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Zigzag: The Incredible Wartime Exploits of Double Agent Eddie Chapman

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  694 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Eddie Chapman, con man, womanizer, safe-cracker, was the most remarkable double agent of World War II. Nicholas Booth delivers an enthralling account of his long and extraordinary life.
Kindle Edition, 408 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Arcade Publishing (first published January 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Derek Nudd
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were parts of this story I had come across before, such as the amazing fake sabotage of an aircraft factory, but Nicholas Booth does an excellent and readable job of stringing the whole narrative together. He brings out the isolation of a double agent's life mirrored in the contradictions of Chapman's personality. Was he unfairly treated as someone from the wrong side of every imaginable track, or did his handlers accurately perceive an acute risk from a flaky character who was liable to ...more
Gerald Sinstadt
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eddie Chapman, the subject of Nicholas Booth's engrossing biography, was essentially a man of his time and generation. From a modest background in Sunderland, his craving for excitement led him to London where he mixed with criminals as a safe-cracker, to Jersey where he landed in prison, and to occupied France where he threw himself into the arms of German Intelligence. The Germans trained him as a spy and saboteur and parachuted him into England where he threw himself into the arms of British ...more
ZigZag - Nicholas Booth
truth <= stranger <= fiction. If this was fiction you wouldn't believe it.
This i guess is the authorized version. There must have been a race at some point when Macintyre and Booth found out about each other's work. The competition probably benefited both.
This book is well detailed and well researched. It's pretty incredible; the pacing is that the main part of the book is the detail for about four years and then a one chapter Epilogue for 1945 to 1997 where things
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this a solid 3.5 stars. It was an interesting, albeit, information-packed book about how a spy -a double agent at that- worked and lived, schemed and planned, in wartime Europe. There was so much detail, however, that by the very end, I found myself skimming through the epilogue as I had no need to read detailed tidbits of fact that had been referenced throughout the book.

Whenever I hear the phrase "the man, the myth, the legend" from now on, I'll likely think of Eddie Chapman. Like
Ken Fitzgerald
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a delightfully wry voice, Nicholas Booth tells the fascinating true story of Eddie Chapman, aka Agent ZigZag, in WWII. A career criminal and con man before the war, Chapman continued running his game by persuading German captors to employ him as a spy against Britain, before turning on Germany to become a highly regarded double agent for Britain's M15 spy service. Chapman is a confounding but compelling character, and the book includes a thoughtful examination of the art of spycraft, ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Incredible true story of a "secret" agent Eddie Chapman who works for both the Germans and the British. Eddie is a small town criminal, womanizer and boozer who ends up in jail in the islands off the coast of France. When the Brits vacate the island upon the German invasion, Eddie and the rest of the prisoners become German prisoners. Eddie comes up with the idea of using his skills to betray the British in order to become in favor of his German captors and it works. His exploits are at times ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic read made even more fascinating by the fact its based on true life events and the experience of a real life double agent!!!!
I couldnt help but fall in love with the loveable rouge Eddie, his cheeky characteristic charm shines through and the drama and suspense in his real life antics are a fantastic read.
I loved this book and couldnt put it down I definitely recommend it.
Dec 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of Eddie Chapman, a small time English thief who becomes a Nazi spy and later a double agent for MI5. Like its subject, the book is haphazard and disorganized. It is never clear if Chapman was a patriot or a traitor. It is an interesting story but it does not flow as well as I prefer.
Teri Siciliani
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting Story

Not very well written but a very interesting story. Definitely not well edited. Should have combined the first and second part of the book together to create a more fluid story.
Walter T. Mara
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great read

This book was fascinating reading especially for someone like me, born in Europe during ww2. Obviously well researched, but some of th German words were rather mangled :=)
Fred Donaldson
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dense with suspense

Thankfully the book speeds along with only the necessary details to keep the narrative moving. Lots of research is provided at the end in noes, bibliography and the index. Great reference for scholars, but fascinating read for suspense lovers.
Scott Holstad
So very boring. Protagonist unimpressive and overrated. Utterly pointless book. Couldn't finish it. Not recommended.
The story is really quite incredible but I found the book a bit dull. Im not sure if it was the writing or the pacing of the story. Still, Im happy to have read it. ...more
Grant Mccrea
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy WWII history with a slant on spy efforts, you will enjoy this book. It is the non-fiction story of Eddie Chapman, one of Britains finest spies. ...more
Lew Kaye-skinner
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a fascinating look into British espionage during WWII. It would be interesting to have a similar account from the German point of view.
Graham Hill
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great story of wartime heroism and adventures that I highly recommend as an audio book.
Luci K. Subica
Nov 20, 2019 rated it liked it

Interesting book. Reading this book makes a person wonder about war and people themselves. It wasnt a wow book for me, just a little interesting.
Allen Batchelar
Didn't really finish he book. There's just no other way to get rid of it off my reading list. Did not find the character or the story interesting.
Richard Pearson
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not bad; interesting back story to WWII

I enjoyed most of the book. At times it was a bit long but enjoyed the intrigue. Its a story we dont hear much about.
Marty Smith
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
An amazing story very-well told.

