Recommended Reads: Spy thriller explores life of World War II double agent

agent zigzagAgent ZigZag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal, by Ben MacIntyre

Do you like spy thrillers? Well, this one is the real thing. This is the true accounting of the self-serving, but also heroic adventures of Eddie Chapman as a double agent during World War II. He was a British citizen with an interesting personal history. Despite his checkered past, he volunteered for the British spy service. With his criminal record, his offer was not taken up by MI5 at that time. Then he turned traitor, volunteering to spy for the Nazis to save himself. But then he turned again and ended up as a double agent for the British. Chapman would say that it was always his intent to work for the British and that may be, or he may have seized an opportunity that came his way as he did so often in his life. His story, and reading about his adventures, is enthralling.

You’ll learn a lot about the people and the workings of the Nazi secret service. Chapman was one of the first initiates in the Nazis’ ambitions to turn allies’ citizens into their own spies. You’ll read about Chapman’s training, and about secrets he discovered for the British during his private training by the Nazis in France. When Chapman was deemed ready and fully tested regarding his loyalties, he was dangerously parachuted back to Britain on a mission for the Nazis.

Then you get to read about Chapman immediately turning himself over to service as a double agent for MI5, Britain’s secret service, who gave him the code name ZigZag. You’ll meet the people he worked with there, including the man that Ian Fleming modeled “Q” after in the James Bond books. The book details how Chapman and his MI5 handlers dangerously but successfully fooled the Nazis.

Chapman is a charming and likable personality, with a criminal personal life before becoming a double agent spy. He loves deeply and often, and you’ll read all about the fascinating and brave women who are attracted to him, and one who spies with him.

Ben MacIntyre is a British author, historian and columnist for The Times of London newspaper. He has fully researched this topic, including exhaustive numbers of confidential files finally released by the British government in 2002, and also videotaped recollections by Chapman himself before he died in 1997, and interviews with the surrounding characters in Chapman’s life from several countries.

This book is a most enjoyable way to understand the inside story of a very important time in history. The author treats the facts objectively, but at the same time tells the story in an engaging way that exposes the humanity behind the treachery, the heroics and the ambitions.

Thereby hangs a tale . . .

— By Wendy Kendall

wendy kendallWendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. She’s enjoyed living in Edmonds for over 20 years. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.



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