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Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: Lover, Traitor, Hero, Spy [Paperback]

Ben Macintyre
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)

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Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: The Most Notorious Double Agent of World War II Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: The Most Notorious Double Agent of World War II 4.6 out of 5 stars (270)
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Book Description

4 Jun 2007
One December night in 1942, a Nazi parachutist landed in a Cambridgeshire field. His mission: to sabotage the British war effort. His name was Eddie Chapman, but he would shortly become MI5's Agent Zigzag. Dashing and louche, courageous and unpredictable, the traitor was a patriot inside, and the villain a hero. The problem for Chapman, his many lovers and his spymasters was knowing who he was. Ben Macintyre weaves together diaries, letters, photographs, memories and top-secret MI5 files to create the exhilarating account of Britain's most sensational double agent.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 6th ptg edition (4 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747592837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747592839
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,586 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


'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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
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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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First-rate account of a double agent. 2 Sep 2007
This is tremendous book; well-researched and well written. The author, Ben Macintyre deals with Eddie Chapman as though he was one of Chapman's Security Service handlers; questioning everything, giving praise where appropriate but never quite trusting him. He describes Chapman as `a shameless liar', sentiments with which I fully agree. There is no doubt that Chapman did a good service for his country since he convincingly bluffed the Germans but he `tried it on' with everybody he encountered and I wonder which way he would have jumped if the allies had lost the war?

A gripping account of England's most famous double agent.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a man!! 11 Sep 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are times when reading this book, when one would be forgiven for thinking that this is a work of fiction. The stories come thick and fast and for this reason alone it is well worth a read. The really interesting piece, I found, was the description of the relationship that developed between the spy and his handlers. Complex, confused, ever changing and fascinating as each fought to keep the upper hand in an dynamic and unpredictable environment. Well worth the read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Extraorinary true story of WW2 agent, double agent

Eddy Chapman was the only Englishman to win an Iron Cross from Hitler for his services to German espionage - but was working for MI5 the whole time.

Thoroughly engrossing, a real-life romp: well-written, exciting and a whole side of war details I never imagined.

Even if you are not a war history nut (I'm not; the recommendation came from a friend who is) this is fascinating and a good read.

Would make an excellent holiday book: its enjoyable, you can pick it up and it doesn't need huge concentration (that is not meant as a criticism)
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic 24 Jan 2007
By barry
Having an extensive library on the Double Cross Operation I did not think there was anything new to say about the legendary Eddie 'The Biscuit'(so called for his love of these then new snacks) Chapman. He wrote his own book and had books written about him. And there was a fine film about him. Mr Mcintyre has shown there is always room to tell a great story again. True he adds nothing to what I knew and in many instances has almost copied from earlier works. No matter say I. He tells the story with verve and in a lively style, that reminds me of of the doyen of spy writers, the great Chapman Pincher. So this is the story. Eddie Chapman: rogue, gymnast extraordinaire (able to bend himself backwards to gain access to safes) criminal, confidence trickster, hero to both sides, lover to many beautiful women I(and so it is alleged some men) and betrayer of all. At the start of the Second World War, Chapman was recruited by the German Secret Service. He was a highly prized Nazi agent. He was also a secret spy for Britain, alias Agent Zigzag. "Agent Zigzag" is the untold story of Britain's most extraordinary wartime double agent. Genuinely courageous, able to withstand withering interrogations from both sides by withdarwing into himself, in the style of Gandhi, Chapman was a dashing, charming and fiercely intelligent man whose talents led to a single end: breaking the rules. He wore loud suits, drove fast cars, and had a woman in every port. Yet, at the same time he was, in his own way, loyal to his lover and their child. This was a man who courted contradictions as much as he courted adventure. 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 ended, and the other began. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Stranger than fiction
The comprehesive bibliograhy attests to the factual nature of 'Agent Zigzag. Otherwise the reader might regard the story as farfetched fiction. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Peter Fernie
5.0 out of 5 stars AgentZigzag
This book arrived along with Double Cross at exactly when I was told to expect it. Again this is an entertaining and informative read by an expert author.
Published 13 days ago by Barbara Horne
5.0 out of 5 stars agent zigzag
delivery and service excellent. brilliant book will make sure family and friends read. and hope they enjoy

thank you very much
Published 14 days ago by chris
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, but not my usual fare.
People with an interest in war stories will probably enjoy this, but I found it hard going. The author does a good job of making the reader admire loveable rogue Eddie Chapman.
Published 14 days ago by Anna Buttimore
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern re-writing of a true story from WW2
Unlike the largely unproven or fictitious exploits of Sidney Reilly who preceded Chapman in the first World War, those of Chapman are better documented and recognised. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Andy_atGC
5.0 out of 5 stars If it were fiction, you wouldn't believe it
An engrossing story which gave an insight into the workings of both nation's spy networks. Eddie is a complex character.
Published 1 month ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars really interesting
I'm not very good at reading history books but this was excellent and really interesting. Well worth a read even if history books rant your thing.
Published 1 month ago by stephanie gullon
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good read
Was gripped all the way through. I then went on to read other books by Ben Macintyre which I also thoroughly enjoyed
Published 1 month ago by LS WRIGLEY
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
most amazing true story and credit to our great British past.. eddie chapman a true hero and such a shame there is not more footage that exists
Published 1 month ago by patrick thompson
4.0 out of 5 stars linny king
Had this to read for a Book Club choice and really enjoyed it..Eddie Chapman came across as a likeable rogue and enjoyed learning of all his exploits,as a soy in WW 2. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. L. A. King
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