Download Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal Audiobook

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal Audiobook, by Ben Macintyre Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Ben Macintyre Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2007 ISBN: 9781415942888
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,715 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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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 ten 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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Quotes & Awards

  • A portrait of a man who double-crossed not only the Nazis, but just about every other principle and person he encountered. In doing so, Eddie Chapman made all thriller writers’ jobs harder, because this spy tale trumps any fiction. Men’s Journal
  • One of the most extraordinary stories of the Second World War. William Boyd, The Sunday Telegraph
  • This is the most amazing book, full of fascinating and hair-raising true-life adventures…and beautifully told. For anyone interested in the Second World War, spying, romance, skullduggery or the hidden chambers of the human mind, it would be impossible to recommend it too highly. The Mail on Sunday
  • Speaking as a former MI6 officer, take it from me: there are very few books which give you a genuine picture of what it feels like to be a spy. This is one…. an enthralling war story. The Daily Express
  • Macintyre tells Chapman’s tale in a perfect pitch: with the Boys’ Own thrills of Rider Haggard, the verve of George MacDonald Fraser and Carl Hiassen’s mordant humor. . . . Hugely entertaining. The [London] Observer
  • “If Ben Macintyre had presented this story as a novel, it would have been denounced as far too unlikely: yet every word of it is true. Moreover he has that enviable gift, the inability to write a dull sentence. An enthralling book results from the opening up of once deadly secret files. The Spectator
  • “Splendidly vivid. . . . There are endless delightful twists to the tale. Max Hastings, The [London] Sunday Times
  • Ben Macintyre's rollicking, thriller-paced account…is a Boy's Own adventure par excellence and a gripping psychological case study of a man 'torn between patriotism and egotism.' Time Out
  • Macintyre succeeds in bringing Chapman vividly to life. It is unlikely that a more engaging study of espionage and deception will be published this year. The Times
  • "A preternaturally talented liar and pretty good safecracker becomes a “spy prodigy” working concurrently for Britain’s MI5 and the Nazi’s Abwehr.
  • London Times newsman and popular historian Macintyre (The Man Who Would be King: The First American in Afghanistan, 2004, etc) reports on the life and crimes of the late Eddie Chapman using interviews, newly released secret files and, cautiously, the English spy’s less-reliable memoirs. Just launching his criminal career when World War II began, the dashing adventurer was jailed in the Channel Island Jersey. Volunteering his services to the occupying Fatherland, he was taken to France and schooled in the dark arts of espionage and the wicked devices of spies by the likes of convivial headmaster Herr von Gröning and spymaster Oberleutnant Praetorius. Then the new German agent signed a formal espionage contract (under which his expected rewards were to be subjected to income tax). Dropped in England’s green and pleasant land to commit sabotage, he instead reported directly to His Majesty’s secret service. There they called their man 'Agent ZigZag.' The Germans had named him “Fritzchen.” Little Fritz, with the help of a magician, fooled his Nazi handlers into believing he had wrecked an aircraft factory. After a crafty return to Germany, he made another parachute drop home to report on an anti-sub device and the accuracy of the new V-1 flying bomb. The energetic adventurer from a lower stratum of British society was being run by Oxbridge gentlemen and by aristocrats of Deutschland at the same time. Or perhaps he was running them. Adorning his exploits were several beautiful women and an Iron Cross. It is a remarkable cloak-and-dagger procedural and a fine tale of unusual wartime employment….
  • One of the great true spy stories of World War II, vividly rendered. Kirkus
  • “[R]ichly descriptive, marvelously illuminating, and just plain brilliant….One could not think of a better subject for Macintyre's curious mind than the man whom British intelligence dubbed Agent Zigzag in December 1942…. [A] plot - impossible and pointless to summarize - that is as briskly paced and suspenseful as any novel's. Macintyre's diligent research and access to once-secret files combine here with his gift of empathetic imagination and inspired re-creation. He writes with brio and a festive spirit and has quite simply created a masterpiece. The Boston Globe
  • Superb. Meticulously researched, splendidly told, immensely entertaining and often very moving. John le Carré
  • Macintyre [relates] his compellingly cinematic spy thriller with verve. Entertainment Weekly (an “EW Pick”)
  • Agent Zigzag is a true-history thriller, a real spy story superbly written. It belongs to my favorite genre: the ‘Friday night book start it then, because you will want to stay with it all weekend.
  • 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
  • “Chapman’s story has been told in fragments in the past, but only when MI5 declassified his files was it possible to present it in all its richness and complexity. Macintyre tells it to perfection, with endless insights into the horror and absurdity of war….Eddie Chapman was a patriot, in his fashion, and this excellent book finally does him justice. The Washington Post Book World
  • Fact sounds like fast-moving fiction in this espionage saga of a man who was probably the most improbable double agent to emerge in World War II. ... The author has written an enormously fascinating book about an enormously fascinating man. The late Eddie Chapman would have been delighted to at last capture the limelight denied him by the restrictions of his wartime profession. The question now is, who will make the movie and who will play the lead? Too bad Errol Flynn is dead. Washington Times

