Format Hardcover
Publication Date 09/03/24
ISBN 9781639367221
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 336

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Two Wheels to Freedom

The Story of a Young Jew, Wartime Resistance, and a Daring Escape

Arthur J. Magida

The extraordinary true story of a young Jewish art student who not just survived but resisted and saved hundred of lives—all while retaining his infectious zeal for life.

Though Cioma Schonhaus was only 11 years old when the Nazis first came to power, his cleverness and resourcefulness eventually made him an unlikely hero and bon vivant. As a young adult staying one step ahead of the S.S., Cioma would dine in swanky restaurants and frequent trendy bars and have plenty of romances—all while sabotaging weapons in the munitions factory where he worked. He even bought a sailboat and taught himself how to sail.

These hijinks never distracted Cioma from a deeper mission. Trained as an artist, Cioma’s masterfully forged fake ID's ensured that several hundred Jews survived the war. When he learned the Gestapo was closing in on him, Cioma masterminded a singularly daring escape: spending a month biking to Switzerland, he became the only person to cycle his way out of the Third Reich.

Beautifully written and deeply satisfying, Two Wheels to Freedom is a story of survival and resistance unlike any other. Arthur J. Magida captures Cioma’s exuberance, charm, spunk, and courage. His was a life lived with wonderment, one that the author sets seamlessly against the horrors of history while never losing sight of Cioma’s “wily ways, his zest for life, and his appetite for improbable adventures—all of them delighting in the magic that’s beyond the ordinary and the staid.” Two Wheels to Freedom is an exhilarating read that by turns illuminates and inspires.

Arthur J. Magida has been nominated for a Pulitzer and won multiple awards. His last two  books—Code Name Madeleine (“absolutely gripping,” “tightly plotted”) and The Nazi Séance (“an astonishing story, brilliantly told,” “haunting, vivid”)—are optioned for films. He’s been a contributing correspondent to PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, senior editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times, and editorial director for Jewish Lights publishing. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  

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Endorsements & Reviews

Praise for Arthur Magida

"Noor Inayat Khan is a woman for our age: a true heroine who faced down evil when she saw it and sacrificed her life for the cause of freedom. Arthur J. Magida’s biography is both a thrilling spy story and a moving portrait of her courage." Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire
"An intimate and compelling portrait of the most extraordinary undercover agent of World War II. Noor Inayat Khan’s story is one of courage, heroism, and tragedy: Magida’s fascinating biography delves deep into the life of this devout Sufi woman whose moral imperative was to fight fascism at all costs—even if that meant putting herself in mortal danger." Giles Milton, author of Soldier, Sailor, Frogman, Spy
"Vivid and engaging." Library Journal
"What a story this is. Magida tells it very well." Jon M. Sweeney, America Magazine
"A missing chapter of the annals of World War II. Magida highlights the still underappreciated role women played in defeating Hitler. A rare and rich treat!"  Kati Marton, author of True Believer