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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,061 Ratings  ·  166 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
ebook, 336 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Crown
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Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Patrizia Galli
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Non sono mai stata una grande appassionata di ciclismo, eppure questo libro va al di là dello sport per soffermarsi sull’Uomo e sulla Storia, per illuminarci su anni assolutamente bui della storia italiana attraverso un racconto meraviglioso.
Questa biografia di Gino Bartali, concentrata in particolare negli anni della Seconda guerra mondiale, va ben oltre i successi agonistici di “Ginettaccio”, tanti e prestigiosi, conquistati con lo sport un tempo ritenuto nazionale, seguito dalle folle alla st
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book about cycling in Italia and France in pre-war, during and after World War II. It gave me a lot of insight into origins of cycling itself which I did not fully expect. It is about the history of Bartali but the writers did a wonderfull job of providing a lot of background stories which only added to this book.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, italian, sports
Great true story of an athlete who stood up to the Nazis by helping the Jews. He also won the Tour de France (more than once) and the Giro (Italy's bike race). Great story especially if you're a fan of the Tour de France.
David Miller
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a truly remarkable story that is likely to be of most interest if you are a cyclist or a Jew - and particularly if you are a Jewish cyclist ...
Doug Anderson
inspiring and a little boring, then inspiring again. but a great story.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the compelling story of Gino Bartoli, an Italian who lived a humble childhood, and then went on to win the Tour de France twice. The description of his assistance of those persecuted during World War II, particularly his work as a courier of identity papers which he hid in his bicycle frame, was very uplifting.
Rachel Cantor
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't like non fiction books - this one read like fiction. True page turner, incredible, true story.
Giles Knight
Wow!! What a story.

I am a fan of cycling autobiographies and have a keen interest in WW2 history but have never been a huge biography lover. That said, how can a book fail to impress when telling this story!

I knew little abaout Gino Bartali before reading this, for me he was another name in the record books of a sport I love but from an era I knew little about.

Born to a poor but loving family in a small town outside Florence, Gino worked hard to earn the promise of his own bicycle as a boy. Once
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, spiritual
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
Jedi Kitty
Wow! An amazing story, and interesting history. Loved learning more about the Tour de France, cycling, WWII in Italy and the role Gino played in history. The climbs of the Tour are truly epic and exciting(even to the layman). In comparison, Gino is exceedingly modest about his role as a courier of counterfeit identity documents to protect Jews in Italy under German occupation. I didn't give it a full five stars because the writing didn't always shine. This stood out to me after reading "Where Me ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Che qua non trovi il gel di Cristiano Ronaldo ma la strada sterrata da valicare e la dignità di un campione che ha lasciato traccia di sè non solo sui pedali. Che lo sport è tanto altro oltre alle prime 40 pagine della Gazzetta dello Sport purtroppo dedicate solo al calcio.
Samer Lawand
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing history of how a cyclist used his god given talent to do good during the world war. I absolutely enjoyed this book and the heroism of many who sacrificed so much for others.
Dec 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting biography of Gino Bartali, Italian cycling legend.
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very inspiring!
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started and finished this book while traveling yesterday. It was amazing. This is such an inspiring story of will and bravery. I highly recommend this.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent narrative on the life of an athlete. The authors do not go out of their way to portray the life of early cyclists as “angels” and that is a good thing.

The book does get slow post world war 2 and feels a bit anti climactic in my opinion. But, the major negative and reason for the 4/5, is that at times it was difficult to recall the significance of characters and events because they were only mentioned a handful of times, and these mentions and descriptions were separated by
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating portrait of not just the great bike rider but of Italy before, during and after WW2, and the place of cycling and bike racing in that changing country.

Very interesting for me reading this soon after The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - which covers the same period and the Berlin Olympics from the perspective of US athletes - Road to Valour shows what life was like for the athletes and citizens in fascist-controlled Italy.

Given Bartali's length of domination, plus his extrao
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is right on the cusp of being a 5 star book. I wish there were more photos included. It is a well written and fantastically well documented research piece that reads as an exciting story. Maybe less exciting for non-cyclists, but I imagine still pretty interesting. The WWII storyline is interesting because in our distilled out modern era we mostly hear about the Nazi Germany, Japanese, or US involvement. It's a good reminder of how this war affected nearly everyone, both during and after. E ...more
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