Monday, May 3, 2010

A double life

I happened upon this book in the library and thoroughly enjoyed it. Agent Zigzag: The True Wartime Story of Eddie Chapman, Lover, Betrayer, Hero, Spy. A handsome, yet not overly unique face of an Englishman, Edward Arnold Chapman born November 16, 1914 was headed on a path of crime and years of imprisonment before the second World War.

Stuck in jail for theft, the prison soon became occupied by the Germans who would later transfer him to Fort de Romainville in Paris. And the rest is history... Playing the dangerous game of a double agent, he was first recruited by the Nazis to commit acts of sabotage against his home country. During his almost "fantastical" career he would manage to gain not only the trust and admiration of the Nazi party, but serve as a double agent for MI5, funnelling mis-information into the Axis camp.

Reputed to never get his stories crossed, he was an excellent liar, capable of diverting suspicion during the most compromising situations. The ultimate playboy, he could charm the opposite sex with astonishing ease, maintaining separate relationships to two fiancées on opposite sides during the war, Freda Stevenson in England and Dagmar Lahlum in Norway.

A James Bond in real life! I'm not surprised to learn that Tom Hanks has acquired the rights to the book for a film adaptation. I can't wait.