Thomas Goltz is the author of the so-called (and unplanned) Caucasus Trilogy, which includes Chechnya Diary, an intimate portrait of a small town devastated during the first Chechen-Russian war of 1994-96. He now teaches at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

Lost in the tributes to the Hollywood icon—her beauty, her acting, her AIDS activism—is her work to help Chechen orphans. Thomas Goltz on the extraordinary turn of events that focused her on the war-torn Russian republic.