Local man authors first book

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY - Local author and free-lance writer Andy Heintz with his first book, “Dissidents of the International Left,” which was recently published.

Local author and freelance writer Andy Heintz recently conducted 100 interviews of dissident activists, journalists and leftists over the phone, Skype and email to finish his book: “Dissidents of the International Left.”

His publisher later cut the 100 to 77.

Heintz said he wanted to see an “in-group dialogue among people on the left.” A lot of interviewees did not agree with each other and he said he “did not want to have an echo chamber.” He also wanted to cover a wide range of subjects ranging from the environment to feminism to social justice.

The author said interviewees addressing the environment, for example, did not limit their remarks to global warming. Conversely, they discussed over-fishing, clean water scarcity and soil erosion.

“Too much of the news and too much of social media is boiled down to five-second sound bites,” he said. “I wanted to drill down into issues, some of which have been lost to generalizations without being fully explained.”

His subjects occupy a world stage. Heintz interviewed activists from Africa, Korea, South America, Afghanistan, Russia, South Sudan and more.

Heintz said several of them were constantly on the run and looking over their shoulder after being threatened by gangs, governments and tribes.

It is a “who’s who of left-wing activism and thinking, with interviews with Kwame Anthony Appiah, Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, Anabel Hernandez, Malalai Joya, George Monbiot and Meredith Tax.”

“I wanted a mix of Western voices with those from other continents,” Heintz said.

Some were interviewed at 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., or other extreme hours, to get the job done. Several of his favorite interviews were with journalists or other activists who have been threatened by governments, drug cartels, tribal leaders and more.

In some cases, interviewee and Mexican journalist Anabel Hernandez has been threatened by drug cartels and the government. He worked to get interviews with activist and others familiar with North Korean, specifically, North Korean specialist Jieun Baek.

“Contributors like Sokeel Park, Baek and Lee Sang Yong really did an amazing job highlighting the agency, courage, humanity and heterogeneity of the North Korean dissident and defector community,” Heintz told Muftah magazine.

“The courage of North Korean defectors and dissidents should never be disappeared by non-stop coverage of talks between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un,” Heintz said.

Additionally, friends helped with translating Spanish and Korean to English. Nadezhda Azhigikihna of the Russian Union of Journalists represented that diverse country.

Readers who like “Dissidents of the International Left” will be pleased to know Heintz if far from done exploring the subject. He is going to take a break for awhile, and did not rule out another book of the same genre in the future. Publisher New Internationalist is an independent, non-profit, publishing co-operative, based in Oxford, United Kingdom.

About the author

Heintz, 34, is a native of Prairie Village, Kan. His work has been published in media outlets in the U.S., Europe, India and the Middle East, including Foreign Policy in Focus, the New Internationalist, Muftah, The Wire, Common Dreams, Secularism is a Women’s Issue, Balkan Witness, Culture Project, Europe-Solidaire, Tikkun and CounterVortex. Heintz specializes in writing about foreign policy issues, social movements, universal rights and international solidarity. He has written opinion columns that have appeared in a number of Midwestern newspapers and magazines.

Heintz earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism/mass communication from Kansas State University. He was recently awarded a master’s degree in addiction counseling from Ottawa University.

He is employed by Lutheran Services in Iowa offering direct support to clients with physical and intellectual disabilities.

He resides in Marshalltown with his wife Sara Jordan-Heintz, an author and journalist with the Times-Republican.