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Allen (left) and Brian Mann as boys in the 1980s, fishing near Sitka, their home town in Alaska.

NPR Series Crossing the Divide features audio diary by NCPR's Brian Mann

Canton, NY, Tuesday, January 23, 2007 – This week, National Public Radio will broadcast a series of special reports called "Crossing the Divide" that features an audio diary produced by Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio's Adirondack Bureau Chief.

Mann's essay will air nationally on All Things Considered, describing the culture war rift that cripples many families. The segment is part of NPR's look at the future of bipartisanship in America and is expected to air Wednesday, January 25th. You can visit NPR's "Crossing the Divide" webpage and listen online at:

Mann tells the story of his relationship with his more conservative brother Allen, an evangelical Lutheran who lives in rural Missouri. "After the 2004 election," Mann writes, "when things got really bad, Allen and I agreed to see if we could close the gap. We decided to keep talking about the things that divide us the most."

Mann's recent book, Welcome to the Homeland (Steerforth Press, September 2006) tells the story of these two brothers and their political dialogue. The LA Times wrote that "the conversations between Mann and his brother Allen, his ambassador to the other side, do much to illuminate the differences" in American values.

"Mann's use of his beloved brother as foil and muse and seer," wrote the Kansas City Star, "is endlessly fascinating."

North Country author Chris Shaw described "Homeland" as a "tough and tender account of mid-Western brothers who follow separate political and cultural paths."

Mann's story captures the difficulties that face more and more families who are divided by intractable issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. The brothers' experience offers hope and some guidance to people hoping to restart the dialogue within their own families.

"Allen and I still disagree about a lot of things," Mann writes, in his essay for NPR, "but we're convinced that our conversation has been worth it.

"What does it mean to be a family -- or a nation, for that matter -- if we can't talk about the most important things in our lives? If war, peace, love, sex, and God are all taboo, what DO we talk about? In a country as polarized as ours, talking across the divide may be the most hopeful thing we brothers do.

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