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

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  611 ratings  ·  111 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 vict
ebook, 336 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Crown (first published 2012)
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Well Researched, Inspiring

“Road to Valor” is a heartwarming story. I’m not someone who’s interested in bicycle racing but I love history. This book has both. Gino Bartali was born at a time, 1911, when the bicycle craze was at its peak. Even as a small boy all he seemed to think about was riding a bicycle as fast and for as long as possible and he was good at it. Of course so were many other Italian boys but not all of them had Gino’s discipline and drive. Prior to World War II he began making h
Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy,the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation, by Aili and Andres McConnon was a page-turner for me. Once I began it, I couldn’t put it down. I was mesmerized and captivated by the compelling, intense, and true story of Gino Bartali, an Italian cyclist. But, he was much more than that, as it turned out, as I read with hardly a break between pages.

Born of poverty, in the small town of Ponte a Ema, in 1914, he would eventually become larger than life, a
I had not heard of Gino Bartali before reading this book, I do not follow the Tour de France and know very little about the sport. I read this because I always enjoy books about WWII and I really enjoyed this one. I usually read historical fiction and was concerned that this book might be a boring but Bartali is a larger than life character that was so fascinating to read about that I was not bored once through the entire book.

The authors do a great job of beginning the story with Bartali's stru
This was a book which I was eager to read following its 2012 publication. As a long time fan of road cycling's Grand Tours and the many fascinating characters who've risen to the top of that sport over the years, as well as always having an interest in history, especially that of the 20th century which is within living memory (or at least perhaps only at one generation's distance), I thought that this intriguingly titled book would be a certain winner. Please forgive my lengthy comments here - I ...more
Tommaso Auerbach
This book is truly one of the most touching novels I have ever read. McConnon brings us back to the WW II era to a small town in Italy were we meet our main character, a boy in poverty who grows up to be one of the greatest Italian cyclist of all time. McConnon shows us what it was like being around people who were oppressed by Hitler and how one man could make a significant difference to help the non-aryan people by simply riding his bike. We follow Gino Bartali (the main character) throughout ...more
Firstreads giveaway: The title definitely intrigued me as I am bound to read anything to do with WWII. It's interesting to learn about other aspects of that particular time period, especially since my knowledge of Italy's involvement is limited. All in all, I found this account of Bartali's life to be very thorough and quite engaging at times. Will I read more about Bartali specifically? Probably not. However, it was eye-opening and I recommend it to anyone wanting a new perspective on Italy dur ...more
David Patneaude
I picked up this book thinking UNBROKEN, a WWII/world class athlete/hero story I loved. And then you throw in the Italy setting, and I was hooked. But the war in ROAD takes place largely off-scene, and Gino Bartali's heroics, unlike Louis Zamperini's, are confined for the most part to athletics (in his case, cycling), and the McConnons are no Laura Hillenbrand. So all in all, the tale doesn't match up. Still, the parts of the book devoted to Gino's cycling achievements are engrossing and the ach ...more
I have never heard of Gino Bartali until I read this book. What I found more fascinating then Gino was about the Tour de France and the job he had as a bike messenger during the war to help the Jews. Gino was alright but at times his competitive nature overshadowed him and made him have a bit of a bad attitude. Not that I am saying that competition is a bad thing as I can get really competitive when it comes to certain things but there is a line to draw and you have to know when to turn it off a ...more
Gino Bartali was a hero in many ways. He won the Tour de France in 1938, during the war he used his fame to carry messages and identification materials for the archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa to a secret network that saved Jews. He also saved a family of Jews who were friends in a cellar in Florence.

Truth is stranger than fiction. In the 1948 Tour de France, all think Gino is too old and will lose. Then, there is an assassination attempt on the head of the Communist party (Tog
An interesting look at an elite cyclist in the 1930s and 1940s who resisted the Nazis in Italy and helped protect Italian Jews. The book was well-researched and held my interest, but the writing wasn't great. In an attempt to make it seem more real, the authors were heavy handed with the descriptions, and sometimes I wished they would just shut up and tell me what happened.

I learned a couple of interesting things from this book. First, was the role the Catholic priests and nuns played in protec
This is an inspiring book; the story of how a sports 'hero' can go beyond himself and make a difference in the lives of others that he doesn't even know. As someone who likes to cycle, this story had appeal to me from that aspect, but it quickly takes on a deeper meaning and reality. Not being aware of the history of Fascist Italy of the '30s and the oppression and treatment of the Jews in WWII Italy, it was an eye-opener for me. The Epilogue has two quotes that summarize the "meaning" of Bartal ...more
This book would make a great movie. I think I will amuse myself by dreaming up movie titles and replaying the race scenes in my head: over the Alps through snow and sleet, with descents down hairpin turns through mud and gravel. Imagine the impact of seeing Bartali's closest rival in the 1948 tour, Louis Bobet, crossing the finish line "utterly defeated, his face... covered in mud, except for the tiny furrows where tears had fallen down his cheeks."
A beautifully written, and well researched book describing the incredible life story of Gino Bartali. This book has found a permanent place on my shelf.
Jodi Bowman
This story is about the journey of Italian cyclist, Gino Bartali, from his impoverished childhood, to his cycling career and his involvement an underground group that aided Jews during the Holocaust. It is much more than a cycling story. The authors discuss Mussolini and his Fascist government in pre war Italy, Italy 's involvement in the war and the Nazi occupation. Bartali career was interrupted by the war but his job as a messenger allowed him to stay on his bicycle. After the war ended, Gino ...more
R.J. Heller
One person putting themselves above the situation of world events, to do the right thing. This book is the story of a famed Italian cyclist who won the hearts of his countrymen, both on the roads of Italy and France...and on the roads of mankind during World War II. Putting himself and his family at risk, Gino Bartalli saved the lives of Jews in worn torn Italy. Smuggling counterfeit documents for those trying to escape and giving his own home to shelter a Jewish family...this is a story that de ...more
In recent years I have loved several books on sporting topics: " The Boys Of Summer", "The Blind Side", "Friday Night Lights" and more recently "Into The Silence". What they all share with each other and with "Road To Valour" is their attempt to deal with sport as an integral part of life. The narrative of the various sporting events is part of a much wider context and the personalities involved are presented with the skill of the most consumate writer. We all know the story, but we want to hear ...more
"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 sometim
A captivating read, simply written, about Italian cyclist Gino Bartali's uphill struggle (hee hee). Transporting fake identity papers (in the tube of his bicycle) for Jews hiding in Italy during the German and Fascist crackdown during WWII, the reader gets little bits of history on Italian politics, the Tour de France, and the Catholic church's role in aiding persecuted Jews. The lite history lessons frame tales of Bartali's tumultuous cycling career.

