's Summary

The author of the celebrated Victory tells the fascinating story of the intertwined lives of Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first and second women to serve as Supreme Court justices.

The relationship between Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jew, Western rancher's daughter and Brooklyn girl - transcends party, religion, region, and culture. Strengthened by each other's presence, these groundbreaking judges, the first and second women to serve on the highest court in the land, have transformed the Constitution and America itself, making it a more equal place for all women.

Linda Hirshman's dual biography includes revealing stories of how these trailblazers fought for their own recognition in a male-dominated profession - battles that would ultimately benefit every American woman. She also makes clear how these two justices have shaped the legal framework of modern feminism, including employment discrimination, abortion, affirmative action, sexual harassment, and many other issues crucial to women's lives.

Sisters in Law combines legal detail with warm personal anecdotes that bring these very different women into focus as never before. Meticulously researched and compellingly told, it is an authoritative account of our changing law and culture and a moving story of a remarkable friendship.

©2015 Linda Hirshman (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 09-08-15

Insightful and thought-provoking

This is a new book out that was a perfect fit for my reading project of the Supreme Court. The author Linda Hirshman received her law degree and Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Chicago. She practiced law and appeared before the Supreme Court then became a law professor at Brandeis University. In 2002 she retired and now has become a well known author.

I have read biographies about both O’Connor and Ginsburg, but this book excels in portraying the enormous obstacles both women encountered by women attempting to enter the legal field. O’Connor and Ginsburg both attended top-tier law schools and graduated at the top of their respective classes. Nonetheless, both struggled to obtain their first professional jobs.

They were very different people, O’Connor the politician and Ginsburg the tactician and legal scholar, but they respected each other and frequently worked together on cases before the Court. Hirshman examines not just their role in reframing the culture of the Supreme Court and the tenor of some aspects of the law, but also their work on specific issues such as affirmative action and sex discrimination. The summary at the end was very depressing to me. To listen to a step by step list of the rights women have fought for being taken away, along with the rights regarding racial discrimination and voting. I guess I have lived long enough to go full circle and ended up where I started. It makes me depressed and angry. I have talked with some young women and they have no idea what we went through, so they now have the opportunity to enter most any professions they wish. They can now rent a car and have a credit card in their name; I could not when I was their age, only men had that right. Sexual and racial discrimination including harassment are on the increase lately as is anti-Semitism. I sure hope that people wake up and stop the eroding of the hard fought gains toward equality, but it sure looks discouraging. It may come about that these young women I talked with will need to fight for their rights all over again.

The book is superbly written and researched and is packed with information in an easy to read fashion. The book is written for both the layman and the scholar to enjoy. Andrea Gallo did a good job narrating the book.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Engaging look at the 1st two WOTSC

Being a man who came of age in the 1960s, I have often wondered why social change, especially those things that seem like no-brainers such as equality among races and the sexes have taken so long. Well, some of those answers can be found in this book.

Democracies and republics such as ours -- any self-correcting form of governance really -- just take time for big things to get accomplished. Churchill once said, "America can always be counted upon to do the right thing. After first exhausting all other possibilities." He said that in relation to WWII, but it is true in nearly everything we do. Especially in those two biggest challenges already mentioned: race and gender.

Being a passionate centrist and committed feminist, I found the portraits of the SC Justices Sandra Day O'Conner and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be both compelling and understandable. I would have given this five stars in all categories other than the fact that Ms Hirshman's writing style is derived from years of being a terrific lawyer. Therefore all of the facts are laid out in a logical, sequential order in a way that is comprehensible and persuasive, but lacks the punch of a really great storyteller. But that is really splitting hairs. If you want to understand how social change occurs within and via an institution like the Supreme Court this is a must read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A rehash of the Cameron & Knizhnik book.

Any additional comments?

I had read Cameron & Knizhnik's The Notorious RBG just before this and felt it was a much more thorough and interesting telling of Ginsburg's major contributions to this important aspect of our collective, recent history. Sisters In Law, however, does fill in how Sandra Day O'Connor fits into the Court's history as the first woman on the court.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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More than biography of two women

An outstanding book that more than follows the love of these two women. It explains how one person can make a difference if they stand by their convictions and make their voice heard. It also talks to the power of relationships.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A beautiful perspective on two landmark women

This is an incredibly well written account of two very similar yet different women in a unique shared position. The author shows a detailed and approachable account of how the justices got to where they are individually and collectively. Detailed enough for a legal mind and yet approachable enough for all. Very good read!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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New perspective to existing conversation

Any additional comments?

This book is a good addition to an existing conversation about the two justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It brings a new analysis to the backgrounds and effect on women of each. However, if you are new to the conversation yourself - as I was - you may want to start elsewhere. The organization is jumpy and the references often incomplete, as if you are supposed to have the necessary background information already.

Sentence structure is sometimes difficult to follow, but I am unsure if that is due to the writing or the narration.

It was an interesting read but not as much of a joy as it could have been.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Essential read

If you want to understand the issues of civil rights and the women's movement, this is an essential read. Having lived through this period of history, I have experienced and been affected by discrimination against women. This book helped me to understand both my own life history and the women's movement as a social force. The importance of these two women and the roles they played in the civil rights movements is clearly demonstrated. Anyone interested in how the Supreme Court can shape life in America must read this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • MK
  • 11-26-16

History, law, and biography all in one

What did you love best about Sisters in Law?

Very well written and performed - I learned a lot from this book both about the lives of the first women on the Supreme Court, and about the legal cases that began to grant women equal rights to women during their lifetimes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Changes

I loved being reminded of how much women's role have changed. I could be a teacher. My daughter is a doctor

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very dry

Long, dry and intense reading. I admire both women, but this book wasn't very good