Road to Valour : Gino Bartali - Tour De France Legend and World War Two Hero Hardback
ROAD TO VALOUR is the inspiring, against-the-odds story of Gino Bartali, the cyclist who made the greatest comeback in Tour de France history and continues to hold the record for the longest time-span between victories. Yet what ensured his permanent place in Italian hearts and minds were his actions in between, when he secretly aided the Italian Resistance during World War II.
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, becoming an international sports icon in the process.
But Mussolini's Fascists hijack his victory for propaganda purposes, derailing Bartali's career, and as the Nazis occupy Italy, Bartali undertakes dangerous missions 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 Nazi checkpoints under the guise of being a national hero in training. After the gruelling wartime years, Bartali fights to rebuild his career as Italy emerges from the rubble.
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 - the Tour de France.
Bartali's inspiring performance helps unite his fractured homeland and restore pride and spirit to a country still reeling from war and despair.
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, this 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.
Road to Valour is the breathtaking account of one man's unsung heroism and his resilience in the face of adversity.
An epic tale of courage, comeback and redemption, it is the untold story of one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 336 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date: 28/06/2012
- Category: Biography: sport
- ISBN: 9780297859994
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Review by Heduanna
This was great! I'm really not a sports fan, but this was such a great historical book, really well told (I'm getting kinda evangelistic about it, actually). Balanced, also. In an age of whiny, preening, overpaid sports stars, the story of a humble hero who risked his life to save others (at least 600 Jews, and since he worked so hard to conceal his efforts in the Resistance, quite possibly many more) is refreshing and inspiring.