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Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal | [Ben MacIntyre]

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 10 years after Chapman's death, MI5 has now declassified all of Chapman's 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.

A gripping story of loyalty, love, and treachery, Agent Zigzag offers a unique glimpse into the psychology of espionage, with its thin and shifting line between fidelity and betrayal.

©2007 Ben MacIntyre; (P)2007 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"[An] intriguing and balanced biography." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (479 )
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  •  
    Scott culver City, CA, USA 01-19-08
    Scott culver City, CA, USA 01-19-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
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    5
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    "Intrigue and True"

    I found this book as I so loved John Lee's reading. Lee, does a superb job. His tone is rich, full of a multitude of vocal inflections that carries the imagination deeply into this historical adventure. And like a great actor - he never shines so brightly on the material that his 'acting' takes precedence over the reading.
    This is a true story about a very large character. Everything in this account comes full circle - and in a very poignant way. Without giving anything away I am going to mention one person. Cary Grant. You will not believe how he fits into this well told story.
    real name:scott stambler

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Edison, NJ, USA 02-24-09
    Michael Edison, NJ, USA 02-24-09
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    "What a great character"

    Eddie Chapman is a real live spy in this amazing non-fiction story that "reads" like a novel. He is a larger than life gentleman criminal who discovers that he is a loyal British subject who was born to be a double agent. Wonderfully narrated by John Lee (one of the best in my opinion), Eddie cons the Germans who are only too happy to send him back to England to spy for them and he then wastes no time convincing the Brits that he can be an effective double. You can't make this stuff up but the amazing thing is that its all true, and the contributions Eddie Chapman made to the allied war effort are extraordinary. We root for Eddie the whole time and he clearly has nine lives. This is great movie material--I just hope Tom Cruise doesn't get the role.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Monroe 12-02-07 Member Since 2007
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    "A great audiobook"

    “Agent Zigag” is a riveting and informative audiobook; I looked forward to my long commute, just so I could listen to the story.

    The author spins a delightful narrative, recounting numerous real life exploits of a WWII spy. The story contains a wonderful balance of history, intrigue, romance and action. But overall it is a story of personalities, moralities and human frailties that makes the listener wonder: how he would react under similar circumstances?
    A full 5-star performance.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Starlet San Carlos, CA, United States 06-11-10
    Starlet San Carlos, CA, United States 06-11-10 Member Since 2005
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    "The Real Thing"

    This being a true story of Nazi Espionage, it intrigued me because of my interest in WWII, Holocaust, and Nazi Germany. What I got was a huge glimpse of what International spying is about and especially interesting when it takes place during a war and a double agent to boot! Over half way through I thought about the James Bond stories, but this was even more astonishing in many ways. I found it simply amazing that someone could pull off being a spy, let alone a double spy -- what he had to remember and never be tripped up. It takes a unique personality. I kept thinking throughout the book, I can't believe I'm reading a spy story. In fact, there was a mention of Ian Fleming towards the end of the book -- I think he wrote or directed one of the movies related to Zig Zag's life. I recommend.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blake Annapolis, MD, United States 06-30-10
    Blake Annapolis, MD, United States 06-30-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding Thriller"

    As if writing a great work of fiction, Ben MacIntyre pens a riveting thriller around the real-life adventures of British double agent Eddie Chapman during World War II. From the first page to the last, through the double crosses and the love affairs, John Lee's narration pulls you into the story and grips you to the last word.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Boston, MA, United States 11-27-09
    Richard Boston, MA, United States 11-27-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Great listen"

    Great reader and very well written. Seems fictional but it's true....and well constructed...sociopath as hero...An amazing story about a con man who is better than an insurance salesman and an architect combined.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Mcafee Texas USA 02-23-09
    Daniel Mcafee Texas USA 02-23-09 Member Since 2005

    danmc

    HELPFUL VOTES
    759
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    "Intriguing Book"

    When I always want to research a topic afterward, I know I just listened/read a good book.

    If you keep reminding yourself this was a true story, it will continue to amaze you.

    The narrator does a good job and the story is definitely worth the listen!

    Recommended!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Silver Spring, MD, USA 12-01-07
    Jeff Silver Spring, MD, USA 12-01-07
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    "Excellent"

    Just when you think you've heard everything there is to hear about WWII, along comes a book like Zigzag. Entertaining, substantive, great narrator -- would have loved to meet Eddie Chapman.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fiona Milton, PA, United States 05-04-13
    Fiona Milton, PA, United States 05-04-13 Member Since 2012

    Radio producer; storyteller; folk historian; and audio book addict...Audio books are the only way that I can fit in all the reading I need and want to do. ...Oh, and I am also British. (Anglo-Welsh).

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Tale of A Wide Boy Turned Good."

    I know that many people adore John Lee. But it has taken me years to get used to his rather stilted narrative. Oh! I stick with him, because based on (presumably listener?) "fandom"; most of my favourite authours ; or at least their agents; choose John Lee to narrate.
    Actually, he is getting better, less stilted and clipped. And in the narration of this book he does a mostly excellent job. My only concern was when he couldn't seem to find an accent for Eddie. Our hero seemed to dive between lowland Scotland and somewhere in Wiltshire.
    Still, not every listener will be sniffy about regional dialect. And Lee's performances are solid.
    The story is fantastic!
    I've met a few Eddie Chapman's in my time (Eddie sans the spy work that is). Wide boys who have a wild life, and seized every opportunity they could during and after the war to "better" themselves; but were ultimately true to their nearest and country.
    The book fairly gallops along, without any of the expected "norms". Here you will find decent Germans; and unpleasant Brits. You will be unsure of Eddie and what he was up to; see-sawing between liking him, and wondering if he's about to pull a fast one.
    The hidden stories of WW2 are incredible. And this one; quite; quite amazing.
    My only gripe....occurred early in the book. I could not figure out whether it was a mistake made by an authour too young to know; or a slip of the tongue; or a slip up in editing.
    Someone in Jersey complains that
    "He used enough tea bags to brew tea for {lots of people} ...."
    I well remember my Auntie Gladys; recalling with hilarity; how when her sister Joan was visiting America in the late 1940's; she sent her sister a box of tea bags.
    Gladys had her children sitting in the kitchen carefully slicing open each bag, to empty the contents into her tea caddy.
    "What a waste of time tea bags are!!" She said "It took HOURS to unpick them all!!"
    I didn't see my first tea bag (in rural Kent {England}) until somewhere in the mid 1960's. We were highly suspicious of them! So the idea of someone in Jersey having tea bags...or a good English boy knowing what on earth they were; in 1940; is highly suspect.

    Apart from that (Just call me nit-pickety) this book is brilliant! Absolutely bloody brilliant!



    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    daniel ottawa, ontario, Canada 09-25-11
    daniel ottawa, ontario, Canada 09-25-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Fantastic!"

    Captivating. Leaves you admiring the boldness and the cunning of an unsung WW2 hero. Rumour is a movie is coming 2014.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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