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Gift ideas -- choicest new books for the holidays; America's mountains; Mountains of North America: The Great Peaks and Ranges of the Continent, by Fred Beckey. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books in association with the American Alpine Club. 255 pp. $35.

Although the text is fairly pedestrian, this book is an illustrated introduction to some of the major peaks and ranges in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The author has climbed most of them.Each of the 35 chapters offers geological and historical data, as well as the author's own views. Included are the obvious choices: Mount Washington, Grand Teton, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount McKinley, but also Maroon Bells, Ship Rock and others less well known.

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