Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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 orders orders from the Abwehr to blow up an airplane factory in Britain. 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.
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.
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.
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 53 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 26, 2007|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #16,410 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#19 in Espionage True Crime
#23 in World War II Biographies
#47 in Espionage True Accounts
Reviewed in the United States on June 10, 2019
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Top reviews from the United States
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Ben McIntyre is one such author whose works are at the very top level of the genre. He has the rare ability to turn the results of his exhaustive, stunningly complete research into a book that reads like a top shelf novel but drips with authenticity at every turn. In “Agent Zigzag”, we learn of the exploits of Eddie Chapman, an Englishman with an extensive criminal record who becomes a spy for the Germans but ultimately becomes a double agent run by the British. Despite his past, he becomes quite successful, supplying information to the British, supplying disinformation to the Germans, and earning the respect of both sides while doing it. He is one of the few spies who actually provided information which helped turn the war in favor of the Allies. In fact, one of his British handlers stated that his exploits were so incredible that they were beyond conception for the writer of fiction.
The book starts with Eddie the criminal deserting his lunch date by jumping out of a window as the police close in on him, and ends with Eddie the spy encountering that same woman (whom he marries) in a different restaurant after the war is over. In between the lunch dates, he gets picked up by police, gets sentenced to jail, gets collected by the Germans, and learns tradecraft, bomb making, and wireless communications. He is parachuted into England, where he immediately goes to work for the Allies and commences to supply his German handlers with disinformation, perform various espionage tasks, and help in measurable ways to win the war. He even returns to the Germans, survives numerous interrogations, and proceeds to supply his English handlers with information straight from the heart of enemy territory.
The text is clear and readable, with proper grammar and structure. It is alive, however, and delivers the story at the pace of the best novel, but is peppered throughout with references to material obtained from MI5 archives, interviews, and other history sources. In fact, the last fifty plus pages are footnotes on the sources from which the material was obtained. If high school history texts were this well written, there would be a lot more historians around.
This book is quite entertaining and satisfying, and at the end you will have learned things about the covert side of WWII that you would never have known otherwise. And all along the way you will marvel at how one man can do so many things and live to tell about it. I recommend “Agent Zigzag”.
I grew up hearing the anecdotal stories of war from my father and uncles, all of which served in WWII. As a kid I was riveted by the real life tales they had to share sitting around after a family meal. I have read quite a few non fiction books about divergent aspects of WWII many of which are heavy with details, seeming like a straight documentary. They are intriguing because they are history. This book is as insightful as any I have yet read in revealing the details of, and shedding light on the inner workings of, the historical events described, and yet was thoroughly entertaining at the same time. If you are a WWII aficionado you need to read this one.
I won't spoil the story by telling you what happens to Agent Zigzag (the brilliant name that MI5 gave him) aka Fritz or Fritzchen (the name that the Abwehr gave him) aka Eddie Chapman (his real name). But if you are suffering from insomnia and have nothing else to do, read this book. It won't cure the insomnia, because it's too exciting for that. But it will while away the hours. Five stars.
It is easily read and chronologicaly written so it's easy to follow the story line. No jumping back and forth from one event to the next. No tricky names of people and places making it hard to follow.
This is the real deal! Eddie Chapman is one of the great heros of the second world war. The part he played in that war is one of the great stories. Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre is an outstanding book. If you have any interest in true espionage and double agents, buy this book!
OK, my first review was in July 2012. Now its June 2013 and I just finished this book for the second time. It's equaly as good the second time around. You will not be disappointed! I hope this helps you decide.
Top reviews from other countries
Chapman, a criminal, sybarite and serial philanderer, found himself on Jersey when the Germans invaded and was transferred to a hellhole of a prison in Paris. The only way out of this benighted existence was to volunteer his services to the Abwehr as a secret agent. Eventually accepted, he was then parachuted into England, where he promptly landed flat on his face and then swiftly handed himself over to the police and volunteered to become a secret agent.
Get the picture? This was a man who first and foremost was driven by self-interest. Yet, as Macintyre makes clear, Chapman was not that simple a character. He developed a genuine affection for his Abwehr controllers. As for his many female conquests, he always professed undying affection, an emotion that was uniformly reciprocated.
Even his British secret service superiors, who, correctly, treated him initially with hostility and suspicion, succumbed to his undoubted charm and ability. Only when he volunteered to assassinate Hitler and go out in a blaze of glory did they curb his patent enthusiasm for espionage. That he was eventually sacked as an agent owed far more to another man's jealousy than to Chapman's failings.
Ben Macintyre tells Chapman's story with panache, affection and tremendous wit. In the course of Agent Zigzag, there are many charming and touching vignettes, none more so than the case of Praetorius, one of Chapman's Abwehr minders. A fan of all things English, but especially folk dancing, Praetorius eventually left the secret service and was appointed dance instructor to the Wehrmacht in the middle of the war. It makes you wonder why it took so long for the Germans to lose.
Source material is annotated and accessible and there's a veracity to the content which makes the story an exciting and relevant read. This book links well with others by the author, who writes with authority about espionage and duplicity in WWII. Chapman was a no mark crook who d beloved a taste for the high life. There's a strange naivety about the way in which disaffected individuals were 'turned'. Macintyre explores the way in which Chapman reached a position where he was content to maybe betray his country. But he also explores other possibility and the reader is left to judge the truth. Informed, intelligent, compelling and written with verve and a real sense of adventure.
The film of Eddie's exploits 'Triple Cross' was shown last Sept on BBC TV keep an eye out for repeat showings.