Agent Zigzag

Agent Zigzag

A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

Book - 2007
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Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began.

In 1941, after training as a German spy in occupied France, Chapman was parachuted into Britain with a revolver, a wireless, and a cyanide pill, with orders from the Abwehr to blow up an airplane factory. Instead, he contacted MI5, the British Secret Service. For the next four years, Chapman worked as a double agent, a lone British spy at the heart of the German Secret Service who at one time volunteered to assassinate Hitler for his countrymen. Crisscrossing Europe under different names, all the while weaving plans, spreading disinformation, and, miraculously, keeping his stories straight under intense interrogation, he even managed to gain some profit and seduce beautiful women along the way.

The Nazis feted Chapman as a hero and awarded him the Iron Cross. In Britain, he was pardoned for his crimes, becoming the only wartime agent to be thus rewarded. Both countries provided for the mother of his child and his mistress. Sixty years after the end of the war, and ten years after Chapman's death, MI5 has now declassified all of Chapman's files, releasing more than 1,800 pages of top secret material and allowing the full story of Agent Zigzag to be told for the first time.

A gripping story of loyalty, love, and treachery, Agent Zigzag offers a unique glimpse into the psychology of espionage, with its thin and shifting line between fidelity and betrayal.

From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York : Harmony Books, 2007.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307353405
Call Number: 940.5486 MACINTYRE
Characteristics: p. ; cm.
Subjects: Chapman, Eddie.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Secret service -- Germany.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Secret service -- Great Britain.
Spies -- Great Britain -- Biography.
Spies -- Germany -- Biography.
Espionage -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
Espionage -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th century.


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Apr 21, 2019

This was a great read. Highly recommend.

Aug 05, 2017

True story, worth a read if you are interested in; things English from a while back, or wwII (for younger readers of this review, be advised, ww is not same as ) or espionage, etc. Like 'Three day road' (Joseph Boyden), or 'All the light we cannot see' (Anthony Doerr) but not made up (!). As a committed non-fiction reader this book just reinforces my belief that the real world is just so much more interesting and relevant than fiction. I was somewhat put off by the cover and almost did not read it but was glad I did. This book was a good read, a tad dry. (Wondered if Chapman was a psychopath but this was not mentioned.) Real story, amazing how the author pulled it together 60 years after the fact.

Jul 14, 2015

Ben Macintyre writes in a very smooth style, making you feel like you are reading a novel, except that the action has really happened. Given the meticulous bibliography, as a layperson, I trust that the narrative corresponds to the facts. Even so, I did spot two fairly glaring mistakes in his books, but they do not affect the main narrative.

One regards the code breakers who enabled British (and American) services to keep a close eye on German thought. It is amazing that no mention at all is made of the main mathematical genius who made it all possible, that is Alan Turing. The book seems recent enough that it should have had access to the full story. By the way, the decryption was not as walk-in-the-park as Ben describes it - changes in the Enigma machines created several bumps, even though the main hurdles were with the Navy codes.

The other mistake is in the statement that Stalin helped the Greek insurrection against the king that the Brits imposed on them after the war and that was crushed quite violently by Britain and America. As a matter of fact, Stalin broke with Yugoslavia's Tito (after which "Titoist" was as damning a "sin" as "Trotskyte" in orthodox Soviet-style communism), precisely because Tito insisted on providing aid to the Greeks, against strict orders. Stalin took Yalta at face value, and Greece was part of Britain's "sphere of influence", hence off limits.

Mar 25, 2013

It's an interesting story, and I was convinced that the author did his research. Given the rather breathless and admiring approach, though, this might have made a better fact-based novel.

mikeyppl Apr 20, 2012

Eddie Chapman is quite a character. I love books like this that introduce you to people who played a vital role in WWII but whom you've probably never heard of.

williamslstaff May 30, 2011

Riveting read
good for a guy-read recommendation

Mar 09, 2011

Sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction; a rollicking good story about a resourceful rogue in wartime.

Jun 29, 2010

What a wonderful read! And it is a true story - that is what really kept me hooked, I couldn't put it down and my wife felt the same way.


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