Out of Rushmore’s Shadow: The Luigi Del Bianco Story, 350 pages (pbk); $19.95
Third-generation Port Chesterite Lou Del Bianco grew up knowing his grandfather was the artist who brought Mount Rushmore to life, and rather than let him slip into obscurity, Del Bianco made it his mission to make sure America knew, too. Out of Rushmore’s Shadow: The Luigi Del Bianco Story is the culmination of one grandson’s 25-year quest to discover and secure his family’s place in history. Part road-trip tale, part genealogical crusade, Del Bianco’s book chronicles his search for the people, places, and records that put him deeper in touch with his family, living and dead, and the bizarre amount of pushback he faced even as he piled up unassailable evidence of his grandfather’s central role in shaping the monument. The arc of Luigi’s life offers a timely view of what it takes to achieve Americanness, illustrating that it’s always the most recent wave of immigrants who bear the brunt of the nation’s insecurities, even while literally constructing its icons. His story, entwined with that of his family’s efforts to enshrine his legacy, engenders a valuable exercise in historical perspective and living memory.