An unexpected lesson here is the extreme fic
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 lif ...more
Much More Than an Athlete's Tale ...

This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free advance copy of the book.

The stories just keep coming. As time keeps distancing World War II to the point in which younger generations barely understand its staggering significance to the history of mankind, more and more fresh stories of extraordinary human endeavor during those dark years assures me that that period of time will never fade completely. ROAD TO VALOR deviates from th
This biography of Gino Bartali is in a similar format to Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Here was a tremendous athlete that is probably relatively unknown to the modern American public. Yet, his life story is one worth telling. His athletic career was greatly affected by World War II, not just the interruption of his cycling, but how he endured the hardships placed upon him and his family.

While I've read many books about World War II, I don't know if I've
I don't believe that athleticism creates heroes. It creates celebrities, warts and all. If you were among the folks who enjoyed a dose of ripe, self-righteousness at Lance Armstrong's troubles writ large, this book is a great read. Gino Bartoli, in the Road to Valor, wins the Tour de France twice- separated by 10 years that include WWII. I believe Bartoli is a genuine hero and this book tells his story. During the war, Bartoli helped to thwart the Nazis in Italy. He rode his bicycle between citi ...more
Kevin McAllister
Judging by the picture on the front cover and the synopsis on the back cover of this book I was expecting a story about a beloved athlete and true World War Two Hero. As a result I was a bit disappointed after reading it. As as an athlete, yes, winning The Tour de France 10 years apart was a great accomplishment. But for me, Bartlai came off as a prima donna and a bad sportsman. If the Italian people weren't in such depurate need of a hero, they provably would have seen him for the sore looser h ...more
This story tells the story of Gino Bartali a pre-WWII Tour De France winner. Dictated to by Mussolini and the fascists before the war during the aar he helped catholic priests and moks smuggle fake papers to help jewish families in Italy survive under the guise of training runs. Given up as too old during the 1948 Tour De France he launched two memorable attacks in the mountains to win the Tour for a second time. Excellent read that even a non cycling fan will enjoy.
Sep 02, 2012 Caitlin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cyclists, WWII buffs
Recommended to Caitlin by: Sports Basement
Shelves: history, cycling
When I heard about this book it was as "the story of a pro-cyclist who worked for the Italian resistance, smuggling documents in his bike frame to help the Jews during WWII." In reality, that is a very small aspect of the book. On the whole, it's the story of a cyclists' life and career, the history of competitive cycling, and Fascist Italy during WWII. These elements were all woven together skillfully, but the real tempting nugget of Bartali's work with the resistance was brief and there was li ...more
Read the full review at A Book and A Review:

My opinion: AMAZING STORY! I read frequently on WWII. Lately, I have come across a large number of books that depict the personal stories of some of the civilian heroes of that war, which I have been sucking up like there is no tomorrow! This book was incredibly well research and painting a vivid picture of the characters involved.

So, why 4 stars out of 5? This book was 254 pages of "readable" material. A small bit told of Bartali
Incrível história de um grande ciclista italiano. Atleta tenaz e de grande talento, Gino Bartali venceu a maior e mais difícil prova do ciclismo internacional - o Tour de France - duas vezes; além de ter salvo a vida de centenas de pessoas perseguidas pelo regime fascista/nazista transportando identidades falsas para que famílias judias não fossem levadas para campos de concentração.

Um livro espetacular não só por contar uma grande história, mas também por apresentar um panorama do ciclismo pro
This is a good biography of a man who one the Tour de France twice with a 10 year gap between wins. The McConnon's portrayal of Gino Bartali is sympathetic and knowledgeable. It seems, by all accounts, that he was known for his grouchiness by the press, but this brother and sister team got past the official records of him and delved into his life, where he was well-loved and revered by many. In fact, Bartali became part of an underground system in Italy during WWII that was able to help many Jew ...more
Lacey Galicia
I won this from a first reads giveaway. I enjoy reading anything to do with WW2 and looked forward to reading this. In the end I realized Bartali was not how I first imagined he would be. While winning ten years apart is amazing, he was more of an errand boy; he did not actually fight. The Cardinal was the mastermind who sent Bartali on these quests and in my mind is the real hero. Yes, Bartali was risking is life doing so, but so was the Cardinal, who could have chosen anyone to deliver the mes ...more
Ken Brown
This book is a biography about an Italian cycling hero of the 30s and 40s, Gino Bartali. However it is more than a biography because we learn a lot about conditions in Italy during the 1930s and 40s.

In 1943 Bartali was recruited by the Archbishop of Florence in a dangerous effort to help save Jews from the Nazis and Fascists. Given the failure of the Vatican to provide humanitarian assistance to Jews during the war (my opinion, but well documented) it is nice to know that a lot of individual cle
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