Biography, Historical, Non Fiction

Agent Jack by Robert Hutton

cover167989-mediumJune 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 World War II 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.

Several years ago, I helped a man research information on the British Union of Fascists and Oswald Mosley. That was the first time I had ever heard of Nazi sympathizers and agitators in England during World War II. At the time, I found it mildly interesting but not enough to do further research of my own, so I was happy to dive into this dry but fascinating book about Agent Jack.

The cloak-and-dagger element of the undercover agent whose work was so secret that no one knew about it for decades is a definite hook to get people to pick up the book. I found the first couple of chapters to be a little dry, with lots of names and strands of stories introduced. However, it all starts to come together and results in a solid historical offering. Recommended.

Publication Date: November 12, 2019
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy