109 Followers
3 Following
MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

More to come...

Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

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

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal - Ben Macintyre If you had to sit down and make up a list of qualifications to be a spy, what would you select? Ability to lie convincingly. Ability to think quickly on your feet. Ability to commit criminal acts and not get caught. Overweening confidence. Well what would you add if you made up a list of qualifications to be a DOUBLE agent? "Agent Zigzag" is a book about the kind of person it actually took to be a double agent... a spy first for Germany against the British, then a British spy back against the Germans. Before WWII, Eddie Chapman was a petty criminal. Petty, but very smooth and accomplished. Safe breaker, burglar, pick pocket, bank robber, all round flimflam man. In the early 30's he was part of a crime ring known as "The Jelly Gang" that engaged in safe cracking and burglary of expensive merchandise. He learned the art of blowing safes with the high explosive gelignite. He was in and out of prison and jail and thus met many of the "best class criminals" of his time. Eddie lived fast and hard but educated himself and became more cultured in his speech and behavior. He began hanging around the Soho crowd in London and started buying his suits from Savile Row. He became friends with Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, Marlene Dietrich, and Terence Young. Young was a young filmmaker who eventually would direct three James Bond films, "Dr. No", "From Russia with Love", and "Thunderball". In later years when Terence Young was asked about Eddie Chapman, he admitted that Chapman had never made a secret about how he made a living, but that he also had an honest side to his character. In a quote from the book ' "He is a crook and will always be one, " Young said. "But he probably has more principles and honesty of character than either of us." Chapman would steal the money from your pocket, even as he bought you a drink, but he never deserted a friend, nor hurt a soul. In brutal business, he was a pacifist. ' Chapman was in prison during 1939 on the island of Jersey when it eventually was occupied by German forces. He offered to return to Britain as a spy for the Germans and they accepted his proposal. He was then trained for several months in morse code and explosives by a German handler he knew as Dr. Graumann (whose real name was Rittmeister Stephan von Groening). Chapman was given the task to blow up the De Havilland aircraft factory when he arrived in Britain. The Mosquitoes bombers were a very real danger to Germany and Chapman could prove his loyalty as a spy by destroying the factory. When Chapman was parachuted into England, he promptly went to the British Secret Service and told them everything about what he had been asked to do. Then he volunteered to return and spy on the Germans and was accepted into the British agent program as "Agent Zigzag". He was allowed to succeed at his mission, the De Havilland aircraft factory appeared to have been bombed from the air. But in reality Jasper Maskelyne, a professional conjuror who was employed by the War Office faked the damage. Tarps were draped over buildings and painted to simulate the damage from an explosion. From the air, the Germans "saw" evidence that Chapman had indeed fulfilled his duty. He was a trusted agent for them after that. The rest of the book has stories as fantastic as that one, that only seem to build into even more incredible scenarios. One hilarious moment that made me laugh out loud was when Chapman's British handler was preparing him for a daring job in Lisbon. After Chapman had taken off for his new job, his British spy handler discovered that Chapman had picked his pocket and taken his gold plated scissors and nail file! This book is a fantastic read. Very well written and superbly researched. I got this book from the library, but will be purchasing it to add to our library as we begin studying WWII.