Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club Vol. XXXVIII
OK, pseudo-intellectuals, grab a cloak and a dagger because it's time for some cloak and dagger.
Eddie Chapman, known by his code name as Agent Zigzag, was a criminal and a con man with a taste for adventure. Serving a stint in prison when he fell into the hands of invading Germans at the beginning of World War II, Chapman offered his services to the Germans as a spy.
After considerable training, Chapman was dropped by parachute back into England, whereupon he turned himself in to British authorities and offered his services to them to deceive the Germans. Thereafter, he was a master double-agent, radioing Germany false and misleading information when he was in England and returning with useful and accurate information back to England from his trips to France or Germany.
One thing kept him alive: Chapman never zigged when he should have zagged.
A few years ago, MI5, the British spy agency, released a treasure trove of documents about Chapman's career, allowing author Ben Macintyre to turn it into a highly readable story about World War II spycraft. So it is that "Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love and Betrayal" is the latest selection from Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.
Chapman was, to say the least, a cool hand. Whether he was running a scam, romancing a dame or up to his neck in intrigue, he excelled.
Deceit is the sort of thing that doesn't come naturally to most people. But it's necessary in war, and Chapman was a key operative in Britain's attempt to keep Germany off balance with bad information.
What's interesting to only a slightly lesser extent is that Chapman's work, whether he was with his German spy friends or his British colleagues, left him plenty of time for recreation and a lavish expense account for entertainment. Rarely has one man done so much for his country and had so much good, dirty fun in the process.
Here are previous recommendations from Jim's Pseudo-Intellectual Book Club.
[-] "Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission" by Hampton Sides.
[-] "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris.
[-] "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord.
[-] "April 1865: The Month That Saved America" by Jay Winik.
[-] "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" by Laura Hillenbrand.
[-] "Lindbergh" by A. Scott Berg.
[-] "The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963" by Laurence Leamer.
[-] "The Brother: The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case" by Sam Roberts.
[-] "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy" by Jane Leavy.
[-] "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" by Ben Mezrich.
[-] "Harry & Ike: The Partnership That Remade the Post-War World" by Steve Neal.
[-] "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis.
[-] "Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone" by Martin Dugard.
[-] "In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors" by Doug Stanton.
[-] "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34." by Bryan Burrough.
[-] "Flags of our Fathers," by James Bradley.
[-] "Cary Grant: A Biography" by Marc Elliot.
[-] "Three Nights in August: Strategy, Heartbreak and Joy Inside the Mind of a Manager" by Buzz Bissinger.
[-] "Boss Tweed: The Rise and Fall of the Corrupt Pol Who Conceived the Soul of Modern New York" by Kenneth Ackerman.
[-] "They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967" by David Maraniss.
[-] "Flashman" (a novel) by George MacDonald Fraser.
[-] "Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and A World on the Brink" by David Margolick.
[-] "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics and the Battle for the Soul of a City" by Jonathan Mahler.
[-] "Five Families: the Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires" by Selwyn Raab.
[-] "The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and the Golden Age of Basketball." by John Taylor.
[-] "American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies" by Michael Kauffman.
[[-] "The Looming Tower: al-Qaida and the Road to 9/11" by Lawrence Wright.
[- ) "A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports" by Brad Snyder.
[-] "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis.
[-] "The Education of a Coach" by David Halberstam.
[-] "Arc of Justice: A Sage of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age" by Kevin Boyle
[-] "The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived The Great American Dust Bowl" by Timothy Egan.
[-] "The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case" by James Neff.
[-] The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House" by John Harris.
[-] "FDR" by Jean Edward Smith
(-0) The Unlikely Spy (a novel) by Daniel Silva.