cover image Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal

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

Ben Macintyre, . . Harmony, $25.95 (364pp) ISBN 978-0-307-35340-5

London Times associate editor Macintyre (The Man Who Would Be King ) adroitly dissects the enigmatic World War II British double agent Eddie Chapman in this intriguing and balanced biography. Giving “little thought” to the morality of his decision, Chapman offered to work as a spy for the Germans in 1940 after his release from an English prison in the Channel Islands, then occupied by the Germans. After undergoing German military intelligence training, Chapman parachuted into England in December 1942 with instructions to sabotage a De Havilland aircraft factory, but he surrendered after landing safely. Doubled by MI5 (the security service responsible for counterespionage), Chapman was used “to feed vital disinformation to the enemy” and was one of the few double agents “to delude their German handlers until the end of the war.” Meticulously researched—relying extensively on recently released wartime files of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service—Macintyre's biography often reads like a spy thriller. In the end, the author concludes that Chapman “repeatedly risked his life... [and] provided invaluable intelligence,” but “it was never clear whether he was on the side of the angels or the devils.” Of the two Zigzag biographies this fall (the other, by Nicholas Booth, is reviewed below), this is clearly superior. (Oct. 9)