• Essay

    How Hawai‘i Taught the World to Love Raw Seafood

    Whether Served with a Beer in Honolulu, or Goji Berries in Dusseldorf, Poke is One of the Islands' Global Exports

    By Martha Cheng

    Where did all this poke come from?
        You may have asked yourself that as poke—the chopped raw ...

  • Essay

    The Puerto Rican Trees That Can Stand Up to Hurricanes

    In El Yunque, the Tropical Rainforest Has Evolved to Shed Its Limbs to the Wind—But Stay Upright

    By Stephen Long

    El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is one of the jewels of the United States system of national forests—and its only tropical rainforest. When ...

New at Zócalo


The Cold War Government-Funded Publishing House that Took American Literature to the World

Though Driven by a Desire to Assert U.S. Values, Franklin Publications Was Viewed as Pushing Imperialist Propaganda

By Amanda Laugesen

    In 1952, a group representing the most important trade, university, and educational publishers in the United States met in New York City to incorporate Franklin Publications.
    Some of the men (and they were all men) had been active in the Council of Books in Wartime during the World War II. Then, they had helped to produce the Armed Service Editions that took popular books to the fighting troops, and the Overseas Editions that had taken American books in translation into liberated Europe.
    At this meeting, with the Cold War setting in, publishers once again decided to support the U.S. government. The new Franklin Publications would “win hearts and minds” across the globe.
    As in World War II, publishers initially thought this could help ...

Connecting California

Could California's Population Actually Shrink?

As the Golden State Hits 40 Million This Summer, Trends Point to a Less Populous—and Challenging—Future

By Joe Mathews

    This should be the summer when the population of California finally surpasses 40 million.
    We should celebrate by reflecting on just how small we are.
    Of course, we won’t. California, like an insecure male lover, is always bragging about how big it is. And so reaching the 40 million threshold—there is no red-letter date, though, by state figures, it’s likely to happen in late summer—will occasion another round of boasting about our size, not merely in population but in economic output and cultural impact. And this moment is likely to produce new predictions—offered either with pride or fear—about how soon we’ll get to 50 million or even 100 million people.
    Such projections of massive growth may be fun, but they will likely prove to be exaggerated. To the contrary, this is the moment to consider ...

Connecting California Joe Mathews

  • What's So Wrong About Californians Colluding With This Russian?

    A River Reveals the Historical, Mystical Ties That Bind Our State to the Land of Putin and Tolstoy

        Take my guilty plea, Mr. Mueller. Because this Californian has been colluding with the Russians.
        To be sure, I didn’t subvert any elections. But one recent week this spring, when my colleagues were out of the office, I snuck away to visit ...

  • Let's Split up California Into Separate States of Mind

    Every Resident Should Get to Choose Their Personal Territory. Anyone for TaylorSwiftopia?

        All the many dozens of proposals to split California into multiple states share the same basic defect: a foolish fixation with geography.
        The new “Cal 3” ballot initiative, which would create three states, has roots in pre-Civil War days, when the proposal was to split us into a ...

  • Video Highlights

    Looking Back at Four Years of “What It Means to Be American”

    The Smithsonian/ASU/Zócalo Project on U.S. History and Identity Is Just Getting Started

    Since its launch on April 14, 2014, the "What It Means to Be American" project has convened 12 events in seven cities and published more than 300 essays on American history and identity. And we're just getting started. Here's a look back at where we've been, and where we're going.