These four interlinked stories encapsulate Martha Gellhorn’s firsthand observation of the Great Depression. Fiction crafted with documentary accuracy, they vividly render the gradual spiritual collapse of the simple, homely sufficiency of American life in the face of sudden unemployment, desperate poverty and hopelessness. They catch the mood of a generation ‘sucked into indifference’ and of young men who no longer ‘believe in man or God, let alone private industry’. Martha was the youngest of a squad of sixteen, handpicked reporters who were paid to file accurate, confidential reports on the human stories behind the statistics of the Depression directly to Roosevelt’s White House. In these pages, we understand the real cost of sudden destitution on a vast scale. We taste the dust in the mouth, smell the disease and feel the hopelessness and the despair. And here, too, we can hear the earliest cadences of the voice of a writer who went on to become, arguably, the greatest female war reporter of the 20th century.