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Zigzag: The Incredible Wartime Exploits of Double Agent Eddie Chapman Hardcover – September 4, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559708603
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559708609
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,639,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Broadcaster and author Booth (The Encyclopedia of Space) mines the newly released World War II records of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI5) for this lively and sympathetic account of celebrated double agent Eddie Chapman. A petty criminal, Chapman was incarcerated in a Jersey jail when the Germans occupied the Channel Islands in 1940. After his release, he offered to work for German military intelligence and received training as a saboteur and spy in occupied France. He parachuted into England in 1942 with orders to blow up an aircraft factory, but contacted British intelligence once on the ground. Despite their misgivings—his handlers variously described Chapman as a very strange character and a man without any scruples—MI5 employed him as a double agent for the remainder of the war. There are legitimate questions as to the enigmatic Chapman's motivation, but Booth, who collaborated with Chapman's widow, Betty, invariably sides with the double agent against his critics. In Booth's judgment, Chapman was the most remarkable spy of the Second World War, and his treatment by British intelligence was shameful. Whether rogue or patriot, his story makes for intriguing reading, but Booth's transparent cheerleading for Chapman detracts from an otherwise enjoyable biography. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Booth's Zig Zag is the longer of the two, going into greater detail about Eddie's life before he became a spy and into the histories of some of the people he knew and worked with. Drawing heavily on the memories of Eddie's widow, Betty Chapman, as well as recently declassified documents (such as Chapman's MI5 file), the book tells a very personal, intimate story. Booth also takes pains to remind us, from time to time, that Eddie, who wrote or authorized several autobiographical works in the 1950s and 1960s, was a habitual and expert liar and that nothing he says about himself should be taken at face value. The book, therefore, has an air of mystery about it, and despite the author's extensive documentation, we wonder at the end if we have yet heard the real story of Eddie Chapman. Pitt, David

Customer Reviews

Pick up the book.
Daniel Leibovitz
Forgive me if I'm wrong here, but "unbending" is another word for inflexible or stubborn, no?
A. Currie
A well written and thoroughly researched book.
Ronald T. Roseborough

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
During World War II, Eddie Chapman bore the codename "Zigzag", given to him by his British masters at MI5. Such names were supposed to be close to meaningless; the point was to keep Chapman and his work secret. But some spymaster allowed a shade of meaning into Chapman's designator; he had zigged through the British criminal underworld, zagged through the ranks of German espionage, and MI5 had trouble understanding where he was coming from or where he would show up next. "Without a doubt he was the most remarkable spy of the Second World War," writes Nicholas Booth in _Zigzag: The Incredible Wartime Exploits of Double Agent Eddie Chapman_ (Arcade Publishing). Chapman has had his biographies before, and even a couple of autobiographies which are not really to be trusted because, well, he was Eddie Chapman, and also because of censorship restrictions, still in place when Chapman brought out his "real" story in 1966. Now the official secrecy is lifted and archives opened, and with the help of Chapman's longsuffering but devoted widow, Booth has researched Chapman's story as much as it probably will ever be. It's one of those stories that if it were brought out as a novel, it would be dismissed as lacking any grounds for credibility. Chapman was a clever, devious fellow, and MI5 harnessed the deviousness without ever rewarding him or acknowledging how much the nation was in Chapman's debt.

Chapman was born in 1914 and drifted to London in the mid-1930s, where, in his own words, he "met and mixed with all types of tricky people, racecourse crooks, touts, thieves, prostitutes and the flotsam of the nightlife of a great city." He was a small-time crook and went on to a specialty of blowing up safes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ronald T. Roseborough VINE VOICE on June 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
ZigZag is the true story of Eddie Chapman, a double agent for the British in World War II. His early life as a career criminal, was interrupted when he was captured on the Isle of Jersey, by the invading Germans. After some time in jail, he convinced the German's he would spy on England for them. He was trained in espionage and dropped by parachute into England , where his first act was to turn himself in and offer to work for the British as a double agent against the Germans. His life is a series of twists and turns, always searching for the next adventure, always crossing the line from petty criminal to conman, from spy to counterspy. A well written and thoroughly researched book. Sometimes it is hard for us or Eddie to tell which road he has chosen to travel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frank M. Mutz on October 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Great book. Gripping. The reader gets a good understanding of war life for civilians, law enforcement, and spies in England, France, and Germany during World War II. I could not put this book down.
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Format: Paperback
Zig Zag

Nicholas Booth wrote six previous books, and was a journalist for the London `Observer' and the London `Times'. Chapman's widow gave him full cooperation. The `Prologue' tells about Eddie Chapman's return to England in December 1942, "the most remarkable spy of the Second World War". Chapman was the only German spy to parachute into Britain twice. "This book aims to demolish the myths and tell the complete story of Eddie's wartime adventures". "Eddie was mechanically inept", his father and brother were engineers (p.xix). The slums of England were worse than any seen in Europe (p.4). Eddie loved adventure or danger. The death of Eddie's mother from tuberculosis affected him deeply (p.8). His prewar criminal history is in Chapter 1. Germany invaded the Channel Islands while Eddie was in prison.

Chapter 2 tells about the Germans in Jersey. Eddie worked in the black market, was caught, imprisoned, then sent to a prison in France. He was given a chance to work for Germany (p.70). It was hard to find native English speakers. Eddie was sent to a country estate for training (Chapter 3). [Any self-serving statements (p.80)?] Did the Germans suspect Eddie was a double agent (p.83)? Spies were taught their needed skills (p.89). [Shouldn't that be "ten marks to the pound" (p.104)?] Chapter 4 tells of Chapman's preparations to be sent to England. When he landed he went to the first farmhouse to surrender. Chapter 5 is about his mission to damage the factory that built the `Mosquito', a fast fighter-bomber made of wood (p.153). Eddie was cheered up by meeting an old friend, Terence Young (p.165). Decoy targets confused enemy bombers (p.168). A fake transformer building was constructed so it could be destroyed by sabotage (p.170).
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Format: Hardcover
Zig Zag, Nicholas Booth

Nicholas Booth wrote six previous books, and was a journalist for the London `Observer' and the London `Times'. Chapman's widow gave him full cooperation. The `Prologue' tells about Eddie Chapman's return to England in December 1942, "the most remarkable spy of the Second World War". Chapman was the only German spy to parachute into Britain twice. "This book aims to demolish the myths and tell the complete story of Eddie's wartime adventures". "Eddie was mechanically inept", his father and brother were engineers (p.xix). The slums of England were worse than any seen in Europe (p.4). Eddie loved adventure or danger. The death of Eddie's mother from tuberculosis affected him deeply (p.8). His prewar criminal history is in Chapter 1. Germany invaded the Channel Islands while Eddie was in prison.

Chapter 2 tells about the Germans in Jersey. Eddie worked in the black market, was caught, imprisoned, then sent to a prison in France. He was given a chance to work for Germany (p.70). It was hard to find native English speakers. Eddie was sent to a country estate for training (Chapter 3). [Any self-serving statements (p.80)?] Did the Germans suspect Eddie was a double agent (p.83)? Spies were taught their needed skills (p.89). [Shouldn't that be "ten marks to the pound" (p.104)?] Chapter 4 tells of Chapman's preparations to be sent to England. When he landed he went to the first farmhouse to surrender. Chapter 5 is about his mission to damage the factory that built the `Mosquito', a fast fighter-bomber made of wood (p.153). Eddie was cheered up by meeting an old friend, Terence Young (p.165). Decoy targets confused enemy bombers (p.168). A fake transformer building was constructed so it could be destroyed by sabotage (p.170).
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