Author and Academic Adventurer
Thomas Goltz is an American author, academic and adventurer best known for his book-length accounts of conflict in the Post-Soviet Caucasus region during the 1990s and today. This body of work is summed up in his unplanned 'Caucasus Triptych' of books on post-Soviet Azerbaijan, Georgia and Chechnya.
Born in Japan in 1954, Goltz was raised in North Dakota and graduated from New York University with an MA in Middle East studies. He speaks German, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Russian and (neglected) Arabic, as well as bits and pieces of Chechen, Georgia and Kurdish. When not on the road, he now lives in Livingston, Montana and Ayvalik, Turkey where he proudly grows garlic and pomegranates.
Depending on how one counts, Goltz is the author at least a half-dozen books, ranging from the 'Unplanned Triptych' on the Post-Soviet Caucasus, a bizarre book on Shakespeare in Africa, another insane geo-political travelogue about riding Soviet-era sidecar motorcycles down the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline ('An Oil Odyssey') as well as being the editor of two travel books (Insight Guide: Turkey and Insight Guide: Istanbul), as well as being a contributing editor of chapters to several political anthologies on the Caucasus (Georgia, Azerbaijan, etc) and also his native USA. United States and is currently at work on new works ranging from a colation of international essays written over the past 30 years to a bloc of work based exclusively on the USA.
ARTICLES AND BLOGS
Goltz's work goes beyond books on the Caucasus, and spans everything from reporting on the larger Middle East (particularly Iraq and Syria) to the Balkans and Central Asia as well as decades of incisive political reporting on the ever-changing face of Turkey, his 'second home' the early 1980s.
A simple 'google' will churn up scores of articles written for everyone from Foreign Affairs to Foreign Policy to The National Interest to The Washington Quarterly, The Nation and even Soldier of Fortune (as well as The Montana Quarterly.).
FILM & VIDEOS
In addition to being an award-winning international correspondent with a slough of books under his belt, Goltz is also a film-maker of both solo, front-line war-zone material (that will leave you gasping at the insanity of having done this sort of deadly work) to 'educational' stuff about classes, 'MTV'-style music material and even odd-ball ''fun' stuff about Montana that have absolutely nothing to do with international affairs.
His cooperation with the legendary Danny Schechter ('The News-Dissector') on the so-called 'first' Russian-Chechen war for the PBS 'Rights & Wrongs' program became a finalist in the Rory Peck Awards in London in 1996. This resulted in a one-man-band, follow-up assignment for the BBC to explore the aftermath of journalistic presence in an extreme conflict zone and how 'the observer effects the observed.'
Check out both the links to his book 'Chechnya Diary,' as well as the YouTube link to the BBC program, 'Return To Samashki.' None of this is pretty.
More recently, Goltz produced On Aggregate: Champions Without A Home, an award-winning film on the Qarabag-Agdam refugee football/soccer club from Azerbaijan. It became a runner-up (one of three) at the annual SporTel contest sponsored by the Prince Albert of Monaco in 2014, and has won subsequent awards. Here is a separate 'Button' that will lead you to a unique web-site on the subject,(www.on-aggregate.com) and other links.
Other videos include everything from 'Tommy The Ranger' (about a flash wildfire in Montana just outside Goltz's backyard) to a film about a debate class on the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation ('BSEC') he created at Montana State University. (See 'Academic' for more information on this unique learning experience!) which was shown in Turkey, Greece and elsewhere as part of 'real' BSEC activities. See also 'Academic' on the home page.)
Mugham in Montana
In 2008, Goltz was invited to invite a group of traditional Azerbaijani musicians to tour Montana from Billings to Bozeman and then Missoula to perform their traditional Oriental art music for everyone from Native Americans to music critics. The result was an extraordinary tour across The Treasure State that left Cowboys and Indians gasping. Here is YouTube link:
An Oil Odyssey
Arguably, the wierdest film of the lot is a 'Music-Video' piece called 'An Oil Odyssey,' a five minute, no-narration treatment of a motorcycle trip down the so-called 'Pipeline To Nowhere' linking Caspian oil to international energy markets. Said pipeline was called the 'BTC' (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan), and we brought the first symbolic barrel of oil (and then gas) down that route--and via Soviet-era, side-car motorcycles. Nuts. But we did it.) A photo-heavy book by the same name ('An Oil Odyssey') is available via Kindle, with a photo gallery under its own 'button' on this web site.
