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March 20, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE CARVING OF MOUNT RUSHMORE by Rex Alan Smith (Abbeville: $19.95; 416 pp., illustrated). The monumental busts of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt constitute the largest sculpture in the world: Each head is as tall as the Sphinx. This seemingly stolid piece of Americana had a colorful origin, as Rex Smith recounts in this surprising history. In prose that has a pleasantly old-fashioned ring, he details how and why the flamboyant sculptor Gutzon Borglum proposed the grandiose project, how he chose the site, why he included Roosevelt and how the titantic sculpture was financed.

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