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Paperback 'AGENT ZIGZAG: THE TRUE WARTIME STORY OF EDDIE CHAPMAN: LOVER, TRAITOR, HERO, SPY' Book

ISBN: 0747592837

ISBN13: 9780747592839

'AGENT ZIGZAG: THE TRUE WARTIME STORY OF EDDIE CHAPMAN: LOVER, TRAITOR, HERO, SPY'

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF A SPY AMONG FRIENDS A New York Times Notable Book of the Year A Washington Post Best Book of 2007 One of the Top 10 Best Books of 2007 ( Entertainment Weekly ) New...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A must read for every WW II spy buff!

I have an acquaintance who kept nudging me to get this book, so I finally did. WOW! An enthralling read from cover to cover. We are fortunate to have this brilliantly written chronicle of Eddie Chapman's outrageous WW II wartime activities. We get to know all the characters and follow as their lives intertwine in this thrilling, almost unbelievable tale of romance, bravado, larceny, more romance, deceit, courage, tactics, and dare I say.... even more romance (yes Eddie liked the ladies!). This book brings into sharp focus just how both the British and German intelligence corps went about their business of espionage during WW II, and gives a newfound appreciation for the spy game and how it's played. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Total satisfaction

What a pleasure to sit down with 'Agent Zigzag'. It makes you never want to pick up another spy novel in your life, so extraordinary and particular are the experiences of Zigzag, aka, Eddie Chapman. It's the little things that convince. Without giving anything away, who knew that the British Intelligence services wasted time looking for 'Bobby the Pig' when Bobby the pig was simply Chapman's pet pig mentioned when he was learning to send coded messages? Mcintyre's account occasionally slips towards mocking German Intelligence who certainly had their fair share of successes, but that takes little away from the sheer thrill of following Chapman back and forth between England, France and Germany. Certainly to this reader, it was an intriguing mixture of psychological study and page turning adventure.

Read the book before the movie comes out. . . .

World War II spy story of double agent Eddie Chapman reads better than the best of John Le Carre's novels (see my reviews here) The Spy Who Came In from the Cold Honourable Schoolboy Smiley's People Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy all the more amazing because it is true. In fact, many of the characters and methods of the British spy agency MI5 described by Le Carre are instantly recognizable in their real-life counterparts here. The book was made possible because of the opening of MI5 files, and has the advantage of verification by German communications unencrypted by the Enigma code-breaking team during the war that corroborate Chapman's turncoat confession and MI5's handling of him. Macinyre's brief and fascinating epilogue describes additional eyewitness accounts after early publication of the story in Britain and other venues before the American publication. Perhaps most interesting is that Chapman through his life was and remained an unrepentant criminal. He lied and stole as a way of life, as a habit, and seemingly as a hobby, ideal preparation for his role as a double agent when he could steal and take pay from two employers. His incontinence carried over to his personal life, as he seemed equally devoted to the woman who was the mother of his child in England while at the same time living with and confiding his double-crossing secret to a Norwegian resistance fighter (kept in the pay of the German secret service until the end of the war!), and carrying a torch for the woman he left behind (literally) while running from the police before the war. The reader waits in vain through the whole book for that turning point in his life when Eddie realizes the moral failure of his career and conscience and becomes a whole and better man. Surely such a hero in service to his country at its most pressing hour would become the pure knight we want him to be. He never did, living a long and financially rewarding life of crime after the war (relying more than once on his shadowy secret service references to keep him out of prison), always and unrepentantly Agent Zigzag. Such a story begs to be told on film in Grand Hollywood style, a role that a younger George Clooney could have carried to perfection. And a quick google turns up a listing for the Agent Zigzag movie in production (by Tom Hanks) for a 2010 release--no word yet on the casting. In the meantime, we can hope that the six hours of documentary footage of an elderly and dieing (and still unrepentant) Eddie Chapman shown to Macintyre will be edited and released.

