Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance

Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance

by Alexis Clark


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A “New & Noteworthy” selection of The New York Times Book Review

“Alexis Clark illuminates a whole corner of unknown World War II history.”
Walter Isaacson, New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci

“[A]n irresistible human story. . . . Clark’s voice is engaging, and her tale universal.”
Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

A true and deeply moving narrative of forbidden love during World War II and a shocking, hidden history of race on the home front

This is a love story like no other: Elinor Powell was an African American nurse in the U.S. military during World War II; Frederick Albert was a soldier in Hitler’s army, captured by the Allies and shipped to a prisoner-of-war camp in the Arizona desert. Like most other black nurses, Elinor pulled a second-class assignment, in a dusty, sun-baked—and segregated—Western town. The army figured that the risk of fraternization between black nurses and white German POWs was almost nil.

Brought together by unlikely circumstances in a racist world, Elinor and Frederick should have been bitter enemies; but instead, at the height of World War II, they fell in love. Their dramatic story was unearthed by journalist Alexis Clark, who through years of interviews and historical research has pieced together an astounding narrative of race and true love in the cauldron of war.

Based on a New York Times story by Clark that drew national attention, Enemies in Love paints a tableau of dreams deferred and of love struggling to survive, twenty-five years before the Supreme Court’s Loving decision legalizing mixed-race marriage—revealing the surprising possibilities for human connection during one of history’s most violent conflicts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620971864
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 05/15/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 27,683
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Previously an editor at Town & Country magazine, Alexis Clark is a freelance journalist who has written for the New York Times, Yahoo, The Root, Condé Nast Traveler, and other publications. An alumna of Spelman College, Clark holds master’s degrees from the University of Virginia and Columbia Journalism School, where she’s currently an adjunct professor. She lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Introduction xiii

1 Elinor 1

2 Frederick 23

3 Fighting Hitler and Jim Crow 45

4 German POWs in the United States 71

5 Prisoners and Nurses 93

6 A Forbidden Romance 111

7 End of War 121

8 An Uncertain Future 137

9 Searching for Acceptance 155

10 Finally Home 177

Postscript 207

Acknowledgments 209

Notes 217

Index 233

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