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Road to Valor: A True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nationby Aili Mcconnon
Synopses & Reviews
Road to Valor is the inspiring, against-the-odds story of Gino Bartali, the cyclist who made the greatest comeback in Tour de France history and secretly aided the Italian resistance during World War II.
Gino Bartali is best known as an Italian cycling legend: the man who not only won the Tour de France twice, but also holds the record for the longest time span between victories. During the ten years that separated his hard-won triumphs, his actions, both on and off the racecourse, ensured him a permanent place in Italian hearts and minds.
In Road to Valor, Aili and Andres McConnon chronicle Bartali’s journey, starting in impoverished rural Tuscany where a scrawny, mischievous boy painstakingly saves his money to buy a bicycle and before long, is racking up wins throughout the country. At the age of 24, he stuns the world by winning the Tour de France and becomes an international sports icon.
But Mussolini’s Fascists try to hijack his victory for propaganda purposes, derailing Bartali’s career, and as the Nazis occupy Italy, Bartali undertakes secret and dangerous activities to help those being targeted. He shelters a family of Jews in an apartment he financed with his cycling winnings and is able to smuggle counterfeit identity documents hidden in his bicycle past Fascist and Nazi checkpoints because the soldiers recognize him as a national hero in training.
After the grueling wartime years, Bartali fights to rebuild his career as Italy emerges from the rubble. In 1948, the stakes are raised when midway through the Tour de France, an assassination attempt in Rome sparks nationwide political protests and riots. Despite numerous setbacks and a legendary snowstorm in the Alps, the chain-smoking, Chianti-loving, 34-year-old underdog comes back and wins the most difficult endurance competition on earth. Bartali’s inspiring performance helps unite his fractured homeland and restore pride and spirit to a country still reeling from war and despair.
Set in Italy and France against the turbulent backdrop of an unforgiving sport and threatening politics, Road to Valor is the breathtaking account of one man’s unsung heroism and his resilience in the face of adversity. Based on nearly ten years of research in Italy, France, and Israel, including interviews with Bartali’s family, former teammates, a Holocaust survivor Bartali saved, and many others, Road to Valor is the first book ever written about Bartali in English and the only book written in any language to fully explore the scope of Bartali’s wartime work. An epic tale of courage, comeback, and redemption, it is the untold story of one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.
"Journalist Alli McConnon and historical researcher Andres McConnon uncover the untold story of Italian bicycle racing legend Gino Bartali's secret work during WWII saving Jews from the Holocaust. The sister-and-brother team describe Bartali's rise from humble origins in a village outside of Florence to international sports stardom as a two-time winner of bicycle racing's ultimate challenge, the Tour de France. They perfectly recreate the excitement of his 1948 Tour victory. With rioting in the wake of the attempted assassination of the head of Italy's Communist Party, many believe that Bartali's victory united Italians and prevented civil war. But the authors' primary focus is on Bartali's dangerous and secret work as a courier for a network that protected Italian Jews from the Nazis during the war, making this account much more than just another sports biography. At the request of Florence's antifascist archbishop, Elia Dalla Cpsta, who wanted to aid Jewish refugees flooding into the city, Bartali carried false identity documents and photos through numerous police and military checkpoints under the guise of 'training' rides. Based mostly on Italian primary sources and hundreds of hours of interviews, this thoroughly documented biography is both inspiring and immensely enjoyable. Photos, maps. Agent: Peter McGuigan, Foundry Literary & Media. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
AILI McCONNON is a Canadian journalist living in New York who has been a staff writer for BusinessWeek and has also written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian.
ANDRES McCONNON has been a historical researcher for several books. Aili and Andres are siblings, born in Toronto.
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