On August 4, 2012, Road to Valor landed in the top ten list of Canadian nonfiction bestsellers for the fifth week in-a-row. Road to Valor is the true story of Gino Bartali, the Italian cycling legend and secret World War II hero and it was written by siblings Aili and Andres McConnon, the 2012 winners of the NIAF Mazzei Award in Thought Leadership. Bartali became a household name in Italy in the 1930s and 1940s when he won the Tour de France twice and the Giro d’Italia three times. But what most people don’t know is how Gino Bartali spent World War II.
In 1943, when the Germans occupied Italy, the Cardinal of Florence Elia Dalla Costa asked Gino Bartali to participate in a network to help Jews in central Italy who needed food, shelter and identity documents. Despite the significant risk to himself and his family (Jews at this time were declared enemies of state and anyone helping them could face imprisonment or deportation), Bartali stomached his fear and decided to help. Traveling throughout Tuscany and Umbria, Bartali would transport false identity documents hidden in the frame of bicycle for Jews in hiding who needed them.
Bartali’s courage did not stop there. He also sheltered the Goldenberg family of four in an apartment he financed with his cycling winnings. Giorgio Goldenberg, who was eleven at the time of the German occupation, made the following comment about Gino Bartali’s role: “There is no doubt whatsoever for me that he saved our lives. He not only saved our lives but he helped save the lives of hundreds of people. He put his own life and his family’s in danger in order to do so. In my opinion, he was a hero and he is entitled to be called a hero of the Italian people during the Second World War.”
Road to Valor has received rave reviews from Sports Illustrated, Reuters, the Boston Globe among various other publications throughout the U.S. Co-authors Aili and Andres McConnon have been interviewed about Road to Valor on NPR, CBS and ABC radio and their affiliates in over thirty states and outside of the United States, they have been featured on CBC radio (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) in Canada, ABC radio (Australian Broadcast Corporation) in Australia and Newstalk Ireland. Read Road to Valor to discover the full story of Gino Bartali, whose legendary story reflects the Italian soul and character. www.roadtovalorbook.com.
By Aili and Andres McConnon