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Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi…

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Ben Macintyre

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948609,163 (3.95)166
Title:Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal
Authors:Ben Macintyre
Info:Broadway (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:ebook, Your library
Tags:non-fiction, history, war

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Agent Zigzag. A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre (2007)


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» See also 166 mentions

English (57)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (60)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
I thought this was a great book, a very engrossing story, skillfully told. Eddie Chapman, whose codename was in fact Zigzag (I thought it was made up for the title) was a charming incorrigible who turned into a cunning double agent for the British during World War II. The stories of espionage are really remarkable and make James Bond seem not nearly so outlandish--the MI staged a bombing on an aircraft factory to deceive the Germans (thanks to the talents of a master magician!). I couldn't put it down, would recommend it to anyone who likes spy, espionage thrillers. ( )
  LizHD | Mar 25, 2015 |
The tale of Eddie Chapman - loveable rogue, double agent, womanizer. Don't read back to back with Ben Macintyre's other second world war books - there is some overlap in the material covered. ( )
  cazfrancis | Sep 23, 2014 |
I wish like hell there had been no war—I begin to wish I had never started this affair. To spy and cheat on one's friends it's not nice it's dirty. However, I started this affair and I will finish it.

I haven't read a book by Ben Macintyre that I didn't enjoy. When I picked this out of my tbr jar I knew I was in for a true story so odd that it would make a great spy novel/movie. Eddie Chapman was quite the character and it was a pleasure reading about him.

At times it is hard to believe that a man like Eddie could and would become a double agent for England during WWII. You wouldn't expect a criminal to have been allowed such an important and dangerous role but besides being a criminal Eddie was also loyal and had a charisma that would draw others to him. I grew to really like Eddie while reading this and felt horrible for him towards the end with all that Ryde threw against him, even though I knew most of it was Eddie's fault.

Reading one of Macintyre's books is always an experience. With this book, and the others by Macintyre that I have read, I didn't get a dry telling of history but rather a colorful telling of the events and the people behind them. There are always these wonderfully quirky people highlighted and some hilarious events discussed throughout Macintyre's books.

I would highly recommend this book if you want to read about a double agent unlike no other. ( )
  dpappas | Sep 1, 2014 |
It's not often you get to read a lively and entertaining history book, but Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre fits the bill. Eddie Chapman was Agent Zigzag in WWII, a dedicated British criminal (safe-cracking, break-ins, etc.) who became a double agent. He was trained as a German spy, only to immediately turn himself into British authorities upon parachuting into a field near London, and he then became an agent instead for the Allies. As book photos confirm, he was handsome, and someone whom a wide variety of personalities found charming, from staid government officials to spy trainers to other spies. His charm also paved the way for a number of romances, with Eddie insisting on female companionship at every port of call.

Besides following the remarkable true life exploits of this rogue, I enjoyed reading about the many related deceptions perpetrated on the unsuspecting Germans by British intelligence, from the well-known Enigma code-breaking advantage of knowing what the Germans were transmitting, including between their dangerous U-boats, to the complicated misdirection ploy of convincing the Germans the Allies were beginning their assault at Calais, not Normandy, to the faked destruction of a critical plane factory in which Eddie (and a magician!) played a key role.

Eddie's talent for lying repeated served him well, in playing roles and withstanding interrogation. He had a well-earned reputation for accomplishing the assigned mission, with the warning that you'd better be sure to watch your wallet as he was carrying it out. He couldn't resist adding extracurricular fleecing of one sort or another. From a lower class background, he became well-read, and fluent in French and German, and acquired noteworthy expertise in explosives. One section of the book has Eddie and Britain's upper class head man for explosives sharing a gleeful time discussing different ways to blow things up, like two little kids becoming best friends.

Eddie Chapman thrived on danger and adrenaline, and had no shortage of bravery. At one point, he was so convincing to the Germans that they awarded him a medal. Meanwhile, his multiple romances in different countries were deeply felt on both sides, and who he ended up marrying both surprised me and made me laugh. For an improbable slice of history served up in delicious fashion, you need look no further. Four stars. ( )
2 vote jnwelch | Jun 16, 2014 |
Among the German spies that became double agents for the British Secret Service during WWII was Eddie Chapman, a man with a penchant for criminal activities in his youth and wanted by the British police for most of the war. Known as Fritz by the Germans, his identity as a double agent was never broken despite his indiscretion to a Norwegian girlfriend and an old member of his previous crime gang. Instead he was feted by the Germans as their most successful and reliable spy to whom he fed a mix of half truths and lies about V-1 bomb strike locations in and around London, a much more effective and dangerous hedgehog that could locate U-boats in deep dive and even helped fake the destruction of the Mosquito factory.

Chapman caused his British handlers no end of anxiety because he was a contradiction. He developed a longlasting and true friendship with his German handler and admired him, but at the same time, he knew that the information he was delivering to the British and to the Germans could potentially result in the death of this friend.

He was a survivor, a charming story-teller and had the ego the size of the Titanic. MI5 made a drastic mistake late in the war in changing his handler from one with whom he had developed a strong friendship, to one who was the very opposite in personalities, and who took it upon himself to destroy Chapman. His goal was to close the ZigZag operation down. The irrepressible Chapman though, proved to be a survivor and did very well for himself after the war. ( )
  cameling | Jun 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Mr. Macintyre, a writer at large for The Times of London, paints a detailed picture, supported by newly opened MI5 files on espionage training in the Third Reich and Britain’s desperate scramble to throw the enemy off course through a campaign of disinformation.
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Zigzag. n, adj, and vb. '... a pattern made up of many small corners at an acute angle, tracing a path between two parallel lines; it can be described as both jagged and fairly regular'.
'It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to conduct espionage against you and to bribe them to serve you. Give them instructions and care for them. Thus double agents are recruited and used.'

Sun Tzu, The Art of War
'War makes thieves and peace hangs them.'

George Herbert
For Kate
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A German spy drops from a black Focke-Wulf reconnaissance plane over Cambridgeshire.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307353419, Paperback)

“Ben Macintyre’s rollicking, spellbinding Agent Zigzag blends the spy-versus-
spy machinations of John le Carré with the high farce of Evelyn Waugh.”
—William Grimes, The New York Times

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Washington Post Best Book of 2007
One of the Top 10 Best Books of 2007 (Entertainment Weekly)
New York Times Best of the Year Round-Up
New York Times Editors’ Choice

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. Based on recently declassified files, Agent Zigzag tells Chapman’s full story for the first time. It’s a gripping tale of loyalty, love, treachery, espionage, and the thin and shifting line between fidelity and betrayal.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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. In 1941, after training as a German spy in occupied France, Chapman was parachuted into Britain with orders to blow up an airplane factory. Instead, he contacted MI5, the British Secret Service. For the next four years, he worked as a double agent, a British spy at the heart of the German Secret Service. Crisscrossing Europe under different names, 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. MI5 has now declassified all of Chapman's files, allowing the full story to be told, a unique glimpse into the psychology of espionage, with its thin and shifting line between fidelity and betrayal.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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