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Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal Paperback – August 12, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Eddie Chapman was no James Bond or even a Sidney Reilly, but he was one of the boldest, most brazen con men ever to serve a nation or a cause, and in so doing he found some redemption from the wrongs of his earlier life. From his days as a roguish charmer who infiltrated high society and first infatuated and later blackmailed rich women in the most callous and base ways imaginable, this safecracker, thief and extortionist found himself sprung by the Germans early in the war when he was then serving a fifteen-year sentence in an English prison in the Channel Islands.
The charismatic Chapman, as liked by his German liberators as by those who'd known him back home, was then recruited by the Nazis as a spy who agreed to do their bidding and sabotage a British aircraft factory in Hertfordshire. He parachuted back onto his native soil during the busy Christmas season of 1942, only to prove his ultimate loyalty by going to the British and offering to in turn spy on the Germans.Read more ›
Chapman's story is so full of adventure and ripe with coincidence that would be unbelievable if it were a novel. The story of how he comes to be an agent for the Germans is in itself worthy of a movie, taking us from a bank robbery in Scotland to prison - and eventual freedom - on the island of Jersey and then incarceration in the worst of Parisian prisons.
Chapman emerges as a kind of James Bond character: a handsome and charming rogue with a penchant for adventure, for gambling, fine food and fast women. He is a fascinating mass of contradictions: utterly loyal to his friends even as he betrays them, a hopeless criminal who develops into a resourceful spy. But even the minor characters leap off the pages in this tale. The photographs are also well chosen and add to the story.
Ben MacIntyre has amassed a vast amount of detail about not only Chapman, but his associates in both the German and English secret services. There is lots of interesting information about how those secret services functioned and what they achieved during the war. I was particularly riveted by the details about his training in spy techniques by the Nazis. However the book never gets bogged down in historical facts. Like the best biographies, it reads almost like fiction. I highly recommend this book.
Earlier reviewers have exalted or condemned Chapman, so allow me to state that essentially all spies/agents have a screw loose and a yen for danger, excitement and feeling special. They operate with governmental assistance well above the law -- a heady role that must in itself be its own reward. Few if any spies for western democracies have been justly rewarded for their endeavors, as such rewards are generally denied under the rubric of maintaining security. Most ex-agents are relegated to obscurity and penury while some are "terminated with extreme prejudice" (killed) if they are considered as security risks. In this respect, working for a totalitarian government like that in the old USSR has its rewards, as they tend to resettle ex-agents in government positions. There is something about a democracy that makes a spy untrustworthy to the public and unworthy of its respect. As such, Chapman was no exception.
Agent handlers or case officers are usually like Ryde, Chapman's last British handler -- bureaucrats playing it safe and willing to sacrifice their agents.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very easy to read, very detailed. It was fantastic to know all the inside info of a wonderful spying talePublished 11 days ago by Mauricio Ocampo
Damn good read well written with some humour... Very interesting and informative...Published 1 month ago by Andrew Slidel
This is a very unique story that is told in a documentary style. The main character is a very flawed individual who is nevertheless like able and somewhat to be admired. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mary N. Parker
This is a great story, what a life the guy had. I was disappointed by the ending, it just ended. I keep expecting some grand ending and it was not there. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Tony Waterloo