On the night of 17 July 1936, Lester Ziffren, the United Press correspondent in Madrid, broke the news of Franco's uprising. Within 36 hours the Spanish civil war had begun. Ziffren had been the UP representative for three years. During that time his diaries, radio broadcasts and articles plotted the gathering political crisis. These documents and the author's conversations with him tell the story of a young journalist, imbued with his principles of getting to the objective truth, who level-headedly reported on a country in which there was increasingly no middle ground, and who moved from the Hemingway circle of artists and bull-fighters to the political elite and to a social life spent among the grandees. He vividly describes the road to war through industrial and political conflict, and as a correspondent he reported on the horror of modern warfare while not being allowed to lose sight of the human cost.