Zigzag: The incredible wartime exploits of double agent Eddie Chapman Paperback – 15 Jan 2007
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Nicholas Booth's engossing account of Eddie Chapman's exploits is a gripping page turner... an excellent portrait of this slippery real-life agent and conman. (David Stafford, author of Churchill AND Secret Service)
Nicholas Booth's compelling and well-researched biography. (Richard Basseett, London Evening Standard)
About the Author
Nicholas Booth is a writer and broadcaster. For ten years, he worked as a journalist, starting his career with the Observer, and ending up as technology editor on The Times. He lives in Cheshire.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book chronicles, in entertaining fashion, the extraordinary exploits of this most unlikely of war heroes. And it does this in a totally non-judgemental way. It is one of those rare finds: a real page turner that is both well written and easy to read, and obviously well researched. Clearly, the author had privileged access to Eddie's widow and recently de-classified material, unearthing vivid new material. If you like dusty old biographies, this isn't the book for you.
What I particularly liked was the pace of the narrative and its no-nonsense depiction of the seemingly irreconcilable contradictions in Eddie's life. He was a womaniser but obviously respected and loved his wife, and as a criminal he fought the establishment but gambled with his life to protect it - the consummate double agent. Perhaps the greatest irony was that the Germans, not the British, awarded him a medal. Like all good conundrums, the book keeps us guessing by letting the reader decide what made this extraordinary man tick. That's a good thing, for I'd like to believe there is an Eddie Chapman somewhere in us all.
This DVD, seems to be a bit of a publicity stunt - I'm even less convinced by it, than I was of the book, after several years have passed since I read it. It's an interesting story, based on some truth, in my opinion.
Chapman, born of an English father and Jewish mother (that never mentioned to his German handlers, of course!) on Wearside in Northeast England was never quite the master criminal he was later painted, though he was prolific and, though caught more than once before WW2, successful, partiularly in carrying out that archetypal 1930's "professional" crime, safeblowing, using (mainly) gelignite. In prison in Jersey when the island was taken over by the forces of the Reich, he offered his services to German Intelligence. They eventually took the bait, but Chapman, either out of patriotism, or, like most agents of all colours or types, out of mixed motives, made contact in the end with British Intelligence on arrival in the UK (by parachute). He did not get on well with the Oxford don who headed the XX Committee (Twenty Committee, Double Cross Committee), charged with "playing back" German agents. For a long time after WW2, it was assumed by many that the British simply ran rings around their opponents, but this was a game with two (main) players and the Germans had their own successes (cf. the "Englandspiel").
Chapman was sent back to Occupied Europe and to a mainly rapturous but partly guarded welcome. The SD and Gestapo were markedly more suspicious of Chapman than his own direct employers, the Abwehr, which was only subsumed into the SD (Sicherheitsdienst or Security Service), an SS entity headed by Walter Schellenberg, after early 1944.
I can recommend this book, as also the other one I have cited. As to the film Triple Cross, based loosely on Chapman's activities, it is OK but no more than that.
These exploits, even in the highly-charged atmosphere of a major war, would simply be unbelievable were it not for the access the author has had to declassified Intelligence files and to the memories and papers of Chapman's widow. They make for a fast-moving, gripping narrative which benefits from Booth's placing of Chapman's escapades within the wider context of the war.
There are moments where the reader may feel the story doesn't quite hang together. On one page Eddie is said to have passed idle days in Paris on the tourist boats; the following page portrays a Paris of food shortages, disrupted rail services and the impossibility of tourism. There are references to "field security policemen,' but in my personal experience of field security towards the end of the forties neither I, nor any of my colleagues, would have seen ourselves as policemen. The mention of an army "captain" with "two pips" on his shoulder is a lapse in accuracy that could easily have been avoided.
But these are minor niggles which cannot ultimately detract from a detailed account of the life of an extraordinary man.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent read, story of a criminal born in the North East, who acquired notoriety. I spotted a few howlers , Eddie was born in Burnopfield NOT Burnup field. Read morePublished 17 months ago by R. W. Hughes
This work is very well researched, and the writing is excellent.
Where I take issue with the story is in the motivations of its protagonist, Eddie Chapman. Read more
Wonderful account of the life and times of Eddie Chapman. What a guy, Rollicking read, and almost impossible to believe it was all true. Read morePublished on 19 Nov. 2013 by GAJ
Just finished this book and was delighted by it. A fantastic story that has obviously been thoroughly researched in order to tell the 'true' story of Eddie Chapman.Published on 6 Mar. 2013 by Rover2
Heard this on the radio, so ordered, it arrived very quickly, I have not had time to read it yetPublished on 23 Jan. 2013 by Sam
double agent who was a rogue who coudnt live life without danger.A crook before the war,ace safecracker, he finds himself in the right place at the right time, a Jersey prison... Read morePublished on 27 July 2012 by bettyparry
Once you open the first page you are hooked this is a great read. Chapman must have had balls the size of canon balls. very detailed on the war but after could have been better. Read morePublished on 21 May 2012 by john
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