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Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels Hardcover – January 30, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Once past a rather long-winded introduction, Quart settles into a delightful rhythm, profiling fascinating people and sharing their distinct ways of forming connections and cultivating lives outside the mainstream. Quart’s subjects are often living thoroughly twenty-first-century lives, relying on the Internet and social media to form groups, reach out to like-minded individuals, and share their stories. But the author strays far from the expected, including the producers of the indie-film triumph Beasts of the Southern Wild and Kickstarter phenom musician Amanda Palmer. Readers will be surprised to see thoughtful inclusions of the “neurodiverse” (individuals diagnosed within the autism spectrum) and those defying standard classifications of serious mental illness and challenging our understanding of schizophrenia and bipolarity. More conventionally, Quart dives into the crafting world of Etsy and urban farming in New York City and Detroit, showing time and again that thinking and acting outside the box are often the only way many people can succeed professionally and in their communities. Lots of good food for thought and solid inspiration for those who feel stifled by traditional choices. --Colleen Mondor

Review

A Publishers Weekly Best New Book for the Week of August 5, 2013

"With brief but telling glimpses of the many people she interviews, the author makes connections that wouldn’t otherwise be obvious and places her subjects in historical context. Hers is a liberating vision of interlocking subcultures making themselves up as they go along."
The Columbus Dispatch

"Quart astutely identifies a cultural phenomenon that includes everyone from songwriter Jill Sobule to anti-establishment schizophrenics, and her careful reporting and vividly rendered characters make the book a vital, engaging read."
Psychology Today


"Republic of Outsiders [is] an in-depth, informative and entertaining investigation of the counterculture movements flourishing in the United States...Quart's strong reporting applauds and supports all these walks of life."
Shelf Awareness

"Even if you don’t consider yourself an outsider or a rebel, Quart's book has several lessons for creative work, particularly when it comes to making art outside a heavily commercial system."
Fast Company

"We have met the revolution, and it is us. . . . a groundbreaking study of the increasing influence of cultural outsiders."
The Philadelphia Inquirer

"And that, in the end, is our highest calling–to become ‘more wholly ourselves.’ Reading this book is a strengthening exercise toward that goal."
Feministing

"Alissa Quart has given us a rare and fascinating glimpse into America's diverse and burgeoning creative subcultures. If there’s a Republic of Outsiders, I want to apply for citizenship!”
—Barbara Ehrenreich

"Alissa Quart is one of the smartest cultural interpreters of her generation. In Republic of Outsiders, she mixes sharp-eyed analysis with an empathetic heart. The result is a great read, and a brand-new lens through which to view outsiders, insiders—and ourselves."
—Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

"As a determined 'outsider' myself, I feel both exposed and vindicated by Alissa Quart. This is an essential account of how and why fringe activism has become central to our culture and politics in a digital age."
—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock and Life Inc.

"A perceptive, analytical reporter. . . . Quart's profiles are thoroughly researched and admirably evenhanded. . . . . She effectively examines how outsider thinking can supplement, and in some cases supplant, mainstream methods."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A thought-provoking examination of counterculture through the eyes of those living life just outside the conventional box."
Kirkus


