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The Trouble I've Seen
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 i ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Eland
(first published 1936)
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As well as her travel and war reporting, Gellhorn also reported on social problems within the US in the mid 30s as part of a group of writers commissioned to supply an accurate picture of the plight of the poor to the heads of the new welfare programmes. This book consists of the 4 novelas she produced from her experience, and they make grim reading. They are all bleakly unsentimental depictions of poverty and despair, candid in the portrayal of racial attitudes and inequality, and with no glib ...more
Aug 04, 2014 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars · review of another edition
This 1936 collection of 4 novellas was Martha Gellhorn's 2nd book. Her first was the novel What Mad Pursuit based on her time in Paris in the early 1930's. The fictional novellas in "The Trouble I've Seen" are based on her fact finding trips as part of a group of 16 writers who fanned out around the USA during 1934-35 to send back reports to Harry Hopkins at the Federal Emergency Relief Association to provide ground level information on what people in the nation were experiencing during the Grea ...more
I was struck by the recurring theme throughout these stories of the shame people felt when they had no choice but to go on Relief. My Dad was born in 1928 and raised on the Saskatchewan prairies during the Dirty Thirties, as they were known here. He also reacted to the thought of unemployment insurance and welfare as fates worse than death that must be avoided at all costs. I see now that as he was raised during those hard times when all people had was their pride, he couldn't feel any other way ...more
True grit. The American spirit and determination against the odds. All the stories in this collection should have been made into a classic Hollywood film. Managing to show both the terror & tenderness of the great depression. A Diamond in the rough.
I hate sentimental renditions of other people's troubles. I feel in order to keep dignity, the last thing you need is to be displayed to teach somebody a lesson or worse to evoke sympathy. Or am I a coward and ostrich, thinking that if I don't know about it, it does not exist? Martha Gellhorn tells how unemployment combined with hunger can render humans hopeless with veracity and completely "free of cant" (from the introduction). Brilliant. No soppiness in sight!
American novelist, travel writer and journalist, considered to be one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism is named after her.More about Martha Gellhorn...