Fascinating and true spy story that reads like a thriller

This highly entertaining and utterly gripping book is the true story of Eddie Chapman, a British petty criminal who ended up serving as an spy for both England and Germany during World War 2, and who was hailed as a hero by both sides. "Agent Zigzag" is the name that he was given by the British authorities who were aware of his status as a double agent and used him to feed misinformation to the Germans. Chapman's story is so full of adventure and ripe with coincidence that would be unbelievable if it were a novel. The story of how he comes to be an agent for the Germans is in itself worthy of a movie, taking us from a bank robbery in Scotland to prison - and eventual freedom - on the island of Jersey and then incarceration in the worst of Parisian prisons. Chapman emerges as a kind of James Bond character: a handsome and charming rogue with a penchant for adventure, for gambling, fine food and fast women. He is a fascinating mass of contradictions: utterly loyal to his friends even as he betrays them, a hopeless criminal who develops into a resourceful spy. But even the minor characters leap off the pages in this tale. The photographs are also well chosen and add to the story. Ben MacIntyre has amassed a vast amount of detail about not only Chapman, but his associates in both the German and English secret services. There is lots of interesting information about how those secret services functioned and what they achieved during the war. I was particularly riveted by the details about his training in spy techniques by the Nazis. However the book never gets bogged down in historical facts. Like the best biographies, it reads almost like fiction. I highly recommend this book.

An Enveloping Tale Of Espionage---And It's All True

Over and over through the years as I've read books about real life spies ("Comrade" Kim Philby and Sidney Reilly among others) I've been struck by how much more amazing these non-fiction stories were than those concocted as would-be pulp fiction thrillers. I've also been struck at how all the best spies were anything but good people, and they shared traits of cruelty and self-love that bordered on sociopathic narcissism. Ben Macintyre's biography of Eddie Chapman gives us a man who continues that dubious tradition. This page-turner is fact-filled and well-written and the life it tells of outdoes anything fiction has cranked out in quite a while. It's a very enjoyable read that presented the history of someone I personally had never heard of before I was introduced to him in this book. Eddie Chapman was no James Bond or even a Sidney Reilly, but he was one of the boldest, most brazen con men ever to serve a nation or a cause, and in so doing he found some redemption from the wrongs of his earlier life. From his days as a roguish charmer who infiltrated high society and first infatuated and later blackmailed rich women in the most callous and base ways imaginable, this safecracker, thief and extortionist found himself sprung by the Germans early in the war when he was then serving a fifteen-year sentence in an English prison in the Channel Islands. The charismatic Chapman, as liked by his German liberators as by those who'd known him back home, was then recruited by the Nazis as a spy who agreed to do their bidding and sabotage a British aircraft factory in Hertfordshire. He parachuted back onto his native soil during the busy Christmas season of 1942, only to prove his ultimate loyalty by going to the British and offering to in turn spy on the Germans. Ultimately faking the attack in Hertfordshire and returning to Germany through neutral Portugal, Chapman concocted a plan in which he would assassinate Adolph Hitler at a political rally. Although this plan obviously never came to fruition, Chapman bravely continued his double agency thru to the war's conclusion, an astounding feat of skill, luck and sheer courage all the more amazing considering the short lifespan of most other double agents. So skilled was he at his falsehoods that Chapman was befriended by a number of well-placed Nazi personnel, and was decorated for his service to the Third Reich. Eventually after a posting in German-held Norway, late in the war Chapman was again smuggled into the United Kingdom where in his most noble deed he saved countless lives by concocting false reports to the Germans on the accuracy of their V1 and V2 rockets. In his communiqués Chapman claimed these flying bombs were landing beyond their intended targets, causing the Luftwaffe to re-adjust them to locations the British deemed less populated and therefore safer. Incredibly after this the gifted liar and actor Chapman returned yet again to Nazi-controlled Norway, where he continued to be of service
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