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (January 30, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595588752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595588753
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #697,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am the author of Republic of Outsiders. I also wrote Branded and Hothouse Kids. I write features and reported opinion pieces, most recently for The New York Times, Newsweek, O Magazine, The Nation, Reuters and New York. You can read some of them at alissaquart.com or follow me on Twitter @lisquart. I was a 2010 Nieman fellow at Harvard and am a contributing editor at CJR. I have also taught at Columbia Journalism School and my poetry has appeared in the London Review of Books, The Awl and other publications.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Devorah B on July 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a fantastic book - timely, intelligent, brilliantly agnostic yet appreciative about subjects of subcultures more used to being judged than understood. As with Quart's other books, this is journalism at its renegade best - as much poetry as reportage, it draws its observations from and about the way we live now with an insight, historical consciousness and sense of the bigger picture so conspicuously lacking elsewhere. Alissa Quart never fears to identify and name a trend, a phenomenon, an epoch, a culture; she recognizes her outsiders by their tools and weapons, their virtues and flaws, their delusions, their idioms, their dress codes... but she never fails to treat her subjects with care, with respect, with a generosity borne out of genuine curiosity, and sometimes even hope. Her outsiders are diverse and often strange, but they are never, in her hands, freakish. It's great to meet the people she has interviewed in a book that knows the theories underpinning so many of the movements and ideas behind various identity-formations and online or off-line activism, but which knows, too, that theory is one thing and practice is another - here, in this book, are the people who take ideas seriously enough to live by them. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mama Lit on August 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book thinking I'd be reading about somewhat marginal communities, only to realize that it offers powerful insights about the making of the mainstream. It was so much fun to read about the creative subcultures Quart chose as her focus. Exposing the "hidden circuitry" of how we are influenced, she explains how identities are created and refined, and how we move forward as a culture. Some of what's on the margins of today will be at the center tomorrow. I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in community, cultural interpretation, and the present-day political climate.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RaK206 on August 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Alissa Quart's new book is an immensely insightful exploration of counterculture, identity innovation, and the boundaries that divide the marginal from the mainstream. Although she brings the carefully calibrated objectivity of a journalist to her examination of these myriad "alternative" groups, there's also something extremely compassionate, almost reverent, in her portrayal of those who are defining themselves in radical terms; in opposition to the status quo. The book's central tenant is that there is immense value to be gained by observing the radical activities being enacted on the margins. Quart contends that the internet age has allowed for the amplification of renegade voices -- on topics as far ranging as mental illness, feminism, banking, and the generation of art, and that there's something, not everything, but something to be gained by listening. Through painstaking research, and wonderful prose, Quart delivers a message from the "outside" to the "inside," a message of examples that may serve as great instruction for a culture searching for the tools of authentic expression, activist empowerment, and community connection.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Humanities Hound on July 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Occupy Wall Street was not just a political movement, but a cultural phenomenon. Alissa Quart's well-written, fascinating book helps us to understand this "outsider" culture by unearthing a growing coterie of rebels and activists much less visible than Occupy but just as interesting as they push the mainstream in all sorts of unusual and often productive directions. We meet a captivating cast of characters and learn an important truth about American life in the 21st-century: counterculture is not dead! This book, by a seasoned and talented cultural critic, is a must-read for anyone who wants to appreciate the multiple movements of modern American life, movements that, in one form or another, can increasingly be seen the world over.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Judith on July 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book might as well be called "Them": Sexy, entertaining, but shows little respect for the depth of the issues she tries to explore.

Chapter one: She repeatedly, and apparently comfortably, uses the label "schizophrenics"--as if it's both a discretely meaningful medical term and the primary, irrefutable fact of one's personal identity. She lumps together a diverse group of people and reduces their rich, complex identities to a "disease". Her use of this word alone demonstrates a lack of awareness of the 'outsider' experience--as this is the most insulting thing she could possibly write about someone who has been labeled with schizophrenia.

She also uses the term 'patient-survivor' rather that psychiatric survivor. I've never heard the term patient-survivor before! Was it invented to make the truth more palatable to her 'insider' readership?

Finally, she makes the very dangerous suggestion that SSRIs can cause a manic reaction in people with 'underlying bipolar disorder', which isn't true at all. That's a common adverse effect of the drug. This myth is a drug company tactic used to avoid generating bad press, taking responsibility, and losing customers. It's well known that SSRIs can trigger a manic reaction in anyone-about 20-25% (See black box warnings and two decades of research).

I was excited by the topic of chapter one, disappointed by the language and missed opportunities to present a more thoughtful, compassionate look at the 'outsider' position with respect to our current paradigm of mental health care, human rights violations, and its survivor/activist community. Frankly, it's a bummer that she'll make money off of such a breezy investigation of a community which arose out of decades of pain, oppression, and lost or permanently altered lives. Contrary to her portrayals, it's not about being different for fashion's sake.
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