Cover image for The courage of strangers : coming of age with the human rights movement
The courage of strangers : coming of age with the human rights movement
Laber, Jeri.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Public Affairs, [2002]

Physical Description:
405 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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HQ1413.L33 A3 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 2

Booklist Review

When signed in 1975, the Helsinki Final Act seemed a poor bargain, because the West traded a tangible concession--formal recognition of the Soviet-imposed postwar borders--for an intangible promise by the Soviet bloc to abide by defined standards of human rights. This diplomatic undertaking differed crucially from previous ones in that adherence to the agreement would be monitored by a regular international conference. That prospect galvanized dissident movements and American supporters such as Jeri Laber, who set up "watch" committees. Seeded with Ford Foundation money and backed by influential book-publishing executives, her organization, which evolved into Human Rights Watch, assisted beleaguered dissidents with publicity and sometimes money. Laber's passion shines brightly in this memoir, as does her courage in braving the security apparatus on her many trips behind the iron curtain. On the personal side, she reflects on a Feminine Mystique^-type of life: giving up her career for family in the 1950s, and resuming it after divorce in the 1970s. Human rights activists in particular will find Laber's recollections insightful and inspiring. Gilbert Taylor

Library Journal Review

A homemaker with an academic background in Russian studies and Sovietology, Laber gradually became involved with a developing human rights movement in America during the 1970s and 1980s, going on to become the director of Helsinki Watch, an organization that monitored human rights abuses, especially in the Soviet bloc. Under her guidance, Helsinki Watch broadened its focus to the whole world, eventually merging into one composite organization called Human Rights Watch. Laber's book is first and foremost an autobiographical account of her lifelong devotion to exposing human rights abuses and preventing future abuses, interspersed with references to her personal and family life. This account details her often dangerous trips to Brezhnev's Soviet Union and Eastern European nations and chronicles the events leading to the development of Helsinki Watch and Human Rights Watch. It also contains vivid personal vignettes of Soviet dissidents and torture victims in Turkey and El Salvador. This book offers inspirational testimony to the value of a human rights organization that investigates and publicizes human rights violations with fairness and without regard to political ideology or U.S. foreign policy. For most academic and large public libraries. Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Vaclav Havel
Prefacep. ix
Prologuep. 1
Part I Rootedp. 5
Part II On My Own (1977-1981)p. 91
Part III A Movement Takes Shape (1981-1985)p. 165
Part IV New Thinking, New Tactics (1985-1988)p. 245
Part V Beyond Our Wildest Dreams (1989-1991p. 307
Epiloguep. 373
Some People in this Bookp. 381
Acknowledgmentsp. 391
Indexp. 393