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

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

Paperback

By (author) Ben Macintyre

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 28mm | 281g
  • Publication date: 4 June 2007
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0747592837
  • ISBN 13: 9780747592839
  • Illustrations note: B&W Inserts
  • Sales rank: 89,571

Product description

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.

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Author information

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 now lives in London with his wife and three children. Agent Zigzag is his fifth book.

Review quote

'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

Editorial reviews

A preternaturally talented liar and pretty good safecracker becomes a "spy prodigy" working concurrently for Britain's MI5 and the Nazi's Abwehr.London Times newsman and popular historian Macintyre (The Man Who Would be King: The First American in Afghanistan, 2004, etc) reports on the life and crimes of the late Eddie Chapman using interviews, newly released secret files and, cautiously, the English spy's less-reliable memoirs. Just launching his criminal career when World War II began, the dashing adventurer was jailed in the Channel Island Jersey. Volunteering his services to the occupying Fatherland, he was taken to France and schooled in the dark arts of espionage and the wicked devices of spies by the likes of convivial headmaster Herr von Groning and spymaster Oberleutnant Praetorius. Then the new German agent signed a formal espionage contract (under which his expected rewards were to be subjected to income tax). Dropped in England's green and pleasant land to commit sabotage, he instead reported directly to His Majesty's secret service. There they called their man "Agent ZigZag." The Germans had named him "Fritzchen." Little Fritz, with the help of a magician, fooled his Nazi handlers into believing he had wrecked an aircraft factory. After a crafty return to Germany, he made another parachute drop home to report on an anti-sub device and the accuracy of the new V-1 flying bomb. The energetic adventurer from a lower stratum of British society was being run by Oxbridge gentlemen and by aristocrats of Deutschland at the same time. Or perhaps he was running them. Adorning his exploits were several beautiful women and an Iron Cross. It is a remarkable cloak-and-dagger procedural and a fine tale of unusual wartime employment. Based on the same material, another first-rate text (Nicholas Booth's ZigZag, 2007) with much the same Hitchcockian contortions qualifies as an exciting black-and-white spy thriller. Macintyre's version is in full color.One of the great true spy stories of World War II, vividly rendered. (Kirkus Reviews)