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Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5's Secret Nazi Hunter
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Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5's Secret Nazi Hunter

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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  126 ratings  ·  35 reviews
This is the incredible tale of Operation Fifth Column, a Second World War MI5 operation so secret that its existence was only revealed by the National Archives for the first time in 2014.

It's the true story behind Kate Atkinson's "Transcription" and Anthony Quinn's "Our Friends In Berlin".

Throughout the war, "Jack King" - in reality, a bank clerk named Eric Roberts -
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 6th 2018 by W&N
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  126 ratings  ·  35 reviews


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Donna Hines
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
Can you imagine trying to research something that's been kept hidden for many years unsealed and locked up tight?
Well folks Robert Hutton had his work cut out for him as he dug deep into the trenches to uncover some of the most unique and fascinating truths about the espionage and counter terrorism that ran rampant in the late 30's early 40's time period.
Eric Roberts was a bank clerk trying to infiltrate a group of Nazi sympathizers and working as a Gestapo spy.
Working undercover was a dangerous
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Molly
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
AGENT JACK

True story, or as true as can be expected, of Eric Roberts aka Jack King, British M15 undercover spy during WWII.

He worked as a supposed undercover Gestapo intermediary gathering information on the Fifth Column, Nazi sympathizers living within Britain. He was in reality employed by the British Security Service. His fascist “agents” gave him information, expecting it to be forwarded to the leaders of the Third Reich in Germany. Roberts instead reported their anti-Allies schemes and
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Casey Wheeler
his book is about the search for German sympathizers within England during World War II. It revolves around former banker Eric Roberts known as "Jack Kelly" to the British Union which was full of German sympathizers. The book is well written which makes for an interesting read. None of the exposed Nazi "friendlies" that Roberts interacted with were ever sent to prison as that would have exposed his alias.

I recommend this book for those looking for what went on within Great Britian itself during
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Chris
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
Agent Jack is the true story of Eric Roberts, who at first look, seemed to be your typical run of the mill bank clerk. What nobody really knew is that Mr. Roberts was in fact a highly talented MI5 agent known as Jack King, who excelled in infiltrating underground Fascist groups and fleshing out Nazi sympathizers in England during World War 2. He used his abilities to lure people in and make them think they were spying for the Gestapo, when in reality, they were actually spying for MI5, who saved ...more
Stephen Goldenberg
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yet another book that continues the process of uncovering the long hidden stories of the work of MI5 during the war on counter-espionage. Robert Hutton has dug out and tracked down wealth of material on the activities of Eric Roberts, a bank clerk, who was co-opted to infiltrate groups of Nazi sympathisers in Britain and pose as a Gestapo spy passing on any spying information they could gather to Germany. It uncovers a very murky aspect of the home front a long way from the stiff upper lips and ...more
Jade
This story is absolutely fascinating! Most of the events and history of this whole story were redacted or classified for decades (until 2014), and the amount of research that must have gone into writing this story from beginning to end is incredible! For that alone I recommend reading this book.

Agent Jack is the story of Eric Roberts, a bank clerk with the ability to make people like and trust him, who becomes an MI5 agent. Before WW2 he infiltrates groups of Communists and then Fascists, but
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David Lowther
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Agent Jack is a very interesting story about the weeding out and rendering ineffective of UK citizens who held ultra right wing views and were willing to help the Nazis. Robert Hutton has undergone a good deal of research and come up with a gripping tale about one man spending several years working dangerously undercover with a determined, and ever growing, group of fascists sympathisers.

One of those also involved in this work is Victor Rothschild and it was most disturbing to hear how he, as a
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Gaele
I don’t know if I would instantly have grabbed this title to read had it not been based on a man, and a story, that helped to inspire Kate Atkinson’s book, Transcription. While I read that and found the story gripping, I had issues with the main character’s choices and repeated ‘missteps’, and while I know that much of the information was based in fact, I had only a passing interest in the “story behind the inspiration” until I was told of this book.

Essentially what Hutton has done is pull
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Thelastwordreview
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Delighted to share my thoughts on the story of the MI5 agent at the very heart of Operation Fifth Column, which was the covert WWII operation that was to flush out Nazi sympathisers on British Soil.

