Book review: the gripping true WWII spy story ‘Double Cross’

As Ben Macintyre points out in Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, the relationship between cricket (that most English of sports) and spying (at which the British have always excelled) is deep-rooted and unique. Something about the game attracts the sort of mind also drawn to the secret worlds of intelligence and counter-intelligence ­— for both are complex tests of brain and brawn, high-stakes games of honour and ruthless good manners interwoven with trickery, dependent on minute gradations of physics and psychology interwoven with tea breaks.

Continue reading


I realised yesterday that it was, in fact, Saturday, and not Friday as I had thought. Given that Friday is my usual posting day, I thought there was no harm in saving the post for next week. I have reviews of Ben Macintyre’s Double Cross: The True Story of D-Day Spies and James Runcie’s Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death lined up; along with something very special: I asked some of my favourite bloggers a few questions, and will amalgamate their responses into a post soon.

In other news, the Flash Fiction Foray round up on ‘Once Upon A Dream’ is coming tomorrow, there are currently six responses (with two newcomers!) – but it’s not too late to write your take…

Incredible true tale of World War II double agent

From 'The Times'
From ‘The Times’

It was Mark Twain who said that “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t”. Never has this held true more than in the case of Eddie Chapman, a figure whose story is so impossible, that MI5 stated that his tale was “different. In fiction it would be rejected as improbable”. In Agent Zigzag, Ben Macintyre has woven together the threads of a story which brings an entirely new level to the word ‘unbelievable’. It could be a blockbuster Hollywood spy film, complete with near constant explosions. But it’s not-because it’s all true, Chapman was probably the most successful British double agent in the war, and one of the best in history.

Continue reading