The Anticipatory Grief of Living Through a Pandemic

The Great Believers, a Novel of the AIDS Crisis, Reminds Us That ‘We Are the Memory-Keepers of This Moment’

To be a survivor of wars, of diseases, of earth-shattering moments is to be an inheritor. You inherit the grief that comes with loss; but you also inherit the memories, and the responsibility and privilege of preserving those moments, of carrying on the legacies of those lost.

The role of memory-keeper is a tangled one, as Rebecca Makkai discovered when she interviewed patients, doctors, nurses, activists, and historians who lived through the AIDS epidemic for her 2018 novel, The Great Believers. The book is a provocative read during the COVID-19 …

A Poem That Would Not Let Me Go | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A Poem That Would Not Let Me Go

When I Found Multiple Truths in the Work of 18th-Century Poet Phillis Wheatley, She Became Some Kind of Kin


I do not remember how old I was when my grandmother showed me Phillis Wheatley’s poetry. Ten, maybe 11? Young enough that my hands were open to everything she put …

How the U.S. Designed Overseas Cemeteries to Win the Cold War

From France to the Philippines, Stunning Landscapes of Infinite Graves Displayed American Sacrifice and Power

Americans commemorate our fallen soldiers differently than other countries do. You can see the difference most clearly overseas. While innumerable war cemeteries in Europe and the Philippines account for the …

There Is a Real Bedford Falls—It’s My Upstate New York Town

An Uncanny Physical Resemblance and a Frank Capra Visit Connect Seneca Falls to His Holiday Classic

Bedford Falls, the town that is the real star of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, is a fictional place. But it closely resembles a real town.

I live there.

The evidence …

How Concentration Camp Prisoners Found Comfort in Imaginary Feasts

From Ravensbrück to Mao's Labor Camps, Inmates Recited Family Recipes to Preserve Their Humanity

When the Soviet Union sent Dmitri Likhachev to an offshore detention camp in February 1928, the Russian scholar was crammed onto a train car with other prisoners and handed a …