The Social Agent: A True Intrigue of Sex, Spies, and Heartbreak Behind the Iron Curtain

Charles Laurence, Author . Ivan R. Dee $26 (230p) ISBN 978-1-56663-845-6

Looking back at the espionage game in 1950s Prague, Lawrence, whose father was a high-ranking British diplomat, places his family squarely in a social and historical context amid repressive secret police, family secrets, and tragedy. A former foreign correspondent for the London Telegraph, Lawrence paints candid portraits of his cool, aloof father, his emotionally needy mother, and his older sister, who was starving herself to death. One of the most fascinating characters is double agent Jiri Mucha, the flamboyant son of famed art nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, who is at the core of the narrative. He had friendships with such luminaries as Philip Roth, Peter Ustinov, Andy Warhol, Graham Greene, and Dylan Thomas. Researching “old spook files,” Lawrence tries to uncover whether Mucha spied for the Czech secret police and seduced Lawrence's mother, and he finds many more questions than answers. A snapshot of a time and place filled with spies, Stalinist tyranny, and deadly Iron Curtain antics, Lawrence's recollections of his family and their bittersweet taste of the Czech diplomatic life are crisp and pull no punches—about Mucha or his own family. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/18/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
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