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Random House LLC
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Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation Kindle Edition
|Length: 338 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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As WWII raged on in Europe, Bartali's best years of cycling competition were wiped away. However, instead of capturing the imagination of the public with his exploits in bike races, Bartali rode to save lives. With a plan concocted by a Roman Catholic priest, he began transporting forged documents in his bike frame between Florence and Assisi. These papers became new identities for Italian Jews, their papers for survival rather than transport to to concentration camps outside of Italy. Bartali protected those around him through these years, not disclosing his frequent absences from home to even his wife as anything more than training.
By the time WWII was over and cycling competitions began anew, Bartali's best days were behind him. However, his performance in 1948 is truly astounding. As Italy teeters on the brink of civil war, Bartali shocks his fellow racers with an epic ride through the Alps in what unimaginable weather conditions. By the time he is done conquering the mountains, he wins his second Tour de France in staggering fashion. To this day he holds the distinction for longest gap between Tour victories. In today's age of diet, conditioning and nutrition, Bartali's chain-smoking, red wine drinking will undoubtedly leave modern athletes shaking their heads a bit in disbelief --- I certainly wondered how he survived to even win the 1948 Tour.
Bartali remained reticent to discuss anything he did in WWII and it is a remarkable bunch of research the McConnon's do to uncover the emotional heart and soul of this story. I'm grateful for their devotion to this man and his story. The world is quite lucky to know Gino Bartali beyond just a cycling record.
Second, the Kindle edition works better than many other Kindle books, in that the illustrations are meshed into the the text just as they are in the print edition, and not placed at the end as happens in too many other Kindle books.
Third, the Audible edition, though not advertised as such, syncs with the Kindle app for iPad and the Kindle edition. Many Audible ediitons too, though they are advertised as not doing so.
Finally, this a great read. While it leaves out the details of some of Baratli's last great races against Fausto Coppi, the focus is on Bartali the man, someone who did live up to the ideal of a sports hero who is a good person, who values family and righteous living above all, eschews drugs (unless cigarettes and copious amounts of espresso are drugs) and while voluble, in the end has a good sense of who he is and his place in the world. I will take one Bartali against every single player in the NFL, MLB and NBA combined. He got into sports as a way out of a life of poverty, but he never forgot who he was, where he came from, and his place in the world. In this well written, quick reading book, you will read about a rare person who did his duty not only to his sport, but to humanity.