Last of the Conquerors

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Last of the Conquerors is the debut novel by African-American journalist and editor William Gardner Smith. It was first published in 1948.

The novel concerns African-American GI's serving in US occupied Germany after World War II. The protagonist, Hayes Dawkins, has an affair with Ilse, a white German woman. Together, he and Ilse struggle against racist Army officers and policies to sustain a relationship that some white soldiers condemn (although there are also many friendly whites who help them).

Last of the Conquerors depicts post-Nazi Germany as more racially tolerant than the United States. While this depiction may or may not be accurate, Smith's novel is offering a critique of Marshall Plan rhetoric claiming that American society should be a model for the world, while African-Americans continued to suffer under the Jim Crow system at home and in the military (an inconsistency noticed by many other writers, American and German, at the time).