Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Best of Enemies” as Want to Read:
Best of Enemies
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Best of Enemies

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  23 reviews
In a vivid portrait of a relationship that defied all odds in 1960s North Carolina, Davidson tells how C.P. Ellis (a poor white member of the KKK) and Ann Atwater (a poor black civil rights activist) went from being each other's worst and most hostile enemies to forming an incredible, long-lasting friendship. By placing this very personal story into broader context, Davids ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 27th 2007 by The University of North Carolina Press (first published 1996)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Best of Enemies, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Best of Enemies

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 235)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Osha Gray Davidson
I sympathize with readers who said it was slow reading, and if it's any consolation, it was far slower to write.
The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson (Scribner 1996) (305.800). This book has a distinctly National Public Radio flavoring to it. It's the story of how blacks overcame the status-quo Jim Crow South in the 1960's and 1970's in Durham, North Carolina. It follows two community organizers as they worked to improve the lot of their constituents: Ann Atwater was a poor uneducated black single parent who rose to a position of leadership among the poor blacks o ...more
A great, readable history of the civil rights movement in Durham, North Carolina, focused particularly on the human experiences of two prominent community organizers of the lower class: one, a particularly aggressive proponent for the rights of poor blacks named Ann Atwater; the other, C.P. Ellis, a poor white supremacist and leader of the local Ku Klux Klan. When these two are brought together to take on the challenge of school desegregation some incredible human change takes place. I would rec ...more
Maya B
This was an interesting read. This book was mostly about the history and race relations in Durham, N.C. I felt the author only touched a little on C.P Ellis and Ann Atwater, who clearly did a lot to try to desegregate their communities. I was hoping the book would have been more about how these 2 individuals came together for a common cause and have the history of Durham as the backdrop.
Very well written book, sensitive to the many feelings exhibited by both blacks and white, rich and poor. Excellent historical perspective on the civil rights movement in general, as well as focusing on the changes that took place in 2 individuals to alter their long-held inner beliefs about race. I loved this book. It gave me a little hope for positive change in the future, even though improvements in race relations has been sooooo slow. And I appreciated the author's insight to the huge role t ...more
Excellent social history telling the story of transformation of a poor white leader of the KKK into a man who realizes that black people are human beings with the same need for respect and economic opportunity. He was appointed to a public school integration project with Ann Atwater, a black community organizer. Both started out being suspicious and hateful but they became friends and allies as they realized that both groups of people--poor whites and blacks--had been exploited by the South's ri ...more
I think I grew up thinking that Brown vs. The Board of Education was a magic wand. All of a sudden, schools were desegregated. Obviously, that is not the case, and this book gives a powerful portrait of an important window of time when that threshold had to be crossed. Of course I'm partial to Durham, but this story is super compelling. Osha is a journalist who does an exquisite job of making history come alive through just enough fictional detail to give it immediacy and a sense of being there. ...more
Despite my high rating, I'm not necessarily recommending this book to you. It is a history of the city I'm living in and filled in the blanks - by telling the story of a local black activist and a Klu Klux Klan member who cooperated and became friends - that I had been wondering about. An excellent overview of how this town was once a Black powerhouse, vibrant and bustling and today struggles along, poor and scrappy. It helped me understand where I live in a deep way. Vital reading if you plan t ...more
There is a lot of historical background along with the story of Ann Atwater and CP Ellis, but I thought it was necessary for those of us who didn't live in this time period and thought integration "just happened." Davidson also presented some nice parallels in the turning points in Durham, Ellis' life, and Atwater's life.

The last couple of chapters felt overly romanticized, but it's a story I think should be told, so I ignored the dramatization.

I recommend it for those who want to understand t
Lisa Ramey
Not a quick read but learned a lot from this book. For friends in Atlanta, a play based on this book is showing at the Rialto Theater / Theatrical Outlet on Luckie Street - runs through mid or end of Feb. I wanted to read it before we went to see the play.
I absolutely loved this book. Perhaps it is because my partner is coordinating a dialogue process in our city, but this book was one of my favorites. I first read about it in another book, "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error" and I am so glad I tracked it down.

I learned so much about the civil rights movement, and have a much better sense of the long-standing class issues within the black community. i saw so many parallels to current issues and relationships.

This book should be called, "The history of race relations in Durham, North Carolina with a little bit about the friendship between two people." I am not saying that I didn't find all of the history interesting (my favorite author of all time is David McCoullough) but just like the long tedious process it took for blacks to get some basic human rights concessions in Durham, this book definitely felt a long and tedious.
I acquired this book for UNC Press. It's a very readable history of race relations in Durham--and in the South in general. The book follows the true story of a former KKK Grand Wizard in Durham who befriended a militant black Civil Rights leader. The book was chosen as the Duke Freshman Class Required Summer Reading book and is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the Civil Rights movement in Durham.
What an omnibus of understanding for all sides of the Civil Rights Movement. The author did an excellent job of looking objectively at the complicated race issues of Durham, NC, and still managed to be entertaining. I also have a new respect for the black, women leaders of the Civil Rights Movement - a story I've never heard.
One of the best, most touching histories of Durham and the Civil Rights Movement that has ever been written. A must-read for Durham locals and transplants as well as anyone with an interest in history. If, like me, you didn't live through this era, the story of C.P. and Ann is enlightening in many ways.
such an enlightening read - the true story of a civil rights activist and former klan leader forced to work together to better race relations in durham, nc. this book is very honest about some of the historical details of race relations & politics.
This book was one of Duke's summer reading selections. It paints a real picture of what life was like during integration and what exactly society had to overcome.
This is a great book but, as much as I appreciated all the historical context provided, I wanted more about the two main characters and their friendship.
Sep 14, 2007 Anne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: residents of durham
A fascinating look at the history of race relations in North Carolina, told via the relationship of two people.
Really excellent historical outlay of Durham's history as well as a profile of Ann Atwater and CP Ellis.
Erika Rasmussen
Oct 11, 2007 Erika Rasmussen marked it as to-read
my father worked for the guy in this book (claiborne ellis) when my dad was a teen! yikes!
This is a good story...but just listen to our show about it!
Terry Earley
Aug 05, 2012 Terry Earley marked it as to-read
Mentioned in the book "Being Wrong" by Kathryn Schultz.
Julian Sandor
Julian Sandor marked it as to-read
Nov 27, 2015
Jonathan Pérez
Jonathan Pérez marked it as to-read
Nov 17, 2015
Jen marked it as to-read
Nov 17, 2015
Harley is currently reading it
Nov 13, 2015
Casey marked it as to-read
Nov 05, 2015
Zakira added it
Nov 02, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Proud Shoes
  • Open Society Reforming Global Capitalism Reconsidered
  • Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don't You Grow Weary
  • Mountain Rescue Doctor: Wilderness Medicine in the Extremes of Nature
  • The Men Who Would Be King: Suitors to Queen Elizabeth I
  • The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb
  • Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment
  • Pretty-shield (Second Edition): Medicine Woman of the Crows (Second Edition)
  • Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics
  • All God's Children
  • Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference
  • I Have a Dream / Letter from Birmingham Jail
  • Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story
  • Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse
  • Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps
  • We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March
  • The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce
  • The Protestant Reformation

Share This Book