People's Warrior: John Moss and the Fight for Freedom of Information and Consumer Rights

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9781611474718: People's Warrior: John Moss and the Fight for Freedom of Information and Consumer Rights
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It is hard to believe that there was a time, not long ago, when there was no right to obtain government information, no protection against hazards in children's toys and other consumer products, no federal safety standards for motor vehicles, and no insurance to protect an investors' money and securities in brokerage accounts. These and other consumer rights were created only after fierce political battles in the decade between 1966 and 1976. People's Warrior is the untold story of that era and one of its towering leaders, Congressman John Moss. Based on previously undisclosed materials and interviews with key players of the time People's Warrior tells the story of a stormy decade in America, one in which key laws, such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Consumer Product Safety Act were enacted by Congress, despite overwhelming political opposition. It is also the improbable story of one man's life and determination. Moss fought for twelve years, against three presidents and at times his own party, for a freedom of information law that has stood the test of time and been copied around the world. Although at first stymied by special interests, he won sweeping consumer protection reforms. He went on to challenge Wall Street in an intense battle to enact major new investor protection laws. What happened to Moss and his progressive agenda in later decades, and what the future may bring for that agenda, make up the final part of this compelling story of a man and an era.

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About the Author:

Michael R. Lemov served as chief counsel to John Moss for eight years and as general counsel of the National Commission on Product Safety.

Review:

During his tenure as a larger-than-life member of Congress, John Moss was a major force in the development of our competitive capital markets and enhancing the oversight powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Michael Lemov has done an outstanding job of capturing Moss's intellect, charisma and contributions, in this important history of that era and Moss's illustrious career. (Harvey Pitt, former chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission)

It requires tenacity to pry important, sometimes damaging public information out of the government. No one was more tenacious than Congressman John Moss, who spent 12 years fighting to enact the Freedom of information Act. We should be grateful for his vision and leadership. His life and the story of that battle to enact a basic American freedom, is well told in Michael Lemov's wonderful biography. (Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)

An insightful history of a time when Congress actually responded to the American people and crucial laws to protect the consumer and guarantee freedom of information to the public were enacted. A story of the battles of one determined man and a real-life lesson you are not likely to read in a text book. (Peter Harkness, Founding Publisher, Governing Magazine, and former Editor, Congressional Quarterly)

A new book People's Warrior: John Moss and the Fight for Freedom of Information and Consumer Rights has just been published. Lovingly prepared by his former chief counsel, Michael Lemov, this work tells the amazing story of one man's determination to make government information accessible to the public. He has an amazing record of public service, from his work on the Consumer Product Safety Act to the Securities Investor Protection Act and so much more. It's almost unthinkable now, but before John Moss, average citizens and the media did not have the right to see government information. People's Warrior shines a light on an amazing life of public service. (Al Gore's Blog, Algore.Com)

...it's a day to remember underappreciated Americans who have made a big difference. I've just finished reading a book about one of them: the late John Moss, who from the early 1950s through the late 1970s was a Congressman from California's Central Valley. It is mainly because of Moss that we now have a Freedom of Information Act, a Consumer Product Safety Commission, various financial-reform bodies, and a host of other protections that would not have a prayer of getting through the Congress if they were introduced now. Moss’s longtime aide and associate, Michael Lemov, has written a new biography of him, People’s Warrior, that is startling mainly in recalling an era in which politicians actually thought (gasp!) that they could agree on significant reforms and get them passed in relatively short order. It's only a generation ago, though it seems as distant as the time of Upton Sinclair and Lincoln Steffens, and Lemov's book conveys what it was like. The book is worth reading and reflecting upon. (The Atlantic)

People’s Warrior is the best account to date of Representative Moss’s legislative battles to win the public’s right to obtain government information, consumer protections, federal safety standards for motor vehicles, and protections for securities in brokerage accounts. For FOIA advocates, Lemov’s treatment of Moss’s decades-long fight to pass the Freedom of Information Act –which was signed into law on July 4th, 1966– is especially riveting. (National Security Archive)

Mike Lemov, has done justice with this inspiring and instructive account of one of the giants in our institution’s history. (Congressional Record)

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