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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and true spy story that reads like a thriller
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...
Published on 1 Dec 2007 by Julia Flyte

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars easy read for war story readers.
Interesting read,amAzing how criminal mind s can adapt to wartime situations ,regardless of danger of getting caught.the agent seems oblivious to capabilities of the answer,and possible end result.
Published 7 months ago by John hall


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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and true spy story that reads like a thriller, 1 Dec 2007
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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. My one criticism is that they should have incorporated more photographs into the accompanying booklet, which could easily have been done. They don't even tell you who the photos on the cover are, so for your reference the large image is Chapman after the war, the woman is Dagmar Lahlum (his Norwegian girlfriend), the man with the eyeglass is Colonel Robin Stephens (the commander of Camp 020) and the figure with the hat is Chapman again, later in life, posing in as SS uniform.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bucketful of adventure, 3 Sep 2007
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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. He also formed a relationship with a Norwegian girl, who became one of many loves of his life.

Chapman ended the war back in Britain and then resumed his sub-criminal career, becoming at one time crime correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, where he spent his time warning readers about people like himself.

This is a fascinating book which reads better than most fictional spy novels, containing far more revelations and insights than most authors would dare cram into one novel. By the end, the reader will have gained much affection for the heroic Chapman, while also wondering at how being both hero and scoundrel could be contained so abundantly in one person. I for one will miss my daily dose of Chapman exploits and am wondering what to read next to equal this book for vast quantities of adventure and bravado.
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39 of 42 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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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, 24 Jan 2007
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. In 1943, Colonel Tim Stephens of MI5 said of the story of Chapman: 'In fiction it would be rejected as improbable.' MI5 have only just released the material on Chapman, and Macintyre has full access to all of Chapman's manuscripts, letters and photographs. Wiely he dismisses much of this material as irrelevant. What emerges from this trove is an exhilarating true story of loyalty and betrayal, courage and cowardice, greed and lust unbridled, a crook who was also a hero. It is one of the most gripping untold stories of the Second World War. Bravo to Mr McIntyre for telling it with such aplomb!
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88 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why spy?, 11 Jun 2007
By 
R. Miles (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
So here we are in the morally ambivalent noughties looking back at the morally ambivalent forties. Increasingly we have learned that wars have heroes and villains on both sides (think Abu Ghraib; the Balkans; the Killing Fields; etc.) and that there are degrees of heroism and villainry. Perhaps because of the result, and the propaganda, and the Commando comics, we used to think of World War II as a simple good (Brits) v bad (Nazis) episode. Then we found out about Schindler, the Nazis' Mr Fixit who quietly set about saving Jewish families. Now we find the equally egregious Eddie Chapman: a violent English criminal who saved the lives of thousands of Londoners and helped to shorten the War. Like Schindler, pre-war, Chapman was an energetic chancer, perhaps surprised when the greater villainy of Nazism shook his sleeping conscience into action.

Ben Macintyre's characters positively leap off the page; most of all Chapman himself, plus his English and German handlers, and wonderfully-drawn cameos including the Enigma codebreakers, a rough-sleeping brainiac spymaster, a pair of hilariously world-weary London "minders", an explosive aristocrat, and a celebrity magician. Other assorted gangsters, molls and fellow agents, on every front of the war, seem to have had shared a love of partying hard as conflict raged around them - wartime images of austerity have tended to make us forget that, when they knew that any of them could die at any time, the risk-seekers chose to live life to the colourful max. Looking for a pattern to resolve the contradictions of Chapman's c.v., Macintyre repeatedly points to his phenomenal energy - it makes sense that a man with such an all-consuming love of life would pour this energy into dangerous pursuits. Whether, at any given moment, Chapman invested his energies in criminal "enterprises", libido, sabotage, or escapology, seemed rather to depend on how he made sense of the opportunities (and especially rewards) that presented themselves.

In amongst all the physical explosions, this book also explodes a number of tired conventions:

First, that all Nazis were sociopaths or psychopaths. We may already know that many Germans were hostile to Hitler but couldn't find a way to depose him directly. Yet Macintyre's fresh and empathetic account of Zigzag's German spymaster, Graumann / von Groning shows a quite different view of the Abwehr (think German MI5) than the one we might have expected; Graumann emerges as a cultured gentleman, possibly plotting deeper than his superiors realised, yet all the while flawed (like Chapman) by a tendency towards self-destruction.

There are other big and pleasant surprises: Best of all that, for all their efficiency with weaponry, the Nazis' espionage effort was, frankly, rubbish and no match for the very much greater ingenuity and applied skills of its British counterpart.

And again, although much has been written about the strategic influence of Bletchley and Enigma on the course of the War, I'd say that this book really shows, perhaps for the first time, the benefits of the Most Secret Sources findings for espionage work on the ground - effective fake-sabotage deceptions, the wholesale dumping of Nazi V-2 bombs, and the "feint" that cleared the way for D-Day to succeed. To modern eyes, the Zigzag handlers seem to have made unbelievably creative use of the Enigma eavesdroppings. How many of the modern world's risk-averse governments would have the balls to take such creative risks? Churchill earns our fresh respect with these disclosures.

There's also a fascinating, but subtly stated, commentary on the rather ugly undercurrent of class war within WWII British intelligence: The sense that some "gentlemen" didn't want Chapman, as an oik, to be allowed to succeed - and then, riotously, he succeeded for a long time in spite of this other, more pernicious, form of sabotage deployed against him. The pleasant surprise element here though is to find that the most senior handlers, Oxbridge men to the core, were his strongest supporters: They saw through to the "diamond in the rough" and rallied to protect him against the career saboteurs, to the extent that Churchill (himself a highly intelligent toff, of course) gave Zigzag a personal thumbs-up.

