• Nexus

    By Rebecca Onion

    Colorful AIDS education posters from the 1980s. Black-and-white photos of mid-20th-century anatomy lessons for midwives. Eighteenth-century instructions for the administration of patent medicines. While a paper archival collection in the U.S. National Library of Medicine might contain items like these—handwritten …

  • Up For Discussion

    Why Libraries’ Survival Matters

    They Offer the Kind of Space the Internet Never Will

    The internet as we know has been around for over 25 years, but we’re only beginning to grapple with how it is fundamentally changing our daily lives. More than society being “disrupted,” some cultural hallmarks—handwritten letters, record stores, newspapers—already seem …

  • Poetry

    By V. Penelope Pelizzon

    A nervous dog will snap at wind that snarls outdoors as snows descend till only walking pacifies the wolf awoken in the hound.We trudge the path we’ve memorized, our coats first nipped, then gnashed at by fangs within the sharpened …

New at Zócalo

Who We Were

By James Traub

A statue of John Quincy Adams stands outside of Spaso House, the residence of the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow. In 1809 President James Madison asked Adams, at age 42 already one of America’s most seasoned diplomats, to serve as the first American ambassador to Russia. The President needed a man with the prudence and the tenacity necessary to persuade the young Tsar Alexander to respect the interests of the United States, a neutral in the colossal battle between England and Napoleonic France. Adams would justify that faith, and earn that statue.
    This was not Adams’ first trip to a country most


By Mark Joseph Stern

Voting, James Madison once wrote, is fundamental in a constitutional republic like America. Yet “at the same time,” he noted, its “regulation” is “a task of peculiar delicacy.”
    Madison was talking about whether America should restrict voting rights to property owners—but he might as well have been debating ballot selfies.
    Ever since Americans began carrying smartphones with cameras, we’ve been posting photos of our ballots on social media. The so-called ballot selfie—which is not an actual selfie but typically a photo of a completed ballot—is now nearly as ubiquitous on voting day as those omnipresent stickers. It is how a great many Americans, millennials

Video Highlights

Trade Winds/Andrés Martinez

  • Don't Blame The Candidates—Blame Yourself

    Americans Are Finally Getting Political Contenders as Extreme as Our Rhetoric

    We may finally be getting the presidential candidates we deserve.Forget all that talk about the wisdom of voters, and the great American people. We are the problem, with our shrill, hyperbolic, extremist, intolerant, and polarized ways of engaging in politics …

  • Why ISIS Declared War on Soccer

    The Sport Keeps Winning Over Hearts and Minds Across the Muslim World, Bridging East and West

    It’s not surprising that the crazed “Soldiers of the Caliphate” terrorists selected the France-Germany soccer match at the Stade de France as the central target in their assault on Paris. For starters, the match was a high-profile attraction bringing together …