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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

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Scott
  • culver City, CA, USA
  • 01-19-08

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

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Starlet
  • San Carlos, CA, United States
  • 06-11-10

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Blake
  • Annapolis, MD, United States
  • 06-30-10

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Boston, MA, United States
  • 11-27-09

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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!


3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jeff
  • Silver Spring, MD, USA
  • 12-01-07


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

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mike
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 06-16-12

Brilliant true story

Loved this so much. Having looked at The Man Who Never Was movie and other info, the extensive research, especially on the freshly release secret files, brings the full story to light far more accurately than the old "based on a true story", and its all the better a read for it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • daniel
  • ottawa, ontario, Canada
  • 09-25-11


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