Eddie Chapman was a not-so-small-time crook in the 1930s. He helped run a gang of safecrackers in London. (Well, not so much safecrackers, since what they really did was blow them up.) He was captured by British police on the island of Jersey and put into prison just before the war started. When the Germans invaded the island, Eddie saw a chance to get out and volunteered to spy for the Germans. As soon as he got back to England, he immediately turned himself in and volunteered to spy for Britain. For the rest of the war, he was a British spy and managed to keep the Germans convinced of his loyalty all the way until the end of the war. There are a couple of comments in the book from the British agents (part of the Twenty Committee) about why Chapman became a double agent and why he chose to go back to the continent after being relatively safe in Britain. The conclusion seems to be that he did it for the adventure. He must have been one of those guys who needs constant, terrifying excitement in order to be happy.
Agent Zigzag has two things going for it. First, the story is incredible. If it weren't so well documented, you'd have a hard time believing any of this was real. Chapman was incredibly charming and lucky; he got away with things that I don't think anyone else has before or since. Second, Macintyre does a wonderful job writing this story with the flair that it deserves. One of the reasons that I don't read non-fiction much is because I often find them slow going, dull in many places, and/or the writers don't have the knack for making the subjects come to life. The people in this book pop off of the page and there is rarely a dull moment.
I read this book in about three days. This is a personal record for me; it's the shortest time I've every spent reading a work of non-fiction. If you know any WWII buffs or people who are into espionage, I really recommend this book.