Outcasts United

Outcasts United

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Written By: Warren St. John       
Narrated By: Lincoln Hoppe
Date: 20 April 2009
Duration: 06:31:00

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| Summary

The extraordinary tale of a refugee youth soccer team and the transformation of a small American town

Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement center in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world's war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston's streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colors playing soccer in any open space they could find. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated Jordanian woman who founded a youth soccer team to unify Clarkston's refugee children and keep them off the streets. These kids named themselves the Fugees.

Set against the backdrop of an American town that without its consent had become a vast social experiment, Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach. Warren St. John documents the lives of a diverse group of young people as they miraculously coalesce into a band of brothers, while also drawing a fascinating portrait of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals. At the center of the story is fiery Coach Luma, who relentlessly drives her players to success on the soccer field while holding together their lives—and the lives of their families—in the face of a series of daunting challenges.

This fast-paced chronicle of a single season is a complex and inspiring tale of a small town becoming a global community—and an account of the ingenious and complicated ways we create a home in a changing world.

| Author

Warren St. John

Warren St. John is an American author and journalist. He was a reporter at The New York Times from 2002-2008, and now serves as the CEO and editor-in-chief of Patch, the hyperlocal news network formerly part of AOL.

St. John is the author of the National Bestseller Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania. The book explores the phenomenon of sports fandom and chronicles the Alabama Crimson Tide's 1999 season by following the team in an RV, telling the stories of extremely devoted fans he met during the season. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer was named one of Sports Illustrated’s best books of the year in 2004, and ranked number one on The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of the best books ever written about collegiate athletics. "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer" was optioned for film in 2009 by the Los Angeles-based production company Half Shell Entertainment.

St. John's second book, Outcasts United: An American Town, A Refugee Team and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference, was published in the U.S. on April 21, 2009, by Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, and subsequently in the U.K., The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Japan and China. The book tells the story of Clarkston, Georgia, a southern town that became a center for refugee resettlement, through the lens of a soccer team of refugee boys called "the Fugees." The book explores the difficulties the team and town face as people from a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds are forced to live and work together. The book and St. John's 2007 article for The New York Times about the team, "The Fugees: Adjusting to America; Outcasts United," were optioned for a motion picture by Universal Studios.

At The Times, St. John was principally a feature writer. In 2005, he introduced the term "metrosexual" into widespread usage through a Times piece headlined "Metrosexuals Come Out." In 2006, St. John played a major role in the JT LeRoy hoax, publicly identifying both the actress who portrayed the author during public appearances (Savannah Knoop) and the actual writer of LeRoy's works (Laura Albert). St. John frequently writes about the impact of technology on social behavior, and has written for The New Yorker, Slate, the New York Observer, and Wired.

St. John was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and attended The Altamont School. He attended Columbia University in New York City.

| Books by Warren St. John