Road to Valor: A True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation

Aili and Andres McConnon. Crown, $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-59064-0
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)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 06/12/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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