An entertaining, inspiring memoir that ably captures an important slice of American history.



In this memoir, a man details his efforts to win recognition for his grandfather’s contributions to the construction of Mount Rushmore.

Del Bianco (In the Shadow of the Mountain, 2012) enjoyed an especially tight bond with his grandfather Luigi Del Bianco, a talented sculptor and carver. The author’s grandfather worked as the chief carver on the Mount Rushmore project under the famous designer, Gutzon Borglum, the only worker to have such an elevated distinction. But when an authoritative guide on Mount Rushmore was published in 1985, the author’s grandfather wasn’t even mentioned. Del Bianco was inspired to research his grandfather’s participation with the help of his uncle Caesar Del Bianco, who wrote to Lincoln Borglum, the designer’s son, for more information, correspondence that confirmed the significance of the role the author’s grandfather played. Del Bianco was encouraged by another author who wrote about Mount Rushmore to travel to the Library of Congress and inspect the “Borglum Papers,” a massive storehouse of correspondence Borglum wrote, a valuable historical resource. The author traveled to Mount Rushmore and tirelessly lobbied the site’s administrators to provide some official recognition of his grandfather’s achievement. The remembrance roughly bifurcates into two storylines—Del Bianco’s quest to achieve an official acknowledgement of his grandfather’s work and to create a biography of the man, an Italian immigrant who lived a remarkably eventful life. Born in 1892 aboard a ship sailing off the coast of France, he moved to the United States in 1908 at 17. He returned to Italy in 1915 to fight in World War I, and when he re-entered the United States, a friend introduced him to both Borglum and his future wife, Nicoletta. Del Bianco doggedly tracks down every available shred of information about his grandfather with the meticulousness of a forensic accountant. What emerges is not only an extraordinary biography, and an astute history of Mount Rushmore’s construction, but also an endearing account of a man’s loving homage to his grandfather. The author produced and starred in a one-man show about his grandfather, an act he was invited to perform at Mount Rushmore for a Fourth of July celebration. Del Bianco’s prose is clear and buoyant. It’s easy to be drawn into his infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter. Also, he provides an instructive technical analysis of the construction of Mount Rushmore. The recollection unfolds like a suspenseful drama, keeping the reader waiting to share the author’s discoveries and see if his grandfather is eventually accorded recognition for his work. The book includes old photographs detailing the author’s travels, his grandfather’s life, and Mount Rushmore and features pertinent documents and correspondence. Though a personal memoir, the information about Mount Rushmore should appeal to a wide audience, which will likely include those interested in either American history or sculpture.

An entertaining, inspiring memoir that ably captures an important slice of American history.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9989987-4-9

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Niche Content Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?