Robinson Crusoe

The Real-Life Robinson Crusoe (Maybe)

Marooned sailor Alexander Selkirk, rescued after four years on a remote island, is usually taken as the model of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, but is he really?
Rum and Coke

What Rum and Cokes Have to do With War

What could be more American than a sugary soda mixed with a liquor made from sugar? The origins of rum and Coke is more problematic than you might expect.
Forest fire burning, Wildfire at night in Chiangmai, Thailand

Welcome to the Age of Megafires

It's been a terrible year for fires in California and elsewhere around the world. Because then it always is now in the age of megafires.
Plastic Pink Flamingos Flock together on Lawn

How the Plastic Pink Flamingo Became an Icon

The ubiquitous pink flamingo lawn ornament is 60 years old, a product of the age of suburbs and plastic. It has a surprising natural history.
Betty Crocker cupcakes

In Search of the Real Betty Crocker

Betty Crocker, the woman who would become America’s most beloved baker, sprang to life in 1921 in an all-male advertising department.
70s Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

In 1942, William Moulton Marston wrote an incredibly charming essay in defense of comics, and describing how he created Wonder Woman.

How to Understand the Resurgence of Eugenics

The extreme right wing has brought the discredited idea of eugenics back into the national conversation. Brave New World and Gattaca offer perspective.
Harvard quad

The Infamous Tale of the Murderous Chemistry Professor

The murder of Dr. George Parkman on the campus of Harvard College was one of the most famous crimes in nineteenth century America.
Showgirl

The Man Who Invented the Showgirl

Showgirl. Just the word calls to mind fabulous plumes, spangled sequins, and a distinctive strut. But where does ...
Eiffel Tower

A Short History of Paris for Travelers

Read up on some of the fascinating history of the City of Lights before you head off on your next romantic vacation.