News & Politics

Book Review: “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor

Life lessons from the Supreme Court justice.

In her new memoir, My Beloved World, Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor says she “ventured to write more intimately about my personal life than is customary for a member of the Supreme Court.”With buoyant humor and thoughtful candor, she recounts her rise from a crime-infested neighborhood in the South Bronx to the nation’s highest court. “I will be judged as a human being by what readers find here,” Sotomayor writes. We, the jury in this case, find her irresistible and submit her testimony on the following as evidence.

On “having it all”: “To say that a stay-at-home mom has betrayed her potential is no less absurd than to suggest that a woman who puts career first is somehow less a woman.”

On mentors: “[D]on’t be shy about making a teacher of any willing party who knows what he or she is doing.”

On being self-made: “. . . I would never claim to be self-made—quite the contrary: at every stage of my life, I have always felt that the support I’ve drawn from those closest to me has made the decisive difference between success and failure.”

On empathy: “I was fifteen years old when I understood how it is that things break down: people can’t imagine someone else’s point of view.”

On influencing others: “A respectful dialogue with one’s opponent almost invariably goes further than a harangue outside his or her window. If you want to change someone’s mind, you must understand what need shapes his or her opinion.”

On dogmatism: “. . . I have never accepted the argument that principle is compromised by judging each situation on its own merits, with due appreciation of the idiosyncrasy of human motivation and fallibility.”

This article appears in the January 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.



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