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Outcasts United is the story of a refugee soccer team, a remarkable woman coach and a small southern town turned upside down by the process of refugee resettlement.
In the 1990s, that town, Clarkston, Georgia, became a resettlement center for refugees and a modern-day Ellis Island for scores of families from war zones in Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to help keep Clarkston’s boys off the streets. These boys named themselves the Fugees -- short for refugees.
Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees, their families and their charismatic coach as they struggle to build new lives in a fading town overwhelmed by change. Theirs is a story about resilience in the face of extraordinary hardship, the power of one person to make a difference and the daunting challenge of creating community in a place where people seem to have so little in common.
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“I had several requests off-line to share my experiences using Outcasts United by Warren St. John with our freshman seminar course. As this book just came out this year, Georgia Tech was one of the first universities to use it, so I am happy to share my thoughts. . . . I would HIGHLY recommend this book for use in a first-year seminar or reading program. The response from our students and faculty was incredibly positive, and Warren’s presentation to our students was outstanding.” –Steven P. Giradot, Director, Office of Success Programs, Georgia Institute of Technology
"Not merely about soccer, St. John's book teaches readers about the social and economic difficulties of adapting to a new culture and the challenges facing a town with a new and disparate population. Despite their cultural and religious differences and the difficulty of adaptation, the Fugees came together to play soccer. This wonderful, poignant book is highly recommended..."
–Library Journal, starred review
A "richly detailed, uplifting account of a young Jordanian immigrant who created a soccer program in Georgia for young refugees from war-torn nations . . . educational and enriching."
– Kirkus Reviews
"St. John hits a trifecta . . . A fascinating and fast-moving account of big-picture politics, small-town sports, and some very memorable people."
"Inspiring...richly detailed...Deeply satisfying...a bighearted book."
"As St. John tells it, the Fugees’ story is something of a radical social experiment: a test case in 21st-century immigration and identity politics. But it’s also a deeply moving example of what men and women of goodwill can do."
–Very Short List
“A brilliant and empathetic depiction of our common quest for meaning and happiness. Warren St. John invites us into the lives of a community of refugees, their bewildered neighbors in a small town, and a Jordanian woman who not only coaches but also mentors, mothers, and inspires some remarkable boys, to create a heartwarming tale about the transformations that occur when our disparate lives connect.”
–Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone
“Truly unforgettable, Outcasts United offers a stirring lesson in the power of a single person to transform the lives of many. It’s an incisive window into the world ahead for all of us, where cultural diversity won’t be an ideal or a course requirement or a corporate initiative but a fact of life that has to be wrestled with and reconciled, if never quite resolved.”
–Reza Aslan, author of No God but God
Warren St. John is a reporter for The New York Times and the author of the national bestseller Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer.