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Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy,…
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Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who…

by Aili McConnon, Andres McConnon (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
An amazing story of a tough as nails professional bicycle racer, circa WWII Italy. Gino Bartali was a devout Catholic who triumphed athletically before and after WWII, but the most amazing part of this story is how valiantly he behaved during the war, but out of competition. His sports accomplishments were great — a two time TdF winner (separated by WWII and 10 years!) and a three time Giro d’ Italia winner — but his heroism first surfaced off the bike, during the war. Bartali risked his own life, and that of his family, by covertly transporting forged identity documents inside his bicycle frame, all for the benefit of many Jewish Italians and Jewish immigrants. This is an inspiring true story: informative and captivating to the end.

Competitive cycling enthusiasts will be fascinated to read and learn about the TdF winner and Italian successor to Bartali, Fausto Coppi. Basic elements of Coppi are woven throughout. Coppi is the younger of the two and was groomed, somewhat, by Bartali. It’s fascinating to learn how the country chose sides and had a strong sense of favoritism for one of the cycling greats, but not both. Nobody loved both of them; arguments could divide the country. The two men were not friends but did share the commonality of being great cyclists. The authors weave Interesting aspects of political history and political party affiliation into the overall story.

FAVORITE QUOTES
p. 239: Bartali says, "Everyone in their life has his own particular way of expressing life's purpose -- the lawyer his eloquence, the painter his palette, and the man of letters his pen from which the quick words of his story flow. I have my bicycle."

p. 244: "The root of [Bartali's] reticence was a deeply felt concern that his celebrity as a cyclist would aggrandize his role in the network and overshadow the other participant's contributions, ordinary Italians and Catholic clergy who took extraordinary risks to save others." ... 'I don't want to appear to be a hero. Heroes are those who died, who were injured, who spent many months in prison.' ( )
  bikesandbooks | Jan 29, 2017 |
I read this 3 years ago when it first came out and I am remiss in not reviewing it earlier. But 3 weeks ago, the authors - a brother/sister team spoke about it at a holocaust memorial event and it is now, again, high in my thoughts.

This is an extraordinary story, brought back to life by the tenacity of two very smart, determined journalists. To me, one of the amazing things is that neither have any "skin in this game". They pursued the witnesses and evidence across continents in a face against time that was quickly erasing any memories of this extraordinary Italian cyclist.

Reading this book, you will find some personal experiences of Italians during WW2, the determination of Bartali, and the tragedy of his life - being possibly the best cyclist ever and having a world war interfere with his would-be stellar career, and making the most of his talents in spite of it.

Lots of great stuff about the origins of the Tour de France. It wasn't always so glamorous.

The authors, Aili and Andres, are a very impressive duo. I will look for more by either of them. ( )
  lawrence | Dec 21, 2016 |
Really great story, quick to read that is well written and researched about one of the more amazing Tour de France winners. The chapters on his last major victory are especially compelling but the book moves along quickly in general. Recommended to anyone interested in WWII or feats of endurance. It left me wondering how our world could produce people with characters like that of Gino Barati (truly a courageous human) who barely earned enough to survive and yet in our current society we reward financially and famously Kanye West and Kim Kardashian who contribute nothing. Is capatalism to blame, democracy, media? Unfortunately, I didn't find answers to these questions here or even the questions. If the book had been a little more probing on what Gino Bartali or his efforts meant rather than trotting out the time worn the holocaust was terrible (it was) and thank god for unrewarded heroes like this (thank god indeed) stanza's I would have given it 5. Again very enjoyable. ( )
  statmonkey | Mar 13, 2016 |
"Everyone in their life has his own particular way of expressing life's purpose - the lawyer his eloquence, the painter his palette, and the man of letters his pen from which the quick words of his story flow. I have my bicycle." -- Gino Bartali

