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Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman: Lover, Traitor, Hero, Spy Paperback – 22 Sept. 2016
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From the bestselling author of Operation Mincemeat, now a major film
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD
'Engrossing as any thriller' Daily Telegraph
'Superb. Meticulously researched, splendidly told, immensely entertaining' John le Carré
'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
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 suave, courageous and unpredictable, Chapman was by turns a traitor, a hero, a villain and a man of conscience. But, as his spymasters and many lovers often wondered, who was the real Eddie Chapman?
Ben Macintyre weaves together diaries, letters, photographs, memories and top-secret MI5 files to create an exhilarating account of Britain's most sensational double agent.
A fascinating biography of this most astonishing and insouciant of double agents ... incredible ― Sunday Telegraph
Superb. Meticulously researched, splendidly told, immensely entertaining and often very moving -- John le Carré
Macintyre never misses a delightful, haunting or terrifying detail ... Buy it for dads everywhere but read it too ― Observer
Never short on thrills ― Independent on Sunday
A cracker of a Second World War double-agent yarn ― The Times
The story of Eddie Chapman is different. In fiction it would be rejected as improbable -- MI5
Chapman makes you think inescapably of a certain 007 ― Sunday Times
As engrossing as any thriller ― Daily Telegraph
If you're looking for a good spy thriller, I definitely recommend this ― Daily Express
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Paperbacks (22 Sept. 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1408885409
- ISBN-13 : 978-1408885406
- Dimensions : 19.8 x 2.6 x 13.1 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 7,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
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Chapman, a criminal, sybarite and serial philanderer, found himself on Jersey when the Germans invaded and was transferred to a hellhole of a prison in Paris. The only way out of this benighted existence was to volunteer his services to the Abwehr as a secret agent. Eventually accepted, he was then parachuted into England, where he promptly landed flat on his face and then swiftly handed himself over to the police and volunteered to become a secret agent.
Get the picture? This was a man who first and foremost was driven by self-interest. Yet, as Macintyre makes clear, Chapman was not that simple a character. He developed a genuine affection for his Abwehr controllers. As for his many female conquests, he always professed undying affection, an emotion that was uniformly reciprocated.
Even his British secret service superiors, who, correctly, treated him initially with hostility and suspicion, succumbed to his undoubted charm and ability. Only when he volunteered to assassinate Hitler and go out in a blaze of glory did they curb his patent enthusiasm for espionage. That he was eventually sacked as an agent owed far more to another man's jealousy than to Chapman's failings.
Ben Macintyre tells Chapman's story with panache, affection and tremendous wit. In the course of Agent Zigzag, there are many charming and touching vignettes, none more so than the case of Praetorius, one of Chapman's Abwehr minders. A fan of all things English, but especially folk dancing, Praetorius eventually left the secret service and was appointed dance instructor to the Wehrmacht in the middle of the war. It makes you wonder why it took so long for the Germans to lose.
Source material is annotated and accessible and there's a veracity to the content which makes the story an exciting and relevant read. This book links well with others by the author, who writes with authority about espionage and duplicity in WWII. Chapman was a no mark crook who d beloved a taste for the high life. There's a strange naivety about the way in which disaffected individuals were 'turned'. Macintyre explores the way in which Chapman reached a position where he was content to maybe betray his country. But he also explores other possibility and the reader is left to judge the truth. Informed, intelligent, compelling and written with verve and a real sense of adventure.
The film of Eddie's exploits 'Triple Cross' was shown last Sept on BBC TV keep an eye out for repeat showings.