Why We Need to Name the Dead

Descendants and Surviving Family Insist That Ordinary People Had Lives Worth Noting

Almost 3,000 migrants have drowned this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Europe. Many of their bodies have washed ashore without names. These are bodies of people whose loved ones will never know their fates; they are bodies bereft of the most fundamental attribute of cultural belonging.

A very few have been identified. Italian doctors managed to match a photograph of a young, smiling Eritrean woman dressed in colorful clothes with the teeth of an anonymous corpse, its face frozen in the grin of rigor mortis. …

More In: 9/11

Lessons From a Fishmonger While the Twin Towers Fell

On Sept. 11, 2001, I Was Driving around L.A., Collecting Dirty Mops, and Contemplating the Nature of Ignorance

The story goes, my grandpa was sitting on his recliner watching TV when the news broke. JFK had been shot and killed. My mother was seven years old. She’d been …

L.A.’s Shifting Skyline Will Be More Spiraling, Imaginative—and Safer

Updated Building Codes Mean Boxy Helipads Will No Longer Cap the City’s Skyscrapers

For 40 years, Los Angeles’ building code has required all buildings 75 feet and taller to have a rooftop emergency helicopter landing facility in a location approved by the fire …

The Triumph of 9/10

The Day that was to Change Everything Didn't

September 11th was the only day I was ever invited to breakfast at Windows on the World, atop New York City’s World Trade Center. I had no intention of going, …

Death by Seal

My Brother’s Killer’s Awesome Demise

“We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”   – George Orwell

‘Twas a scene serene …

How Crimes of War Became Not Okay


When planes struck the Twin Towers in 2001, John Fabian Witt–author, historian, and Yale Law School Professor–found his thoughts turning to history and the laws of war.

“All of the policies …