It might be difficult to imagine a time before cars and airplanes made travel quick and easy, but in the earlier part of the century the bicycle was about the best many could hope for. It not only enabled them to go from place to place quickly but sometimes became necessary if you wanted a job. And with the rise of bicycles in Europe came cycling clubs and eventually races. One dominant Italian racer in the 1930s was Gino Bartali, whose incredible endurance on mountain slopes made him a formidable opponent and led to a 1938 victory in the Tour de France. But his racing career sputtered to an halt when war came, and he was put to use delivering messages on his bicycle... and later secretly transporting forged documents for Jewish families hiding from the police. That continued "training" helped when he later won the Tour de France again in 1948 at a time when he was thought "too old" (at 34!) and when his country was rocked by an assassination attempt and riots, and Bartali continues to hold the record for the most years between Tour victories.

Fans of Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption will enjoy a similar story of heroism in the face of great danger and great odds in Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation by Aili and Andres McConnon. From the early history of European cycling and the tragedies Bartali faced, to his quiet anti-fascism and secret work with Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa to protect Jews, to his racing struggles in the Alps, this is an inspiring story of courage in the face of real and personal danger.

I am not a cycling fan and had never heard of Bartali before, but I found the story to be well-written and a compelling read. I wish there had been a little more detail about the Tour itself (for those of us who know so little about it) but the rest of the story more than makes up for any missing information. Photographs of Bartali and elevation maps of the courses help as well, but the real highlight for me was the wartime experiences and how he risked his life for Jews. But the authors also bring the world of cycling alive, and the human element is combined excellently with the sports world here. A very inspiring read. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
"Everyone in their life has his own particular way of expressing life's purpose - the lawyer his eloquence, the painter his palette, and the man of letters his pen from which the quick words of his story flow. I have my bicycle." -- Gino Bartali

It might be difficult to imagine a time before cars and airplanes made travel quick and easy, but in the earlier part of the century the bicycle was about the best many could hope for. It not only enabled them to go from place to place quickly but sometimes became necessary if you wanted a job. And with the rise of bicycles in Europe came cycling clubs and eventually races. One dominant Italian racer in the 1930s was Gino Bartali, whose incredible endurance on mountain slopes made him a formidable opponent and led to a 1938 victory in the Tour de France. But his racing career sputtered to an halt when war came, and he was put to use delivering messages on his bicycle... and later secretly transporting forged documents for Jewish families hiding from the police. That continued "training" helped when he later won the Tour de France again in 1948 at a time when he was thought "too old" (at 34!) and when his country was rocked by an assassination attempt and riots, and Bartali continues to hold the record for the most years between Tour victories.

Fans of Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption will enjoy a similar story of heroism in the face of great danger and great odds in Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation by Aili and Andres McConnon. From the early history of European cycling and the tragedies Bartali faced, to his quiet anti-fascism and secret work with Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa to protect Jews, to his racing struggles in the Alps, this is an inspiring story of courage in the face of real and personal danger.

I am not a cycling fan and had never heard of Bartali before, but I found the story to be well-written and a compelling read. I wish there had been a little more detail about the Tour itself (for those of us who know so little about it) but the rest of the story more than makes up for any missing information. Photographs of Bartali and elevation maps of the courses help as well, but the real highlight for me was the wartime experiences and how he risked his life for Jews. But the authors also bring the world of cycling alive, and the human element is combined excellently with the sports world here. A very inspiring read. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
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McConnon, AiliAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McConnon, AndresAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Let your virtues expand to fill this sad situation:
Glory ascends the heights by a precipitous path
Who would have known of Hector, if Troy had been happy?
The road to valor is built by adversity.
- Ovid, Tristia
Dedication
For our mother and late father
First words
At the steep foot of the Vars, on a windswept slope high in the French Alps, Gino Bartali lost his temper.
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If you're good at a sport, they attach the medals to your shirts and then they shine in some museum. That which is earned by doing good deeds is attached to the soul and shines elsewhere.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030759064X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:50 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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.

» see all 2 descriptions

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