The Woman Who Faced Down the Mob and Championed a Union

Min Matheson Brought Her Transformative Vision to an Unlikely Corner of America

Labor leader Min Lurye Matheson made her name facing down the mob. She arrived in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1944, dispatched by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, or ILGWU, to organize the hard-pressed garment workers of the Wyoming Valley anthracite coal region. Here, in towns with deep mob roots such as Pittston, she soon observed first-hand “the system,” an election day practice in which women signed the polling roster but had their husbands cast their votes—all under the watchful eye of authorities controlled by Russell Bufalino, the gangster depicted in …

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In Venezuela, Dystopian Fiction Hits Close to Home | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In Venezuela, Dystopian Fiction Hits Close to Home

J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise Shows What Happens When a Liberal Democracy Crumbles and Its Worst Vices Take Over

There’s a certain absurdity that comes with trying to explain—in calm, simple, and objective words—a life that has become too strange to be real. At least, that’s how I feel …

In Zimbabwe, Literature Is Protest | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In Zimbabwe, Literature Is Protest

A New Generation of Authors Are Giving Voice to the Post-Mugabe Reality

In November 2017, when a military coup removed Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s head of state after 37 years of rule, euphoria gripped the whole country. Many saw it as an …

Coming Home to the Holocaust | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Coming Home to the Holocaust

My Mother Barely Escaped Nazi Germany. I Returned to Remember Those Who Didn't and to Reclaim Them as My Own

In the town hall of Fischach, a village in southern Germany with a population of 2,500, I am staring at a glass display case holding the detritus of the Jews …

Why ‘Treason’ Usually Isn’t Treason | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why ‘Treason’ Usually Isn’t Treason

The Constitution Defines Treason Narrowly. That Hasn’t Stopped the Overblown Rhetoric

The last four years have been a strange time to be a scholar of American treason law. The members of this tiny (and I mean really tiny) group used to …

Hamlet Is a Suicide Text—It’s Time to Teach It Like One | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Hamlet Is a Suicide Text—It’s Time to Teach It Like One

A Scholar of Shakespeare Sees Perils and Possibilities in the Bard's Plays, and His Own Experience

I once tried to commit suicide. Twenty years later, it’s still hard to talk about. I didn’t want to die. Self-esteem issues, depression, alcoholism. I was signaling, in an unhealthy …