Praise & Reviews

“Fresh, surprising and exceedingly well-researched…Beckerman wants to ensure that the story of this epic struggle isn’t forgotten, and I hope that, with this excellent book, he succeeds.”

Anne ApplebaumThe Washington Post


“Beckerman’s riveting and important book shows that it took the grass-roots efforts of Jews around the world, as well as the power of the American government, to bring this story to a happy ending. If the movement to ‘save Soviet Jewry’ is not well remembered, Beckerman writes, it is because ‘it is a victim of its own success.’ Now that he has told the story so well, however, it will surely take its rightful place as one of the greatest dramas in modern Jewish history.”

—Adam Kirsch, Tablet


“Wide-ranging and often moving.”

The New Yorker


Superb and likely definitive”

—Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic


“Absorbing and inspiring . . . An outstanding chronicle of a great effort conducted by determined and courageous men and women.”

Booklist (starred review)


“A brief review can scarcely compass the breadth and richness of Beckerman’s narrative or do justice to the unimaginable physical and moral courage and the resourcefulness of the dissidents and refuseniks crowding his pages. His honest recounting of their human failings and rivalries makes their achievement all the more remarkable. Beckerman also reminds us of the extent to which contemporary American Jewry was shaped by this history. Struggles create leaders and the Soviet Jewry movement was no exception. His book constitutes a veritable who’s who of American Jewish leaders, who early in their professional lives came of age, in one way or another, in the movement.”

—Yehuda Mirsky, Jewish Review of Books


“Enthralling . . . A must read.”

Russian Life


“Masterful and highly readable history.”

The Forward


“Comprehensive and readable . . .it’s Beckerman’s intimate portrait of the U.S. and Soviet outsiders that makes us care about their struggle.”



“Colorfully fleshes out personal stories within the headlines . . . A comprehensive, contextually rich study.”

Kirkus Reviews


When They Come for Us will be a standard text about the Soviet-Jewry movement for scholars, students, and general readers alike.”

The Jewish Week


“Remarkable… The author is gifted at weaving this very human and very political tale together.”

—Cleveland Plain-Dealer


“Gal Beckerman has written the definitive account of what might be the most successful human rights campaign of our time. This is a wonderful book: The narrative is thrilling and propulsive; the writing is beautiful; and the research absolutely authoritative. The movement to free Soviet Jewry will be studied for years to come as a model of non-violent civil disobedience, and Gal Beckerman’s book will be read years from now as the masterwork on the subject”

—Jeffrey Goldberg, National Correspondent, The Atlantic, and author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.


“Gal Beckerman’s book shines a long-needed spotlight on one of the great human rights struggles of the past century. It is dramatic, revelatory and deeply inspiring.”

—Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars


“A beautifully written book with both depth and cinematic qualities. Anyone not aware of this incredible moment in history will come away with understanding and appreciation for Gal Beckerman’s efforts.”

—Gary Shteyngart, author of Russian Debutante’s Handbook and Absurdistan


“At last, the Soviet Jewry movement has found its chronicler. To read this book is to relive the heroism and the heartache, the desperation and the jubilation that marked the long struggle to free Soviet Jews. This is a moving, reliable and memorable narrative of one of the greatest human rights dramas of our time.”

—Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University and author of American Judaism: A History


“Among the great liberation strivings of the twentieth century – civil rights in America, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the independence of India and other former colonies, the Jewish national independence movement and its fulfillment in the sovereign state of Israel – one of the most painfully achieved was the exodus of Jews from Soviet oppression. Gal Beckerman recounts the historic trajectory of this grand assertion of human rights with passionate clarity and pellucid conviction. His tireless persistence in pursuit of a stirring heroic chronicle is itself a form of heroism.”

—Cynthia Ozick

“A fascinating, deeply researched, and revealing account of the brave Jews in the Soviet Union and of those in the West who worked tirelessly on their behalf.”

Rt. Hon. Sir Martin Gilbert, author of Churchill: A Life

“Gal Beckerman has written the ‘Parting the Waters’ of the Jewish experience. In this stirring epic — intellectually brilliant, historically authoritative and emotionally heartfelt in equal measure — he has chronicled one of the great liberation struggles of modern times. And he has placed himself to the apex of his generation of non-fiction writers. Some authors spend an entire career trying to write their masterpiece. Gal Beckerman, to breathtaking effect, has done so in his very first book.”

Samuel G. FreedmanNew York Times columnist and author of Jew vs. Jew