Zigzag: The Incredible Wartime Exploits of Double Agent Eddie Chapman

Nicholas Booth, Author . Arcade $26.99 (386p) ISBN 978-1-55970-860-9

Broadcaster and author Booth (The Encyclopedia of Space ) mines the newly released World War II records of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI5) for this lively and sympathetic account of celebrated double agent Eddie Chapman. A petty criminal, Chapman was incarcerated in a Jersey jail when the Germans occupied the Channel Islands in 1940. After his release, he offered to work for German military intelligence and received training as a saboteur and spy in occupied France. He parachuted into England in 1942 with orders to blow up an aircraft factory, but contacted British intelligence once on the ground. Despite their misgivings—his handlers variously described Chapman as “a very strange character” and “a man without any scruples”—MI5 employed him as a double agent for the remainder of the war. There are legitimate questions as to the enigmatic Chapman's motivation, but Booth, who collaborated with Chapman's widow, Betty, invariably sides with the double agent against his critics. In Booth's judgment, Chapman was the “most remarkable spy of the Second World War,” and his treatment by British intelligence was “shameful.” Whether rogue or patriot, his story makes for intriguing reading, but Booth's transparent cheerleading for Chapman detracts from an otherwise enjoyable biography. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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