Alexis Clark on Enemies in Love

05/16/2018 - 7:00pm
Creative Nonfiction
Reading

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, Eleanor 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 and racist assumptions, 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 in one of history's most violent conflicts.

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