Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5's Secret Nazi Hunter (Hardcover)
"An appealing mix of accessibility and research. [Hutton] has illuminated a fascinating and often appalling side of the war at home." — Wall Street Journal
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 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.
Robert Hutton has been Bloomberg’s UK Political Correspondent since 2004. Before that he was a reporter on the Daily Mirror, and before that he built robots and taught computers to play Bridge at Edinburgh University. He’s married with two sons, and lives in South East London.
Hutton's previous books include Would They Lie to You? and Romps, Tots and Boffins: The Strange Language of News.
"Capably bringing to light a forgotten World War II story, British political correspondent Hutton ... has done an impressive job assembling transcripts, letters, interviews, and declassified documents into a delicious spy story. A delightful account of World War II espionage."
—Kirkus starred review
"This entertaining, detailed narrative presents a chilling portrait of England under siege."
"Robert Hutton has written a well-researched, highly readable account of Roberts's strange undercover life." —Ben Macintyre, The Times
"Eye-opening from start to finish. Pacy, original and frequently chilling, Hutton offers a fascinating new take on the story of the Home Front."—Henry Hemming, author of M: Maxwell Knight, MI5's Greatest Spymaster
"Robert Hutton's deeply researched, often astounding book describes how a loose network of homegrown fascists plotted to undermine wartime Britain, and explains the ingenious way MI5 attempted to neutralise them ... Hutton includes transcripts of eavesdropped conversations with these fanatics that would make your hair stand on end." —Anthony Quinn, Guardian