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Agent Zigzag

A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal
Written by: Ben MacIntyre
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (33 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. 

©2007 Ben MacIntyre (P)2007 Books on Tape

What the critics say

"[An] intriguing and balanced biography." (Publishers Weekly)

“Macintyre is the more graceful writer; Agent Zigzag has a clarity and shape that make it the more fluid account...I would give a personal nod to Macintyre’s as the better book...A review cannot possibly convey the sheer fun of this story...or the fascinating moral complexities.” (New York Times Book Review)

“[Agent Zigzag’s] incredible wartime adventures, recounted in Ben Macintyre’s rollicking, spellbinding Agent Zigzag blend the spy-versus-spy machinations of John le Carré with the high farce of Evelyn Waugh.” (The New York Times

What listeners say about Agent Zigzag

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

AN ABSOLUTE MUST FOR FANS OF ESPIONAGE!

This is my second MacIntyre spy novel, another absolutely amazing book, well written and extremely well read. Looking forward to the next one!

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

A good book by the best spy storyteller around

My favorite book from last year was Ben Macintyre's The Spy and the Traitor. This is another spy story by him, worth the listen. It is less spectacular in its consequences and not quite as compelling a story as The Spy and the Traitor--also it's not narrated by Macintyre, who is quite a talented narrator in his own right--but it still has much to recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • sd
  • 2019-08-14

A great story

Another great Ben Macintyre story. So much well researched detail without being tedious.
Hard to put down.

1 person found this helpful

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Absolutely fascinating

If you have any interest at all in this subject don’t hesitate and buy this now. A truly wonderful experience, very skilfully read.

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Great book

Give it a listen. Fascinating story! Absolutely brilliant! John Lee does a great job. He's almost better than books read by the author himself.

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A fine spy drama

The story was interesting and almost unbelievable in a 'hollywood script' kind of way. It was well documented and engaging with a fine performance. Would recommend.

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 2009-02-24

What a great character

Eddie Chapman is a real live spy in this amazing non-fiction story that "reads" like a novel. He is a larger than life gentleman criminal who discovers that he is a loyal British subject who was born to be a double agent. Wonderfully narrated by John Lee (one of the best in my opinion), Eddie cons the Germans who are only too happy to send him back to England to spy for them and he then wastes no time convincing the Brits that he can be an effective double. You can't make this stuff up but the amazing thing is that its all true, and the contributions Eddie Chapman made to the allied war effort are extraordinary. We root for Eddie the whole time and he clearly has nine lives. This is great movie material--I just hope Tom Cruise doesn't get the role.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • 2008-01-19

Intrigue and True

I found this book as I so loved John Lee's reading. Lee, does a superb job. His tone is rich, full of a multitude of vocal inflections that carries the imagination deeply into this historical adventure. And like a great actor - he never shines so brightly on the material that his 'acting' takes precedence over the reading.
This is a true story about a very large character. Everything in this account comes full circle - and in a very poignant way. Without giving anything away I am going to mention one person. Cary Grant. You will not believe how he fits into this well told story.
real name:scott stambler

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David Monroe
  • 2007-12-02

A great audiobook

“Agent Zigag” is a riveting and informative audiobook; I looked forward to my long commute, just so I could listen to the story.

The author spins a delightful narrative, recounting numerous real life exploits of a WWII spy. The story contains a wonderful balance of history, intrigue, romance and action. But overall it is a story of personalities, moralities and human frailties that makes the listener wonder: how he would react under similar circumstances?
A full 5-star performance.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Starlet
  • 2010-06-11

The Real Thing

This being a true story of Nazi Espionage, it intrigued me because of my interest in WWII, Holocaust, and Nazi Germany. What I got was a huge glimpse of what International spying is about and especially interesting when it takes place during a war and a double agent to boot! Over half way through I thought about the James Bond stories, but this was even more astonishing in many ways. I found it simply amazing that someone could pull off being a spy, let alone a double spy -- what he had to remember and never be tripped up. It takes a unique personality. I kept thinking throughout the book, I can't believe I'm reading a spy story. In fact, there was a mention of Ian Fleming towards the end of the book -- I think he wrote or directed one of the movies related to Zig Zag's life. I recommend.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Blake
  • 2010-06-30

Outstanding Thriller

As if writing a great work of fiction, Ben MacIntyre pens a riveting thriller around the real-life adventures of British double agent Eddie Chapman during World War II. From the first page to the last, through the double crosses and the love affairs, John Lee's narration pulls you into the story and grips you to the last word.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • 2009-11-27

Great listen

Great reader and very well written. Seems fictional but it's true....and well constructed...sociopath as hero...An amazing story about a con man who is better than an insurance salesman and an architect combined.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 2012-06-16

Brilliant true story

Loved this so much. Having looked at The Man Who Never Was movie and other info, the extensive research, especially on the freshly release secret files, brings the full story to light far more accurately than the old "based on a true story", and its all the better a read for it!

3 people found this helpful

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  • daniel
  • 2011-09-25

Fantastic!

Captivating. Leaves you admiring the boldness and the cunning of an unsung WW2 hero. Rumour is a movie is coming 2014.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Daniel McAfee
  • 2009-02-23

Intriguing Book

When I always want to research a topic afterward, I know I just listened/read a good book.

If you keep reminding yourself this was a true story, it will continue to amaze you.

The narrator does a good job and the story is definitely worth the listen!

Recommended!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jeff
  • 2007-12-01

Excellent

Just when you think you've heard everything there is to hear about WWII, along comes a book like Zigzag. Entertaining, substantive, great narrator -- would have loved to meet Eddie Chapman.

3 people found this helpful