Outcasts United

Outcasts United Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Warren St. John's Outcasts United. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Warren St. John

St. John was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and attended Columbia University. He served as a reporter at The New York Times from 2002 to 2008. His first book, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania, explores sports fandom and chronicles the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 1999 season. He published Outcasts United in 2009. St. John has also written for The New Yorker, Slate, the New York Observer, and Wired. He is currently the CEO and editor-in-chief of Patch, a local news network.
Get the entire Outcasts United LitChart as a printable PDF.
Outcasts united.pdf.medium

Historical Context of Outcasts United

St. John writes about several international conflicts that prompted many of the Fugees’ families to flee their home country. The two he explores most in depth are the First Liberian Civil War and the Burundian Civil War. In the First Liberian Civil War, Samuel Doe, a member of the minority Krahn tribe in Liberia, had led a coup in 1980 and taken power. Though Doe, the nation’s first Americo Liberian president, was initially supported by indigenous Liberian tribes, he began to mistreat other ethnic groups called the Gio and Mano, which led to a rebellion and eventually a civil war that involved the Liberian Army attacking unarmed civilians and burning villages. In 1990, Doe was executed and fighting continued until 1997, killing more than 200,000 Liberians and displacing a million others. In the Burundian civil war, where a Tutsi minority ruled over a Hutu majority for decades. Burundi held its first free election in 1993, and a Hutu leader, Melchior Ndadaye became Burundi’s first democratically elected president. Only a few months later, Ndadaye was assassinated and violence and chaos broke out between the two groups. The fighting continued through 2003, with an estimated 300,000 people killed.

Other Books Related to Outcasts United

Maria Padian’s Out of Nowhere can be considered a fictional counterpart to Outcasts United. It follows the story of Tom Bouchard, the star of a high school soccer team in small-town Maine. The town is turned upside-down following the arrival of Somali refugees, and several of them join the soccer team. The book explores similar topics of soccer as a unifying force and the various ways that Americans grapple with the arrival of refugees. The nonfiction work Spare Parts by Joshua Davis is thematically similar to Outcasts United. It follows the story of four undocumented immigrant boys who go on to win a national underwater robotics competition. It deals with similar topics like the necessity of teamwork, what it means to be American, and the importance of mentorship. Finally, Moustafa Bayoumi’s How Does it Feel to be a Problem? offers a portrait of the struggles that many young refugees (and specifically Muslim refugees) face as they grow up in a society that often discriminates against them, just as many of the Fugees and their families face prejudice and hardship in Clarkston.
Key Facts about Outcasts United
  • Full Title: Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference
  • When Written: 2007-2009
  • Where Written: Clarkston, Georgia
  • When Published: April 21, 2009
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Setting: Clarkston, Georgia
  • Climax: The Fugees are kicked off of their field.
  • Antagonist: Mayor Lee Swaney
  • Point of View: Third person, first person

Extra Credit for Outcasts United

Family Matters. Luma continues to do work for the Fugees through an organization called Fugees Family and has even given a Ted Talk about the need to support refugee kids.

Athletic Scholarship. The tutoring programs that Luma had started have grown into full-fledged academies, with campuses in both Atlanta, Georgia, and Columbus, Ohio. The campuses also provide year-round soccer programs.