After Jeri Laber earned a Master's degree in Russian studies at Columbia University, she became a part-time writer and editor and a full-time wife and mother. Then one day in 1973 she read an article about torture that altered her life and subsequently the lives of countless others around the world. The Courage of Strangers tells how Laber became a founder and the executive director of Helsinki Watch, which grew to be Human Rights Watch, one of the world's most influential organizations. She describes her secret trips to unwelcoming countries, where she met with some of the great political activists of the time. She also recalls what it was like to come of age professionally in an era when women were supposed to follow rather than lead how she struggled to balance work and family and how her fight for human rights informed her own intellectual, spiritual and emotional development. This story of the birth of the human rights movement is also a sweeping history of dissent and triumph in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Elegantly written, full of passion, humour and political wisdom, it is exciting history as well as a moving, entertaining, inspiring story of a woman's life.
Jeri Laber's articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the co-author of A Nation is Dying: Afghanistan Under the Soviets. In recognition of her human rights work, she was awarded the Order of Merit by President Vaclav Havel on behalf of the Czech Republic. She is also the recipient of a Research and Writing Grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.