cover image Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships

Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships

Nina Totenberg. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982188-08-5

In this luminous debut, NPR legal correspondent Totenberg delivers a riveting account of her 50-year friendship with Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The daughter of Polish violin virtuoso Roman Totenberg, the author was raised in the 1940s and ’50s in a bustling home filled with music and culture. After giving Boston University a college try, Totenberg dropped out to become a journalist. Parallel to her story runs an equally enthralling look at Ginsburg’s life, from her modest childhood in the 1930s as the daughter of immigrant factory workers to studying law at Harvard. Their lives collided in 1971 when Ginsburg, arguing a sex discrimination case before the Supreme Court, received a phone call from Totenberg, who was covering the story for the National Observer. While their friendship saw plenty of historic highs, including Totenberg’s groundbreaking legal work at NPR and Ginsburg’s confirmation as a SCOTUS justice in 1993, Totenberg writes, “The irony is that while work... defined each of us... our friendship was never about work.” Indeed, it’s Totenberg’s writing about the personal hardships they overcame together—including the death of Totenberg’s first husband, Sen. Floyd Haskell, and Ginsburg’s bouts with colon, pancreatic, and lung cancer—that imbues her narrative with emotional depth, making this portrait of friendship all the more captivating. Readers are sure to be charmed. (Sept.)