Bartali’s Bicycle


Gino Bartali was a champion road race cyclist in the 1930s.  In 1938 he reached the pinnacle of his sport by winning the Tour de France.  However, he was increasingly alarmed by the rise of Fascism in his country and in Germany.  He wanted to do more to help the thousands of Jewish people in Italy being persecuted by Mussolini’s fascists.  He was invited to join a resistance movement working to help the Jews trying to flee the country.  Gino was eager to help and he used his bicycle to hide false identity papers to ensure that they got into the right hands.  He also used his celebrity to ‘hide in plain sight’ and divert attention away from the resistance fighters.

It is estimated that Gino helped over 800 Jews escape Italy.  Nothing was known of his activities until after his death in 2000.  His humble role as a quiet hero serves as a shining example and inspiration.  Bartali’s Bicycle is a superb picture book tribute to him.

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Bartali’s Bicycle

The True Story of Gino Bartali, Italy’s Secret Hero

Megan Hoyt, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

(Quill Tree Books)

Bartali’s Bicycle is a gripping picture book biography about Gino Bartali, an Italian cycling champion and unsung hero.  Having reached the pinnacle of his sport by winning the Tour de France in 1938, Gino became increasingly concerned about the rise of Fascism in Germany and Italy.  He was particularly horrified at the treatment of Jewish people.
Gino secretly worked with the Italian resistance movement.  His work helped hundreds of Jews and others escape persecution.  Hiding false identity documents within the frame of his bicycle, he ensured they got into the hands of a network assisting Jews trying to flee the Nazis.
Bartali’s acts of heroism reached beyond his celebrity to demonstrate selflessness, humility, courage, and compassion.  He was quoted as saying that “Some medals are pinned to your soul, not your jacket.”  Bartali demonstrated that a quiet hero is someone who strives without concern for fame or fortune. Despite his great achievements in his sport, his greatest achievement was unknown until after his death in 2000.   Furthermore, Gino was a humble citizen who demonstrated his support for the rights of others in a time and place that was extremely dangerous.
Gino’s heroism was by choice his secret and his is a shining example of what it means to be a true and enduring champion.
Bookwagon is pleased to stock several books about sporting heroes.  Readers may wish to check out Super Sports Stars Who Are Changing the Game.
New York Public Library Book of the Year.


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