Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. 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 persona ended and the other began.
In 1941, after training as a German spy in occupied France, Chapman was parachuted into Britain with a revolver, a wireless, and a cyanide pill, with orders from the Abwehr to blow up an airplane factory. Instead, he contacted MI5, the British Secret Service. For the next four years, Chapman worked as a double agent, a lone British spy at the heart of the German Secret Service who at one time volunteered to assassinate Hitler for his countrymen. Crisscrossing Europe under different names, all the while weaving plans, spreading disinformation, and, miraculously, keeping his stories straight under intense interrogation, he even managed to gain some profit and seduce beautiful women along the way.
The Nazis feted Chapman as a hero and awarded him the Iron Cross. In Britain, he was pardoned for his crimes, becoming the only wartime agent to be thus rewarded. Both countries provided for the mother of his child and his mistress. Sixty years after the end of the war, and ten years after Chapmans death, MI5 has now declassified all of Chapmans files, releasing more than 1,800 pages of top secret material and allowing the full story of Agent Zigzag to be told for the first time.
New York Times
[Agent Zigzag’s] incredible wartime adventures, recounted in Ben Macintyre’s rollicking, spellbinding Agent Zigzag blend the spy-versus-spy machinations of John le Carré with the high farce of Evelyn Waugh.
Macintyre [relates] his compellingly cinematic spy thriller with verve.
One of the great true spy stories of World War II, vividly rendered.
Meticulously researched—relying extensively on recently released wartime files of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service—Macintyre's biography often reads like a spy thriller.
The Spectator (UK)
If Ben Macintyre had presented this story as a novel, it would have been denounced as far too unlikely: yet every word of it is true. Moreover he has that enviable gift, the inability to write a dull sentence. An enthralling book results from the opening up of once deadly secret files.
The Times (London)
Macintyre succeeds in bringing Chapman vividly to life. It is unlikely that a more engaging study of espionage and deception will be published this year.
Mail on Sunday (UK)
This is the most amazing book, full of fascinating and hair-raising true-life adventures…and beautifully told. For anyone interested in the Second World War, spying, romance, skullduggery or the hidden chambers of the human mind, it would be impossible to recommend it too highly.
The Sunday Times (UK)
Splendidly vivid. . . . There are endless delightful twists to the tale.
Daily Express (UK)
Speaking as a former MI6 officer, take it from me: there are very few books which give you a genuine picture of what it feels like to be a spy. This is one…. an enthralling war story.
John le Carré
Superb. Meticulously researched, splendidly told, immensely entertaining and often very moving.
Alan Furst Agent Zigzag is a true-history thriller, a real spy story superbly written. It belongs to my favorite genre: the ‘Friday night book’–start it then, because you will want to stay with it all weekend.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Lynn Very interesting read Could this have been the original inspiration for James Bond? Maybe, but not probable. However, Eddie Chapman is someone you admire for his incredible bravery and pull for throughout the book, but wouldn't trust with your personal possessions. I... Read More
After the war, Chapman
dumped his various
girlfriends and went back to
pre-war lover Betty Farmer,
who he last saw as he
hurriedly extricated himself
from dinner with her in
order to escape the Jersey police
in 1938. Their daughter,
Suzanne, was born in 1954,
and the Chapmans set up a
health farm at Shenley Lodge
in Hertfordshire (south of
England), which was
apparently a popular meeting
place for movie stars and
Later, it was the settings for
A Clockwork Orange
(the house where Alex is
caught by the police).
Chapman became friendly
with many celebrities
including Noel Coward,
Marlene Dietrich and Terence...
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In his new line of work, Alec finds that the difference...
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