Ralph Nader was born in Winsted, Connecticut to Nathra and Rose Nader, Lebanese immigrants who operated a restaurant and bakery. Nader's dream of becoming a "people's lawyer" was instilled in him in adolescence by his parents, who in noisy free-for-alls, conducted family seminars on the duties of citizenship in a democracy. Mark Green, a former Nader associate, said that "When (the Naders) sat around the table growing up, it was like the Kennedys. Except that the subject was not power but justice."
The young attorney became distressed by the indifference of American corporations to the global consequences of their actions, and he began to speak out against the abuse of corporate power. He first made headlines in 1965 with his book, Unsafe at Any Speed, which took the auto industry to task for producing unsafe vehicles. Nader became an American folk hero when executives of General Motors hired private detectives to harass him and then publicly apologized before a nationally televised Senate committee hearing.
The consumer advocate went on to create an organization of energetic young lawyers and researchers (often called "Nader's Raiders") who produced systematic exposés of industrial hazards, pollution, unsafe products, and governmental neglect of consumer safety laws. Nader is widely recognized as the founder of the consumers' rights movement. He played a key role in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Freedom of Information Act and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. He has continued to work for consumer safety and for the reform of the political system through his group Public Citizen.
After the closest presidential election in American history, many Democrats blamed Nader for their loss of the presidency. They speculated that had Nader not entered the race, they would have won enough of Nader's voters in either Florida or New Hampshire to shift the balance of electoral victory in their favor. Despite opposition from many of his previous supporters, Ralph Nader ran for president again as an independent candidate in 2004 and 2008.
In 2009, Nader published his first novel, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! a satirical political fantasy in which a cast of real-life characters, led by Warren Buffett, are moved to social activism in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. Today, Ralph Nader lives and maintains his offices in Washington, D.C.