Just a few words on what the book is about: June 1940 and Britain stands alone as Hitler eyes his next prize across the channel. Codenamed ‘Jack King’ Eric Roberts who was a former Bank Clerk from Epsom in Surrey. He was recruited into MI5 and then went on to become Hitler’s man in London. This whole
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Glady
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received a free ARC of Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5's Secret Nazi Hunter from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Layers upon layers. Deceit hidden within deceit. Years of lies and half-truths that must be remembered. Spies hiding in plain sight. Nazis unwittingly working for British intelligence. These are the elements of the British efforts to curtail German spying on British soil in the 1930s and 1940s.

Eric Roberts was just an ordinary guy. He wasn't particularly well educated
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Jolie
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been an avid reader of anything to do with WWII and the Holocaust. There are very few things that could shock me about that era. Then I read Agent Jack and had my mind blown.

I don’t know why I was so surprised to read that there were Nazi sympathizers in England. I shouldn’t have been. Considering that Germany is a little over an hour (flying time) from England, it should have made sense. I will admit, it threw me off the book for a little bit. Once I was able to wrap my mind around that,
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Janet
I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do .

The never-before-told story of Eric Roberts, who infiltrated a network of Nazi sympathizers in Great Britain in order to protect the country from the grips of fascism

June 1940: Europe has fallen to Adolf Hitler’s army, and Britain is his next target.
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Jean Kolinofsky
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the major battles of WWII that started before the declaration of war and continued to the end of hostilities and beyond was fought by those in Intelligence. Robert Hutton presents the story of Eric Roberts, an operative of MI5 who infiltrated the British Union of Fascists and later posed as a Gestapo agent operating on British soil. He was responsible for recruiting British citizens who supported Germany and offered their assistance in paving the way for Germany’s invasion of England. ...more
Jean Kolinofsky
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the major battles of WWII that started before the declaration of war and continued to the end of hostilities and beyond was fought by those in Intelligence. Robert Hutton presents the story of Eric Roberts, an operative of MI5 who infiltrated the British Union of Fascists and later posed as a Gestapo agent operating on British soil. He was responsible for recruiting British citizens who supported Germany and offered their assistance in paving the way for Germany’s invasion of England. ...more
Anne
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Agent Jack by Robert Hutton is billed as the True Story of MI5's Secret Nazi Hunter and it certainly lives up to that billing. I am not normally a reader of non-fiction but this title enthralled me and I found it deceptively easy to read. The style was narrative and very engaging-what a great story and true. It is so easy to get lost in the Holocaust that many of us forget the greater picture of World War II and England is a huge part of that as the next target on Hitler's list. England suffered ...more
Nancy
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Hidden Story of WWII Espionage

During WWII a number of individuals in Great Britain sympathized with the Nazis and were eager to supply secret information to them. This is the story of Eric Roberts, a bank clerk, who as Jack King formed these traitors into a network that supplied him with information that he passed to MI5.

Roberts was known a something of a daredevil, but was very personable and able to attract people to him. He had done some spy work for MI5 before the war and wanted to get
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Heather
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Received an advanced copy in exchange for a fair review.

It took some time to get into this story, mostly because of an ever-increasing cast of characters that got a little dizzying at times. Once I got into the narrative, however, this story of WWII espionage tactics which were only unearthed piece by piece in the last five years ago was really interesting and compelling.

I would recommend reading the note at the end first, because what you then read is much more fascinating when you realize how
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Ann
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: espionage
This book treats one of the less glamorous forms of espionage conducted during WWII : keeping tabs on fascist and nazi groups in Britain. The star agent here was "Jack King", who managed to insinuate himself within the various pro-Germany circles in the UK. Over the years he grew his network to several hundred people, with perhaps a dozen or so Nazi sympathizers actively collecting information. They then relayed these reports back to him, believing him to be an undercover Gestapo agent.

This
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Susan
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Agent Jack tells the true story of Eric Roberts, a seemingly forgettable bank clerk who worked undercover investigating Nazi sympathizers in England during World War II.

