"I'd rather fail in story writing than succeed in anything else, " Josephine Herbst declared in 1913. The Iowa native's Trexler family trilogy, with Pity Is Not Enough as its first volume, shows clearly that Herbst in fact succeeded at story-telling. In this novel Herbst draws loosely on her family history, using Reconstruction's demise in Georgia to link the advance of free market capitalism to the North's abandonment of its commitment to racial justice. The protagonists - Catherine Trexler and her brother Joe, a carpetbagger embroiled in railroad scandals - are ripped apart financially and psychologically by competing codes of domesticity, Southern manners, and capitalism. In her introduction to the book, Mary Ann Rasmussen argues that Herbst was unlike many other 1930s leftists in that she refused the "essentialist notions of gender difference that confounded radical men and women of her generation."