Among its many narrative surprises, and surprise connections, the book joyously saves until near the end an appearance by one I. Fleming (and his fictional alter ego) - deliciously also fixing the celluloid persona of a certain S. Connery to a real-world reference point. Riveting stuff, especially if, like me, you enjoy spotting when the worlds of fiction and reality overlap.

Actually this story is in many ways better than the best fiction - while it's self-evidently grounded in very thorough research, here, unlike so many other "history / biography" books, the facts never slow down the narrative drive. It's a thriller, none the worse (much better, in fact) for being a true story and it kept me keep reading well into the small hours to find out how it all ended. Get it! Then get it for all your friends, they'll thank you for it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fritz, 24 May 2008
By 
Mr. Ivor Hibbitt "Hibbo" (France) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Agent Zigzag, a Review by the
Cote d'Azur Men's Book Club

When one of the most wanted men in Britain escaped police by jumping through a Jersey hotel window he leaped into a new career, an Englishman whose deeds were to be heard and applauded by both The Fuehrer and Winston Churchill.

Hitler knew him as Little Fritz; the blue-eyed boy of the Abwher, the Nazi secret service and Churchill was impressed by his exploit, for he was spying for Britain, too, under the codename Agent Zigzag. Eddie Arnold Chapman was, a rising star in the Soho world of gangsters, and, in the twilight days of peace in early l939, a dark haired, handsome young man, destined it seemed, to spend many years behind bars.
He was a care rogue, a womaniser, a leading figure in the mob known as "The Jelly Gang" for their habit of using gelignite to blow safes. He could have been a prototype for 007 James Bond. His girlfriend was pregnant and he was with another woman when the police found him in the Channel Islands. He was captured, eventually and jailed, managed to rob the Governor and then the Germans invaded and he found himself in a Nazi prison camp outside Paris. He was already a bit of a linguist, having picked up basic German and French.
The harsh regime did not appeal so Chapman offered his services to the goose steppers; after lengthy Teutonic thought, the SS the Abwher decided he was genuine. They trained him to be one of their spies in England He graduated from a Nazi school for spies, in France with honours and made many friends, especially his boss, a somewhat aristocratic chap who kept him well supplied with cash. Chapman, naturally, quickly found that boss man was taking his cut from the thousands of Reich marks he was handing over. It takes a crook to know a crook.
The Cote d'Azur Men's Book Club thought Agent Zigzag by journalist Ben Macintyre a very entertaining read, a combination of Bond and Biggles. Fritz, parachuting at night and landing in a muddy Cambridgeshire field and naively banging on a farmhouse door and saying he had been in a car accident. MI5who turned him into their man picked him up. Money changed hands.
Fritz blowing up the De Havilland factory where the wonder plane, the Mosquito was made,
the staged attack being arranged by MI5 experts to fool the Germans.
The stubborn Englishness of the Editor of The Times in refusing to print an untruthful report, which would have fooled the enemy into believing Fritz, was doing good work. . Not a problem for the patriotic Daily Express!
Fritz still has that swashbuckling air about him, he returns to his German group leader and friend by sea, and seemingly reverts to the Nazi regime. Back in Germany and many more adventures, he finds love again in Norway with the beautiful Dagmar. Just as he arranged with MI5 to pay a good "pension" to his woman, so now he does the same for his new love, with the Germans!
He parachutes back into Britain with the brief to track down the new anti-U-boat weapon that is causing devastation to the wolf packs. Such a device only exists in the Nazi imagination, of course and the boffins think up a hilarious device that is pure Monty Python or The Goons, just to give the enemy something to think about. The secret weapon was, of course, the Bletchley Park code breaker.
Had the stakes not been so huge, Agent Zigzag would have been a biting satirical piece of work, yet, it is the gripping life story of courageous con man who reverted to type at war's end to thieving and safe breaking and, naturally, womanising. A crook, but our crook. As his MI5 boss said, "One of the bravest men I have ever met."
Oh, yes, and old Adolf probably thought much the same. Eddie Arnold Chapman was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class.
Chapman, born in the North East, was a charismatic crook made good by his courage and apparent indifference to personal suffering. He mixed with the great and the good but he was never a Gentleman, he was a spy who did a great service for his country in her time of need.

All, especially the ladies, loved him. It could have been men like Chapman who inspired a Naval Intelligence officer, one Ian Fleming, to create James Bond. Agent Zigzag did not have a licence to kill, officially, but he dreamed of assassinating Hitler!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a man!!, 11 Sep 2007
By 
Mr. LGD Williams (London) - See all my reviews
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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Kindle Edition, 10 Jun 2011
By 
S. Young - See all my reviews
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I won't repeat the many positive reviews of the content which are 100% accurate. The Kindle edition of this book is the best "conversion" I've read so far including inline pictures and extracts from newspapers of the time. The overall formatting makes this as easy to read as I would hope the book is.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read: gripping, great fun - and a true story, 12 Sep 2009
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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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh look at espionage, 5 Feb 2007
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This book was a most approachable war-book. Written with a light but highly informed touch it explored the complex character of a man of infinite resourch and cunning, not to mention raw courage coupled with a refined sense of fun and the ridiculous. The shortcomings of both the British and German secret services in 1939-1945 were displayed but the British did have the edge. That the double agent, Cameron, was highly decorated in Germany but ignored in the UK was a symbol of the remnants of a rigid class system which could not accept that a "common" man was capable of the exploits so faithfully reported. For sheer entertainment and un-put-down-ability, you could not do better.
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