Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of Publication: November 12th, 2019
Genre: Biography, Memoir
The never-before-told story of Eric Roberts, who infiltrated a network of Nazi sympathizers in Great Britain in order to protect the country from the grips of fascism
June 1940: Europe has fallen to Adolf Hitler’s army, and Britain is his next target. Winston Churchill exhorts the country to resist the Nazis, and the nation seems to rally behind him. But in secret, some British citizens are plotting to hasten an invasion. Agent Jack tells the incredible true story of Eric Roberts, a seemingly inconsequential bank clerk who, in the guise of “Jack King”, helped uncover and neutralize the invisible threat of fascism on British shores. Gifted with an extraordinary ability to make people trust him, Eric Roberts penetrated the Communist Party and the British Union of Fascists before playing his greatest role for MI5: Hitler’s man in London. Pretending to be an agent of the Gestapo, Roberts single-handedly built a network of hundreds of British Nazi sympathizers—factory workers, office clerks, shopkeepers —who shared their secrets with him. It was work so secret and so sensitive that it was kept out of the reports MI5 sent to Winston Churchill.
In a gripping real-world thriller, Robert Hutton tells the fascinating story of an operation whose existence has only recently come to light with the opening of MI5’s WWII files. Drawing on these newly declassified documents and private family archives, Agent Jack shatters the comforting notion that Britain could never have succumbed to fascism and, consequently, that the world could never have fallen to Hitler. Agent Jack is the story of one man who loved his country so much that he risked everything to stand against a rising tide of hate.
Mr. Jones, assistant controller at the Westminster Bank, put down the phone in a puzzled mood.Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter by Robert Hutton
I have been an avid reader of anything to do with WWII and the Holocaust. There are very few things that could shock me about that era. Then I read Agent Jack and had my mind blown.
I don’t know why I was so surprised to read that there were Nazi sympathizers in England. I shouldn’t have been. Considering that Germany is a little over an hour (flying time) from England, it should have made sense. I will admit, it threw me off the book for a little bit. Once I was able to wrap my mind around that, I was able to get somewhat get into Agent Jack.
Agent Jack took me six days to read. Four of those six days were spent traveling. Ever travel with three kids? Then you understand why it took me so long to read. The other reason why it took me so long was that I had to force myself to read and finish the book. Which, if you have done it, isn’t a good thing. I also found it extremely dry. There was a lot of information to process.
There were parts of the book that I found interesting. It involved the MI5, which is England’s equivalent to the US’s CIA. I found it fascinating the politics that went into everything. I haven’t read a lot of books on the MI5, but what I have read caught my interest.
Agent Jack had a wide assortment of people as main characters. But the main guy, the bank clerk who was essential to everything, was fascinating. He kept tabs on 500 people without blowing his cover. Which, to me, is impressive. I can’t even keep tabs on three people without running into issues.
I liked that the author chose to portray the Nazi sympathizers in a way that explains why they felt that way. A lot of these sympathizers were refugees from WWI and harbored anger towards England. They would do anything to help Germany, which included betraying the country that took them in.
The author did a fantastic job of showing what happened to all the key players, good and bad, at the end of the book. I will say that I was inscensed over how Eric Roberts was treated. That poor man gave years and to get treated like that!! Shameful.
I would give Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter an Older teen rating. There is no sex. There is mild language. There is mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.
I would reread Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter. I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**