Great New Autobiography to add to your list – Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury by Drew Gilpin Faust [Books]

I was introduced to historian Drew Gilpin Faust’s books in my PhD program and learned so much (about writing, women’s involvement in the Civil War, and cultural shifts) from her This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War…

…that I was excited to read her new autobiography, Necessary Trouble: Growing Up at Midcentury

As expected, I learned so much – she was born in Virginia to (sadly) racist parents but chose Northern schools to teach herself the opposite of their ways – ended up at the march in Selma and became friends with John Lewis — the book title comes from his famous phrase which she asked his permission to use.

My Mom always said you learn more from autobiographies than from fictional books. Though I still read copious amounts of both kinds, she was right in that the real-life details I’ve collected from autobiographies have stayed in my mind longer than much of my other reading.

And if you don’t know the story of how Gilpin Faust became the first female president of Harvard University – check it out:

 Drew Gilpin Faust, the First Female Harvard President, Was Nicknamed ‘Chainsaw Drew’

Essentially, previous president Lawrence H. Summers was forced out for saying that “intrinsic” gender differences accounted for the lack of women in science (in other words there weren’t a lot of women in science and math departments because ‘girls aren’t good at math’) so they appointed Faust the immediate interim pres while they looked for a new one – and after 18 months of looking it suddenly occurred to them that she’d been doing the job for… 18 months so why not make her the permanent new pres? She held the gig for 11 years and “generated what might be considered the opposite kind of controversy: She was too PC, her critics griped — during her time, the number of tenured female faculty rose by 47 percent.”

Our New Book: Women Making History: Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Nancy Hendriks – Part of new series from ABC-Clio Edited by Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier

Our New Book: Women Making History: Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Part of new series from ABC-CLIO Edited by Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier

I’m so proud to present the first book in the 8 book Women Making History series I co-edited with my good friend and colleague Peg Lamphier.

This first book, written by Nancy Hendricks, covers the life of the beloved and brilliant Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman on the Supreme Court whose life inspired the film On the Basis of Sex (produced by my good friend Karen Loop).

What makes books published by ABC-Clio so special is that they include a collection of primary documents, allowing the subject of the biography to speak for themselves.  In this case Nancy has chosen to include text from the Notorious RBG’s Congressional Hearing for her nomination alongside her dissent in the case of Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 where she eloquently argued that breaking off pieces of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because it seemed outdated was like “throwing away you umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

In Nancy’s book you will read about Ruth’s happy marriage to Martin Ginsburg (one of the most renowned tax attorneys in the country) which you have probably read about, and her year of work in Sweden with the Project on International Civic Procedure, which you probably haven’t heard of yet but which turns out to be a fascinating look at this fascinating woman. Most male lawyers had turned down the job because it meant learning Scandinavian but being RBG she mastered that lickety split.

Many thanks to Nancy for her beautifully poetic writing, to Peg for being a brilliant co-editor – and to RBG for paving the way for women for so, so long. I’ve scanned the inner front page of the book since it’s the page with my and Peg’s series editor credit.  What an honor to be asked to oversee this set – and to dwell so long in the lives of these amazing women.

Look out for the rest of the series which will include biographies on the lives of Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, Ida B. Wells, Helen Keller, Delores Huerta, Eleanor Roosevelt, Wilma Mankiller and Sally Ride.

Our New Book: Women Making History: Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Nancy Hendriks - Part of new series from ABC-Clio Edited by Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier


This book offers both a biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, only the second-ever woman appointed to the Supreme Court, and a historical analysis of her impact in her role.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life in American History explores Ginsburg’s path to holding the highest position in the judicial branch of U.S. government as a Supreme Court justice for almost three decades. Readers will learn about the choices, challenges, and triumphs that this remarkable American has lived through, and about the values that shape the United States.

Ginsburg, sometimes referred to as “The Notorious RBG” or “RBG” was a professor of law, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, an advocate for women’s rights, and more, before her tenure as Supreme Court justice. She has weighed in on decisions, such as Bush v. Gore (2000); King v. Burwell (2015); and Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), that continue to guide lawmaking and politics. Ginsburg’s crossover to stardom was unprecedented, though perhaps not surprising. Where some Americans see the Supreme Court as a decrepit institution, others see Ginsburg as an embodiment of the timeless principles on which America was founded.

Mentoris Project Podcast: Relentless Visionary: Alessandro Volta With Author, Michael Berick [Audio]

Mentoris Project Podcast: Relentless Visionary: Alessandro Volta With Author, Michael Berick

Mentoris Project Podcast: Relentless Visionary: Alessandro Volta With Author, Michael Berick [Audio]

Read Relentless Visionary: Alessandro Volta

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If asked to list important inventors, few remember to include Alessandro Volta. Yet, his is a household name more spoken than that of Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, or even Thomas Edison. That’s because the terms “volt” and “voltage” can be attributed to Volta, the inventor of the “Voltaic pile,” which is recognized as the first electric battery. A product of the Age of Enlightenment—a time when ideas about reason, science, literature and liberty took center stage—Volta employed a very modern, hands-on approach to his work. Though he had no formal education, he was the first person to identify the gas known as methane, and created the first authoritative list of conducting metals. Alessandro Volta saw things not just as they were, but as what they could be. He was a disrupter, an innovator and a visionary. Above all, he was relentless. Without Volta’s hunger to create and his drive to invent and discover, we might not have electric cars, laptops, cellphones, and hearing aids today.


About the Author

Michael Berick is a writer and journalist, whose work has appeared in outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, LA Weekly, AAA Westways Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has written about European chocolate destinations, reviewed artist Ed Ruscha’s retrospective, and penned press material for the Grammy-nominated boxset, Battleground Korea: Songs And Sounds Of America’s Forgotten War. He also might possibly be the only music critic to have voted in both the Fids and Kamily Music Awards and the Village Voice’s annual Pazz & Jop Poll. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Berick currently lives in Los Angeles with wife, playwright/screenwriter Jennifer Maisel, and their daughter and dog.

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