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Dinners with Ruth

A Memoir on the Power of Friendships

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About The Book

Celebrated NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg delivers an extraordinary memoir of her personal successes, struggles, and life-affirming relationships, including her beautiful friendship of nearly fifty years with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Four years before Nina Totenberg was hired at NPR, where she cemented her legacy as a prizewinning reporter, and nearly twenty-two years before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court, Nina called Ruth. A reporter for The National Observer, Nina was curious about Ruth’s legal brief, asking the Supreme Court to do something revolutionary: declare a law that discriminated “on the basis of sex” to be unconstitutional. In a time when women were fired for becoming pregnant, often could not apply for credit cards or get a mortgage in their own names, Ruth patiently explained her argument. That call launched a remarkable, nearly fifty-year friendship.

Dinners with Ruth is an extraordinary account of two women who paved the way for future generations by tearing down professional and legal barriers. It is also an intimate memoir of the power of friendships as women began to pry open career doors and transform the workplace. At the story’s heart is one, special relationship: Ruth and Nina saw each other not only through personal joys, but also illness, loss, and widowhood. During the devastating illness and eventual death of Nina’s first husband, Ruth drew her out of grief; twelve years later, Nina would reciprocate when Ruth’s beloved husband died. They shared not only a love of opera, but also of shopping, as they instinctively understood that clothes were armor for women who wanted to be taken seriously in a workplace dominated by men. During Ruth’s last year, they shared so many small dinners that Saturdays were “reserved for Ruth” in Nina’s house.

Dinners with Ruth also weaves together compelling, personal portraits of other fascinating women and men from Nina’s life, including her cherished NPR colleagues Cokie Roberts and Linda Wertheimer; her beloved husbands; her friendships with multiple Supreme Court Justices, including Lewis Powell, William Brennan, and Antonin Scalia, and Nina’s own family—her father, the legendary violinist Roman Totenberg, and her “best friends,” her sisters. Inspiring and revelatory, Dinners with Ruth is a moving story of the joy and true meaning of friendship.

About The Author

Photograph © Allison Shelley/NPR

Nina Totenberg is NPR’s award-winning legal affairs correspondent. She appears on NPR’s critically acclaimed news magazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition, and on NPR podcasts, including the Politics Podcast and The Docket. Totenberg’s Supreme Court and legal coverage has won her every major journalism award in broadcasting. Recognized seven times by the American Bar Association for continued excellence in legal reporting, she has received more than two dozen honorary degrees. A frequent TV contributor, she writes for major newspapers, magazines, and law reviews.  

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 13, 2022)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982188108

Raves and Reviews

“The over-arching theme of this deeply satisfying, beautifully written memoir, is the incredible power of women's friendships to sustain and enrich our lives as we balance conflicting pressures and persistent barriers, in sickness and in health and despite heart-breaking loss.”— ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC News Chief Washington Correspondent and anchor 

“Even if the women at the center of the story were not trailblazing boundary-breakers, this would be an extraordinary tale of a lifelong friendship. The fact that Nina and Ruth are each legends in their own right makes this a must-read for anyone with an interest in history, politics, the law and media.” —ARI SHAPIRO, Host of NPR’s All Things Considered 

“Outsiders think of Washington as a place of poisonous rivalries, not deep friendships. Nina Totenberg knows differently. “Dinners with Ruth” is a spectacularly charming account of Totenberg’s five decade-long friendship with the celebrated justice. It is also something more—an inspiring love song to the imperative of lasting friendships and an instruction manual in how to nurture them.” —RUTH MARCUS, Deputy Editorial Page Editor and columnist, Washington Post 

“A page-turning, endearing look at two remarkable women, friends, and role models. A captivating read, I found it hard to put this book down.”— DAVID RUBENSTEIN, Co-Founder of The Carlyle Group and author of How to Lead and How to Invest

"An affectionate, revealing portrait of an important figure in American history." — Kirkus Reviews 

"Luminous... Riveting... 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." — Publishers Weekly

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