After bouncing around the fringes of academia for some 20 years, in 2006 I was invited to return to Montana as a Visiting Scholar to beef up a newly-created program on Cerntral Asia and the Caucasus at The University of Montana. Then began a very deep, dark "Ivory Tower" style back-stabbing mess that I had been warned about, but could not believe was happening. After less than two years, and offered a very generous pay package to add my name to a book project stolen from the exact same people I most respected at UM, the worm turned. I have never felt so honorable about a decision in my life, bailing out of well-paid job as 'flunky' at UM to inheriting a moribund Middle East class/debate society called the Model Arab League (MAL) because of my years of experience with the Arab World, and at dish-washer wages.
Although I had absolutely no prior experience in any sort of debate society, the class was cool, maingly because of the number of Iraq and Afghan war veterans who really, really wanted to finally understand the hell-hole they had just beenn through. The mixture of the students' zeal and my real-world, hands-on, no-bullshit experience (I was known as 'The Dictator In The Corner') soon transformed the MSU MAL class first into state-wide champions 2008, 2009 and 2010 then regional giant in 2011 and finally led to national honors in the annual NCUSAR competetion in Washington, DC, when little 'Moo-You' (MSU) faced off against giants such as West Point, Northeastern, Northwestern and another 20 universities in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when the MSU team first represented Eritrea (and Turkey), then Bahrain and finally, in 2013, Palestine, when we took runner-up honors against all the Big Boys!
That was, of course, the year that my 'colleagues' at Montana State decided to kill the MAL class and terminate my dishwasher-wages adjunct professorial salary.
THE NEW SILK ROAD
The MAL class was so successful that it spawned a clone debate class designed to explore the highly-charged area around the Black Sea Basin, based on the aforemntioned BSEC organization in 2011. That class then morphed into an intense summer school academic adventure called The New Silk Road in 2012, and that is the name of the the student-driven book that came out of it.
A taste of this incredible class experience is available on YouTube.
Sadly, I have yet to find a means of up-loading the book itself to Kindle or any other public platform, although I shall endeavor to do just that.
As for my academic excursions, I guess they are over--but I am very glad I had them, and mainly because of that usually forgotten factor--THE STUDENTS.
The Dictator In The Corner...
My interests are broad. Accordingly, I have created this catch-all category (likely with future sub-categories!) to address my eclectic tastes, including everything from Sport to History to Literature to Music and Opera to Hunting and Human Rights and Appreciation of Good Writing on Virtually All Subjects (and in several languages) One can thus anticipate future sub-sections such as 'Kulture-Vulture,' 'Interesting Articles' and other such, such as 'Kebab.'
My most recent specific passion, however, is the on-going protest in my native North Dakota against the so-called Dakota Access Pipe Line (DAPL), which theoretically threatens the entire Missouri basin. What makes this really weird is that my interest in this oil issue is that it apparently motivated my very brave niece, April Goltz, to encamp at Standing Rock and start writing incredibly incisive blogs via her own web-site. She has been there for more than two months of tough-slog, and if I and my tough-slog career have been any sort of motivation, what a happy uncle am I. Her web-presence is: www.adventuresincreativejournalism
This should be obvious, aside from the following: Feel free to contact me, and I will endeavor to respond to everything from praise to criticism to cat-calls. But all messages will remain bertween you and me--I.E., there is no room on this site for public posting/complaining/praising.
I have had a decent run at this thing called a life in media, as (I hope) will be evident to anyone visiting these pages, particulartly the Books and Blogs.
In today's changing media environment (FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc), I have discovered that I am virtually unemployed/unemployable. Social Media (including files made by my aforementioned social-media savy Niece April!) has usurped my get-there-now! attitude and, arguably, physical ability to do just that.
Accordingly, I have created an on-line Casual Donation service to keep me on my feet (every buck is welcome!), a Subscribers' Service (that guarantees a major article a month) as well as a Pay-To-View element for the full-length version of films such as On-Aggregate.
Let us see how it works out.
I shall continue to do what I do this way or that.
Author, Academic and Adventurer Thomas Goltz in Paris, circa 2012
Goltz books in English and Other
CHANGE WITH Larry B in London!!
Drunk Ruskies circa Chechnya '95
The QA Horsemen emerge from the tunnel, with Goltz up above, 2014
MSU Team At DC MAL Nationals
Riding Through Bail, Baku with Chief O.O. Mechanic (and dear pal) Sash
Pontificator In Chief At Notra Dam..
MSU MAL students at Georgetown University, DC, circa 2010. Wow!
MSU (and other) students with the Late, Great Alex Rondeli, 2012
April Goltz at Standing Rock, NoDak before it got NoDak nasty and cold...