Listener Reviews

Write a Review
  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul | 2/16/2014

    " Lovely real-life tale of a British petty criminal, Eddie Chapman, caught up in the 2nd world war who becomes an agent for the British and the Germans. His courage earnt him an Iron Cross from the Germans and a lot of respect from the British Secret Service. Good holiday read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tami | 1/29/2014

    " Was history this interesting when I was in school? I don't think so . . . "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emma | 1/24/2014

    " half way through, fascinating, well written, and a true account of war time England 1939... with a double agent... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dawn | 1/23/2014

    " Excellent book. He had an amazing life worth reading about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 kappel | 1/22/2014

    " Excellent book, gives a very interesting insight into a, shall we say, versatile personality and the way he maneuvers no matter where he is. I also found the accounts of the establishments of wartime Britain and Germany intriguing, as well as the very clear picture of the social hierarchies. Recommended! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Victoria | 1/20/2014

    " Really enjoyed this. I don't know what I was expecting, but it achieved a great balance between interesting detail about espionage during WW2 and actually being an interesting story. I'd definitely recommend this - it's a very interesting and engaging book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill | 1/17/2014

    " Macintyre is a great author and a fantastic researcher. This book moves at a pace that is almost novel like in its telling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 12/4/2013

    " While I wouldn't state that this is anywhere near "the best book ever" it was a fun read and a good story. The main character had a fascinating life as a crook, as a German prisoner, and as a double-agent for the Nazis and the British... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa | 7/2/2013

    " Wonderful. You don't have to be a history buff or a spy/thriller genre reader. This meticulously researched story is more astounding than fiction, a page-turner. The author knows how to tell a story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 2/4/2013

    " Nonfiction but written more like a mystery. Fascinating story of petty criminal turned double-agent in World War II. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jody | 1/26/2013

    " Fascinating book. I've been on a WWII kick lately, and this nonfiction-that-reads-like-a-spy-thriller fit right in. As always, my complaint is I wanted more, more, more! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melinda | 1/24/2013

    " Like the cover says, it's a story of Nazi espionage. Eddie Chapman was a low life criminal & con man who became one of the most successful double-agents in the Second World War. The story of the deception and what he accomplished is really quite incredible. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joan | 1/3/2013

    " I read this because it was the same author as Operation Mincemeat. I was a little disappointed. I didn't like the main subject, or maybe it was just that I wasn't made to care about him. A story for real WWII buffs, but not quite my type of English breakfast tea. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenny | 7/30/2012

    " The entertaining true (almost too fantastic to be true) story of a British double agent and his exploits. A movie about his life would be more entertaining than a James Bond film. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bill | 4/17/2012

    " Interesting story, very detailed, written well but not a page burner. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shane | 3/20/2011

    " Great read. Very entertaining and well researched. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 11/4/2010

    " It's nonfiction written like a spy novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kipahni | 8/19/2010

    " His life is a movie! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Thomas | 5/23/2010

    " This is the story of the most twisted and unpredictable guy I've ever rooted for. I really enjoyed this book as I continuously wondered which side this guy was really on, and hoped he was on our side. This was another audiobook for me that I just could not turn off. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nick | 2/28/2010

    " Ben Macintyre is an excellent storyteller, researcher and brings real characters to life so well. His humour is great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 5/5/2008

    " True story of a British double agent. Or was he a triple agent? "

About the Author

Ben Macintyre is a writer-at-large for the Times of London and a New York Times bestselling author whose books include A Spy among Friends, Double Cross, Operation Mincemeat, Agent Zigzag, and Rogue Heroes, among others. He has also written and presented BBC documentaries of his work.

About the Narrator

John Lee is the winner of numerous Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration. His has twice won acclaim as AudioFile’s Best Voice in Fiction & Classics. He also narrates video games, does voice-over work, and writes plays. He is an accomplished stage actor and has written and coproduced the feature films Breathing Hard and Forfeit. He played Alydon in the 1963–64 Doctor Who serial The Daleks.