Impeccably researched using newly released records and family papers, this biography tells not only the story of Roberts’ (a.k.a., Jack King’s) life, but also the stories of his associates—both true Fascists and those who pretended to be. The three-page list of characters and their associations at the beginning of the book is
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Yvonne
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Fascinating book. Until I read this I had no idea that there was such a large number of facist, Nazi Germany supporting, ordinary people in Britain in the 1930s and 40s. We all know of Oswald Mosley and other upper class fascists ( including members of the royal family) but far less is known about those obscure individuals who ran shops or worked in industry etc..These were the people who believed they were helping Nazi Germany when in fact they were being duped by a talented MI5 agent Eric ...more
John Kaye
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Having read M, about Maxwell Knight, this book picks up one of the characters and expands on the activities of Eric Roberts as a superbly effective counter-espionage agent. But the story has far too many characters, perhaps not surprisingly as at the end of the war, Roberts had sight of around 500 fifth columnists. Even the main fifth columnists don't really come alive as people, and it's very hard to put these anti-fifth column activities into context all the other work being done by MI5. Henry ...more
Reeca Elliott
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, kindle-app
Eric Roberts...aka Agent Jack is a bank clerk. He becomes an agent for the British MI5. He actually infiltrates groups of communists and fascist. Then after WWII breaks out he becomes a Gestapo Agent...or does he. He is actually a double agent reporting everything to the MI5 agency.Most of Agent Jack's story was classified until 2014. I cannot imagine trying to research about this fascinating man and all his exploits. This book is so well researched and full of compelling information. However, I ...more
Abby
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am sorry, I am going to be "odd man out"! As others would give this a 4-5 star rating, I would rate this book 2-1/2 stars! I found this book tedious at times and there was many times I almost gave up on reading it to completion! There were way too many people to keep track of who was who …and, in particular, what they did! I found the last of the book more interesting …especially the ending! I will give the author kudos on the research and his style of writing! What I did take away from this ...more
Dennis Rutzou
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book about an aspect of society in wartime Britain that up to now has been largely swept under the carpet. Sure we were confronted by the Communist spies in the secret service in the cold war period, but were not aware of the active spies for Nazi Germany during the dark days when a German invasion was anticipated and up to the end of the war. I found the story of the work of the spymaster Eric Roberts to be absorbing and thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants a ...more
Rachel
Nov 10, 2019 marked it as unreadable  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I love spy thrillers and I was really looking forward to this true story of espionage, but boy is it dry! Because this was an ARC through NetGalley, I gave it probably two to three times as many pages before bailing as I would otherwise, just out of guilt and a sense of obligation, but the pace never picked up. I’m sure it was meticulously researched, but the writing style didn’t work for me at all. It felt like reading a textbook, and I prefer my nonfiction to be more engaging and compelling.
Jay Williams
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a non-fiction book covering the activities of a relatively unknown British operative during the second world war. It started a little like a textbook, but became much more interesting. The narrative reveals much about the layers of deception involved in the subversive activities of the war. It also reflects more evidence that the war was won in spite of incredible stupidity and errors on both sides.
Tom Boniface-Webb
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyable look at MI5’s hunt to uncover the secret Fifth Column of Nazi infiltrating Britain during the Second World War. When they find there isn’t one they decide to create it themselves to help catch any Nazi sympathisers. Fantastic premise and the book reads just like a thriller, with the added drama of it all having happened.
Jennifer Danner
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This tells the story of a history that I didn't even know existed. The level of detail is incredible! It reads like a spy novel but recounts an accurate history ... you definitely get more bang for your buck with this book! The author's level of research and attention to detail are evident. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes spy novels and to those who like to read about history!
Kim Fox
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This is really a well written book, and the research is amazingly well done. However, I struggled finishing this book. There are a lot of people in this book and I had a hard time keeping them straight.

Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
Wilde Sky
An account of the exploits of a WWII spy.

I could not get into this book, the writing was dry and the structure was poor.

Reading time around five hours.
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As UK political correspondent for Bloomberg, Robert Hutton can be seen wandering into shot on 24-hour news, or phoning in copy in the background during prime ministerial trips abroad. It was during one such trip, waiting for a 4am plane in Jordan, that he tweeted a list of words only used by journalists. That was to become the start of his Journalese collection, Romps, Tots And Boffins.

It was his
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