When the U.S. Government Asked American Families to Turn in Their Gold

American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle Over Gold

At $20 trillion, the national debt of the United States is slightly bigger than the annual output of the American economy. Government shutdowns and brinksmanship about extending the country’s debt ceiling have greatly raised the risk of default. So what would happen if the U.S. actually went off the fiscal cliff, and was unable to pay its debts? To answer that question, we have one historical data point: the great debt default of 1933-1935, when Franklin D. Roosevelt, Congress, and the Supreme Court agreed to wipe out more than 40 …

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The Best Zócalo Essays of 2017

From Treason to Gandhi to Empathetic Robots, Our Contributors Make Sense of a World in Flux

In 2017, Zócalo’s far-flung contributors took us inside the Swedish worldview, recounted Cervantes’ battles with literary pirates, reported on the dangers of being a journalist covering Mexico’s drug wars, and …

Ten Illuminating Books for Confusing Times

From Ghosts to Darwinism to the Spanish Flu, Zócalo's Favorite Nonfiction of 2017

If 2017 was the year the world stopped making sense to you, Zócalo’s 10 favorite nonfiction books of this new era are exactly what you need. They all, in some …

Quench Your Curiosity with Zócalo’s Summer Book List

From the Mississippi Delta to the Yale School of “Trauma,” Ten Nonfiction Books That Will Keep You Cool

Summertime was invented for catching up on great books, whether lolling on a Gulf Coast beach on July 4, sheltering under a tent in the Adirondacks, or slouched in a …

The Ghetto’s Complex and Troubled Legacy

Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea

In 2017, we often hear the word “ghetto” come up in music lyrics and casual conversation, out of the mouths of politicians and activists. We know what it means; it …

The Zócalo Dozen Soothe, Agitate, and Enlighten

12 Favorite Essays Size Up 2016 and Anticipate the Year Ahead

In 2016, writers of Zócalo essays took us inside a dry cleaning business in South L.A., admired the ingenious mosaics created by a Chicago artist to fill the city’s potholes, …