The reviewer compares the biographies of two cosmopolitan Czech intellectuals: The Social Agent: A True Intrigue of Sex, Spies, and Heartbreak Behind the Iron Curtain (2010), by Charles Laurence is about the writer Jiří Mucha (1915–1991). The Nine Lives of Otto Katz (2011), by Jonathan Miles is about the journalist Otto Katz (1895–1952) who worked to promote the Communist movement in interwar Europe and abroad. Katz was eventually sentenced in the Slánkský show trials and was then put to death. Whereas Miles, on the basis of wide-ranging archive records, seeks to give an objective account of Katz’s life, Laurence tells Mucha’s story from a subjective standpoint as part of his own complicated family history. According to the reviewer, Laurence makes his points more compellingly than Miles, thanks in part to his effective literary style; Miles, by contrast, remains in the grip of the sources and their apparent objectivity, thus failing to pay enough attention to the historical context.