The Sunday Edition: True heroes

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We love reading about heroes. Whether fictional or real, heroes represent people at their absolute best. Some are deemed heroic because they have done something courageous. Others are seen as heroes because they have taken human performance and achievement to new heights. And then there are everyday heroes, the quiet ones whose deeds go largely unrecognized but are nonetheless appreciated by a few.

This past week The Sunday Edition, as part of its continuing Beach Reads series, highlighted a book that focuses on a real-life hero who was exemplary in all the ways described above: Italian cyclist Gino Bartali. Canadian siblings and co-authors Aili and Andres McConnon delve into the intriguing mythology of Bartali, who won the Giro d'Italia three times and the Tour de France between 1936 and 1948. He was a hero to cycling fans around the world, but it was his defiance of Italian dictator Mussolini and the Nazi occupation that truly made him special.

road-to-valor-125.jpgIn Road To Valor: A True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis and the Cyclist who Inspired a Nation, the McConnons chronicle how, at the height of the war, Bartali risked his life to help Jewish people targeted by the fascist authorities in his native Florence by transporting fake ID papers hidden in the frame of his bike. He avoided suspicion by pretending that working as a courier was part of his training regimen. His fame was also an asset, as soldiers would often recognize him and ask him for autographs. The cyclist never told his family the dangerous work he was undertaking, not even his wife.

Politics and war prevented him from achieving his lifetime ambition of winning both the Giro and the Tour in the same year, but ultimately, Road to Valor demonstrates that Bartali, who died in 2000, ought to be remembered for much more than being a legendary cyclist.

Win some beach reads!

Tell us about a book featuring a great hero (fiction or non-fiction) you've really enjoyed recently in the comments section below. We'll be doing weekly draws for the books featured on The Sunday Edition. You can also enter our grand prize draw!