Eddie Chapman's war exploits are truly amazing. What a character! Author Nicholas Booth's research and telling of the story provides full details without getting into the weeds. The reader is allowed to be surprised and amazed in this thoroughly enjoyable story.
Tavner Delcamp
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii
'Zig Zag: The Incredible Wartime Exploits of Double Agent Eddie Chapman' (2007, by Nicholas Booth, relates the exploits of a remarkable man, Arnold Edward Chapman, known as "Eddie", before, during and after World War II. Chapman played an important role along with many others in the espionage/counter-espionage effort which helped to influence the outcome of the war. The role of the double agents, aided by Ultra, the secret British operation that decrypted German intelligence signals throughout ...more
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book that I read about Eddie Chapman and this one was quite sympathetic to him, seeing him as a lone warrior against hypocrisy and the establishment. I'm sure that most of the authority figures in Chapman's life (including his masters at MI-5) were skeptical of his motives and his way of life. After all, Chapman had been an army deserter and a thief before he became a Nazi spy and then a double agent. However, Chapman was self centered and adapted circumstances to his ...more
Marc Stevens
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work is very well researched, and the writing is excellent.

Where I take issue with the story is in the motivations of its protagonist, Eddie Chapman. From a pre-war life of petty crime, and complete disregard for civility, we are asked to believe that Chapman (while languishing in a hell-hole of a jail in the Channel Islands) has had a crisis of conscience, and offers himself up as fodder for British Intelligence. But to do so, he must first get himself recruited by the Nazis' intelligence
Joseph Teller
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I picked up this book via Amazon (used) after hearing a radio interview on the BBC with the author, Nicolas Booth.

It's not your normal biography, as it was a long time coming because of the British government. It originally started with a different author... it started to be written shortly after WWII... by Eddie Chapman himself, but time and again MI5 and other parts of the British government went to great effort to destroy the manuscript, burn an early print run and basically prevent people
Robin Webster
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the start of the Second World War Eddie Chapman was a charismatic career criminal and a womanizer. He was wanted in England for serious offences which could see him sentenced to twelve years in prison. After a series of events he found himself imprisoned by the Germans in France wrongly suspected of sabotage in the Channel Islands. If that wasnt story enough for one book, he then became one of the most notorious double agents of the Second World War receiving the Iron Cross for his services ...more
Ronald Roseborough
ZigZag is the true story of Eddie Chapman, a double agent for the British in World War II. His early life as a career criminal, was interrupted when he was captured on the Isle of Jersey, by the invading Germans. After some time in jail, he convinced the German's he would spy on England for them. He was trained in espionage and dropped by parachute into England , where his first act was to turn himself in and offer to work for the British as a double agent against the Germans. His life is a ...more
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Zigzag' is an overall great read. His exploits are almost larger than life, thus (in my experience) can only be true. His personality and motivations could not have better been suited for anything else than a double agent.

My only real criticism with this book is the involvement of Chapman's wife. Eddie Chapman, as we all can assume, was a womanizing, double crossing, and rotten character, and many of these traits were disregarded by his wife whose word Nicholas Booth seems to take a bit
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was ok

Okay, maybe Eddie Chapman did help the Allied war effort somehow (although I have my doubts). But Booth is so obviously biased to show "Zigzag" in a positive light that he glosses over all of his reprehensible behavior. Every time he describes Chapman's propensity for boredom whenever the action wanes a bit, it's as if he's describing a three-year-old, not a cunning spy. Apparently Eddie had Attention Deficit Disorder, or he was simply a liar who always looked out for his own best
Allison Sandve
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Zigzag" is one of those books that makes me feel like I owe an endless debt of gratitude to "Weekend Edition" on NPR with Scott Simon. I first heard an interview with the author on NPR a few years ago and was instantly intrigued.

And this book delivers. Eddie was a fascinating real-life character -- an adventurer, a crook, a lover and user of ladies, a patriot.

This book would make a great gift for history buffs and anyone interested in character studies. I have to admit it: Despite his
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Nicholas Booth is a British author and broadcaster. Starting out as a science writer for national newspapers, he later worked in television and mobile publishing. Now he writes about unusual characters and unlikely events from history. His biography of the double agent Eddie Chapman, Zigzag, was highly acclaimed and will be made into a film. The Thieves of Threadneedle Street published in the U.S. ...more

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