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Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: The Most Notorious Double Agent of World War II Paperback – 2 Aug 2010


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Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: The Most Notorious Double Agent of World War II + Double Cross: The True Story of The D-Day Spies + Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story That Changed the Course of World War II
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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408811499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408811498
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Macintyre is a columnist and Associate Editor on The Times. He has worked as the newspaper's correspondent in New York, Paris and Washington. He is the author of seven previous books including Agent Zigzag, the story of wartime double-agent Eddie Chapman, which was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award and the Galaxy British Book Award for Biography of the Year 2008. Operation Mincemeat: The True Spy Story that Changed the Course of World War II, published in January 2010, is the thrilling true story of the greatest and most successful wartime deception ever attempted. He lives in London with his wife and three children.

(Photo credit: Jerry Bauer)

Product Description

Review

'This is the most amazing book, full of fascinating and hair-raising true life adventures ... it would be impossible to recommend it too highly' Mail on Sunday 'Superb. Meticulously researched, splendidly told, immensely entertaining and often very moving' John le Carre 'It is unlikely that a more engaging study of espionage and deception will be published this year' The Times 'Macintyre tells Chapman's tale in a perfect pitch ... Macintyre never misses a delightful, haunting or terrifying detail ... Buy it for dads everywhere but read it too' Observer

Book Description

The true wartime story of Eddie Chapman, lover, betrayer, hero and spy. Abridged edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
Ben Macintyre gained access to a vast amount of previously unavailable material about Agent Zigzag, before writing this book. The result is a fast-paced narrative describing the "amazing" (it really is) career of Eddie Chapman as safe-cracker, con-artist and heroic British double agent.

Chapman was captured by the Germans while in prison in Jersey (where he had committed further crimes to add to those he was on the run from on the mainland). He was able to convince his captors that he would make good spy material and before long found himself training at an elite spy school in France run by the German Secret Service, the Abwhehr (who turned out be an surprisingly un-Nazi bunch of aristocrats and eccentrics). The lifestyle at the chateaux was more like an exclusive gentleman's club, but the curriculum included bomb-making and sabotage as well as in-depth morse code and radio operation.

Possibly one of the most interesting aspects of this book is the relationship Chapman developed with his spymaster, Dr Grauman, an anti-Nazi German who ended up becoming a life-long friend of Chapman.

Chapman finds himself on active service for the Germans before being parachuted into England, where he promptly turned himself in to MI5 and was subjected to intense de-briefing and interrogation. Realising his worth, the British decided to use him as a double agent and returned him to Germany (via a remarkable sea-voyage to Lisbon), where the atmosphere had changed, and Chapman had to go through even more intensive interrogation before the Germans believed that he was reliable. Eventually ending up in German-occupied Norway, Eddie gained a huge amount of knowledge of German operations.
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Dec. 2007
Format: Audio CD
This highly entertaining and utterly gripping audio CD 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.

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.

The audio book is made up of 5 CDs and plays for about 6 hours. It is beautifully read and very clearly enunciated. While it is an abridged version of the book, it has been very skillfully adapted and (having also read the book) I can tell you that they've done an excellent job of maintaining all the key points.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kiki_Kaninchen on 6 Jan. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was my first Kindle purchase, so the new experience perhaps taints slightly any clear opinion of the book itself. That said, I did enjoy it and I read it within 4 days which is very quick for me.

Pros,
1) Very detailed research.
The author has obvious spent a long time trawling the exploits of Eddie Chapman to the smallest detail. Almost to the point where one has to question how he learnt of the exact facial expressions or spoken-word that Eddie Chapman had witnessed without being there. I hope he has not elaborated on the facts or memoirs he collected. The picture I get of Eddie Chapman from this book suggests that he could be responsible for any elaboration though. Credit to the author for this richly researched work and for weaving it together well. Plus the notes in the back are interesting for those wanting more but it isn't ideal on the Kindle to flick backwards and forward to these.

2) Well written.
It is well written and kept me interested but it felt like it began to drag towards the end slightly as the author was running out of steam or resources.

3) Character analysis.
I like the author's attempt at trying to understand who Chapman was, his personality, needs and psycho-makeup. From the resources he had, he manages to take you with him on not only Chapman's journey but also his own analytical journey of who Chapman was and who Agent Zigzag was. You find by the end that your own journey does not end with the last page but you continue to wonder who Chapman was, drawing your own conclusions and reflecting on that whole wartime period and generation. It encourages you to want to seek out more, especially similar tales of wartime spies. E.g. Agent Garbo.

Cons.
1) It began to drag a little towards the end.
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