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As someone who once worked for a company where I had colleagues who were refugees of war-torn countries, this book was personally relevant. Just as in the book, I was told the most astounding and frightening tales of what people did to survive on a day-to-day basis and how they were ultimately forced to flee their homes for fear of their own lives and those of their families. It really made me think of how lucky I have always been to have never had to face anything remotely like what they'd gone through. I had the same feeling when I read this book and St. John delved into the stories of the Fugees players and what they had gone through before reaching the U.S.
Perhaps the saddest part of this book is the reality that greets these people when they reach the U.S. It was sobering to read about how they were settled in apartment complexes where they lived next door to drug dealers and gang members. It was sad to think that these people had escaped the devastation of their...
How does a soccer coach find a practice field for her team? Google Earth.
But why, in a town that's not short of parks, is she looking for a field on Google Earth?
Because the mayor keeps issuing what seem like illegal orders to deny her team access to any of the lush local fields.
And why would he do that?
Because this is Clarkston, Georgia, a town of 7,200 a dozen miles from Atlanta. And the members of the soccer team are not only boys of color, they are foreigners --- Africans, mostly --- who have come to Clarkston as part of a wave of immigrants.
'Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town'is set in the feel-bad reality of a small town that never wanted to be the dumping ground for people fleeing conflict zones. It's a story of bumbling villains --- the mayor is a decent soul who's way over his head; the bad cop is the sort of jerk you can find anywhere --- and unlikely heroes. The first heroes are, of course, the...
After reading "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer," Warren St. John's previous book detailing the personalities who follow the Alabama football team in their RVs during football season, I was looking forward to "Outcasts United." I anticipated another examination of the intersection of personal stories, cultural attitudes, and sport. In this, I was not disappointed. "Outcasts United" does an admirable job of getting at the larger story surrounding a young soccer coach and her team of refugee players in Clarkston, Georgia. The boys' backgrounds of ethnic struggle, the reactions of a town once lily-white now coping with floods of refugee resettlement, the dangers posed by American gangs and violence... all detailed with the research and perspective that one would expect from a New York Times reporter. But overall, I was slightly let down. For all the amassing of dates and details, I was left wanting something. Wanting to know more about the boys (epilogue not withstanding), more...
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