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
"[An] intriguing and balanced biography." (Publishers Weekly)
This is a compelling story that humanizes the spy like no other espionage tale I've encountered.
Nicely narrated, too.
A fascinating true account of a British double agent during World War II. About as close to a real life James Bond as you can get, and possibly inspirational as Ian Fleming was friends with Zigzag before he began writing the 007 series. The availability of the MI5 files results in a great mix of criminal escapades, spy adventures, and personality insights.
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought that the narration was excellent also. The main character was not exactly admirable, (well, OK he was a bank robber on the lam, a rake and a womanizer) but he was a person who was driven to seek excitement and danger in every aspect of his life. Tremendously smart and resourceful, the situations that he was able to negotiate were nothing short of astounding. Mr. Campbell (Agent Zigzag) seems to be a person born with the innate drive and skills to be a successful spy. The book is extensively documented, even down to transcribed conversations with Mr. Campbell talking to his British handlers. Quite a yarn!
I like that it was written partly as a novel and as a history book. It was interesting to hear how real life spying works.
I read this because I was interested in what started the James Bond series. The author appears to have done the homework necessary to mke this believable. I enjoyed the book and found it interesting that Bond was created, at least in the begenning, from actual experiences.
Fascinating character and great research. An interesting tale told in a forthright manner; this is NOT an historical novel, however, so don't expect dialogue or much in the way of story-telling.
What a riveting true story. My only regret was that I had no photos to look at while listening. Ben McIntyre did a great job of weaving the events together.
Agent Zigzag is a true story of a double agent in WWII. In many respects its sad because a young man with extraordinary talent reveals a very immature and wasted personal life. In addition the very people to whom he is loyal betray him in the end.
It's an interesting book but lags in a few places.
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