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Is America as divided as it seems? Oxford University graduate student Ryan Bernsten takes a 23,000-mile journey through all 50 states of his home country to answer that question. 50 States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy is a work of travel nonfiction in the style of Alexis de Tocqueville that takes readers on a long and winding journey through all 50 states to explore the complexities of today’s America. Leading with the desire to listen and overcome preconceived notions, Bernsten ultimately offers a hopeful vision for the future of America as he embarks on a search for meaning and reflects on what it means to be American. The companion podcast “50 States of Mind,” featured in Condé Nast Traveler, showcases live interviews from the journey and is available on all podcast platforms. The podcast has been featured on the Two Broads Talking PoliticsSanityChicago IndivisibleNorthwestern Intersections, and Travel For a Loop podcasts and in Condé Nast Traveler. 








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“If you are sadly convinced that our country is hopelessly divided along political and cultural lines, then I strongly urge you to read the book that is guaranteed to give you hope.” - 
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

“What is America and who are the people who make up its heart and soul?  In 50 States of Mind, Ryan Bernsten gives us a window into our vast complexity, how we are different and yet alike.  In his journey through all 50 states, Bernsten talked to people from all walks of life and discovered a basic decency and love of country that prevailed in cities and towns across the nation.  At a time of depressing headlines and news stories, 50 States of Mind provides a welcome antidote and restores hope that our country will be all right in the end.” - Gov. Christine Todd Whitman


“Any politician, whether aspiring or actively in office, would do well to heed the words of 50 States of Mind… the book's much-needed prescription for angst and depression provides hope and a sense of purpose to modern America's struggles which is largely missing from newspaper headlines, but encouragingly present in this book. It considers the influences that polarize America, the nation's hopeful possibilities, and the pulse of a people living, breathing, and interacting to create a new American story.” - 
The Midwest Book Review


“Soulful, refreshing, and surprisingly funny, 50 States of Mind cuts through the divisive noise of the political moment. By approaching those he meets with humility and a commitment to listening, Ryan creates a portrait of the country which shows that, at the end of the day, most Americans have the same goals: strong communities and hope for the future.” -  
Jason Kander, former Missouri Secretary of State, U.S. Senate candidate, host of Majority 54 Podcast

“Clear-eyed, searching, and hopeful, 50 States of Mind reminds us that democracy is not a perpetual motion machine. Without the kind of open-hearted curiosity that fueled Ryan Bernsten’s powerfully moving cross-country journey, this all falls apart. With it, America has a future.” - 
Samantha Allen, author of Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States


“In 50 States of Mind, Ryan Bernsten gives us a deeper, more nuanced, and ultimately hopeful portrait of our shared American life. Throughout these pages and across the miles, Ryan’s humble approach – rooted in authentic curiosity about his fellow Americans’ lived experiences – reveals to the reader that we are less divided than our politics suggest. Reconnecting to each other at the community level based on what we share in common is a necessary way out of the political morass in which we find ourselves. With compelling vignettes and lasting insights, this book is a timely reminder that politics is always first and foremost about people.”
 - Nick Troiano, Executive Director, Unite America

In a time of divisive politics, 50 States of Mind began as a graduate thesis project about the state of American democracy and grew into a 23,000-mile journey to all 50 states to talk to people on the ground. 50 States of Mind the thesis earned a distinction from the University of Oxford before launching as a podcast made possible through the King’s Hall Trust. 50 States of Mind, which has listeners in over 40 countries and in all 50 States, has been featured on the Two Broads Talking PoliticsSanityChicago IndivisibleNorthwestern Intersections, and Travel For a Loop podcasts and in Condé Nast Traveler. 50 States of Mind aims to infuse humanity and nuance back into conversations about politics to help us overcome our preconceived notions.​






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