• In the Green Room

    Novelist and Memoirist Tananarive Due

    I’m So Glad I Wrote a Book With My Mother

    Tananarive Due teaches Afrofuturism and Black Horror at UCLA and in the creative writing and screenwriting MFA programs at Antioch University Los Angeles/Santa Barbara. The American Book Award winner and NAACP ...

  • Poetry

    By Rae Gouirand

    Once in autumn’s ease date palm branches
    swung over my back, sugars creamed inside their skins—
    I’d never have guessed owls would nest in ...

New at Zócalo

What It Means to Be American

The Revolutionary War Couple Who Shed Their British Loyalty—One Letter at a Time

Henry and Lucy Knox Sacrificed Family, Home, and Beliefs to Become American

By Phillip Hamilton

In late 1783, General Henry Knox, formerly a bookseller from Boston who had become a trusted military subordinate to George Washington, wrote the first draft of an address to be presented to the commander-in-chief by his officers. Their Revolution won, the Continental Army’s leaders wanted to express their heartfelt gratitude to the general, “under whose auspices,” as Knox wrote, “the Army have been led to glory and victory, and America to Freedom and Independence.” Young Knox also urged his comrades to look to America’s future. The Revolution’s success, he noted, “presents one of the most precious occasions, ever offer’d to the human race, for establishing Liberty and happiness.”
    On the eve of peace, Henry Knox clearly ...

Essay

How Moving to England Cured My 'American Verbal Inferiority Complex'

The Beauty of Rule-Based American English Is That It's More Democratic Than the Brits' Version

By Lynne Murphy

I had lived in England for three years when Eats, Shoots and Leaves struck in 2003. English writer Lynne Truss’ “zero tolerance approach to pronunciation” became a British publishing phenomenon—helped along by its fun title and its naming and shaming of proofreading sins. By that time, I’d begun learning the many ways in which U.K. punctuation norms differ from my native American, and I was working to become a punctuation “bilingual” so that I could more appropriately correct the work of my British students.
    So I was bemused when the book went on to become a publishing phenomenon in the United States—with no changes from the British edition. Not only did it refer to full stops and inverted ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews

  • Could California's Coldest Place Blaze a Path to Better Development?

    Up in the Sierra, the Town of Truckee Is Embracing Dense Urban Growth

    One of California’s hottest development projects can be found in one of its coldest towns.
        In an era of bitter neighbor-bites-neighbor fights against big developments, perhaps it’s fitting that an antidote should emerge from ...

  • L.A. Is Drowning in Its Own Water Pretensions

    Civic Leaders' Fantastical Claims of Water Self-Sufficiency May Endanger Southern California's Real Water Supplies

    This time, “Chinatown” is fooling itself.
        Los Angeles has a long history of water deceptions, a point made famously by Roman Polanski’s 1974 neo-noir film. But the massive self-sabotage of the city’s latest scheme is a real doozy. L.A.—from elected ...

  • Video Highlights

    Several years before a certain Queens real estate tycoon became president, Yascha Mounk had a sense that the United States and other liberal democracies had arrived at “a moment of acute political instability.” ...