The Fires California Grieves—And Needs

In Her Scorched Klamath Mountains Community, a Fire Advisor Contemplates Mortality and Renewal

On a recent Sunday, I lay alone by my favorite hometown swimming hole, taking in the familiar sensations of the South Fork Trinity River. The hot sun, the light up-canyon wind—sending mist over me each time it swirled past the falls—the buzz and clicking of grasshoppers, the distant sound of trucks passing by on the rural highway above. I looked down at my body and thought how remarkable it was that I’m still me, all these decades later, and the rocks and the trail and the river are still here, …

The 20th-Century Rise of the Confederate Soybean | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The 20th-Century Rise of the Confederate Soybean

The Emergence of Plants Named 'Jackson' and 'Lee' Tell a Larger Story of How the USDA Catered to White Farmers

If you were a devoted reader of Soybean Digest in the middle decades of the last century—likely a farmer who was either growing soybeans or seriously considering it—you might have …

The Historian and the Murderer | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Historian and the Murderer

A Croatian Historian's Death Ultimately Put Our Profession on Trial

On May 14, 2018, I was led into a nondescript courtroom in Kew Gardens, Queens to testify at a murder trial. I am a historian who loves details, and the …

Can Bridgerton Teach Us How to Live? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Can Bridgerton Teach Us How to Live?

A Historian Finds Classical Resonance, and Maybe Even Useful Philosophy, Beneath the Elaborate Costumes and Melodrama

Everything is broken,” repeated the chorus of a Bob Dylan song from his 1989 album Oh Mercy—strings (guitar, presumably), heads, hearts, vows, laws, and idols. The nation suffered from social …

If Only California Were More Like Palm Springs | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

If Only California Were More Like Palm Springs

The Citadel of Modernism Shows How the Golden State Can Look Backward to Move Forward 

Palm Springs isn’t just a great place to spend a weekend. It’s one of our last and most fervent defenders of what California really is—not what it pretends to be.

That’s …

Where I Go: Visiting Mushakraj, a Rodent Icon in Kathmandu | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Where I Go: Visiting Mushakraj, a Rodent Icon in Kathmandu

A Gilt-Metal Rat Carries the Powers of the God, and the Weight of Tragedy and Centuries

The city seemed like a mushroom, a cement mycelium inserting itself into new corners of the valley, fragmenting blocks of countryside and then flooding in like a gray tide to …