Moss, Norman 1928-
MOSS, Norman 1928-
PERSONAL: Born September 30, 1928, in London, England; son of Benjamin and Lydia Moss; married Hilary Sesta (an actress); children: Paul, Antony. Education: Attended Hamilton College (Clinton, NY), 1946-47.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Houghton Mifflin Co. Trade Division, Adult Editorial, 8th Floor, 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116-3764.
CAREER: Reuter's News Agency, reporter and copy editor, 1952-56; Associated Press, London Bureau, London, England, reporter and copy editor, 1956-59; Radio Press International, foreign correspondent, 1962-65; Sunday Times, London, reporter, 1965-66; Metromedia Radio News, chief European correspondent, 1968-72; writer and broadcaster in London, beginning 1972.
Men Who Play God: The Story of the Hydrogen Bomb and How the World Came to Live with It, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1968, revised edition, Penguin (Harmondsworth, England), 1972.
What's the Difference?: A British-American Dictionary, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1973, published as What's the Difference?: An American-British, British-American Dictionary, Hutchinson (London, England), 1973, new and updated edition published as British/American Language Dictionary: For More Effective Communication between Americans and Britons, Passport Books (Lincolnwood, IL), 1991.
The Pleasures of Deception, Reader's Digest Press (New York, NY), 1977.
The Politics of Uranium, Universe Books (New York, NY), 1982.
The Travel Guide to British/American English, National Textbook Company (Chicago, IL), 1986.
Klaus Fuchs: The Man Who Stole the Atom Bomb, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1987.
(Editor) The Hutchinson Paperback Guide to the World, Helicon (Baltimore, MD), 1990.
Managing the Planet: The Politics of the New Millennium, Earthscan (London, England), 2000.
Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
Contributor to British and American magazines.
SIDELIGHTS: Norman Moss is a British journalist and freelance writer who has published a number of books on historical subjects, many of which concern military and political issues. His first book, Men Who Play God: The Story of the Hydrogen Bomb and How the World Came to Live with It, concerns the collaboration between scientists and politicians in the development of the hydrogen bomb. Originally published in 1968, Moss revised the book four years later to include extra material on the moral issues concerning nuclear weaponry. Military Affairs contributor S. L. Harrison felt that audiences with an interest in the military would appreciate the author's analysis of how the "evolution of new weaponry often becomes a tenuous process." The Politics of Uranium, published in 1972, is similar in some ways to Men Who Play God in that Moss relates the partnership between government and another potentially dangerous prospect: nuclear energy. The author touches on such points as safety issues and the international views about this energy source. Although John Abbotts, writing in Business & Society Review, felt that Moss asks more questions than he answers, the critic attested that Moss is interesting when he "describes the formation of the uranium producers' cartel from corporations and governments representing industrialized nations. Later, he recounts the Pakistani Government's efforts to construct a uranium enrichment plant by purchasing individual components through a chain of dummy corporations."
The dangers of nuclear technology also figure in Moss' much-reviewed book Klaus Fuchs: The Man Who Stole the Atom Bomb, which is a look at the British physicist who confessed in 1950 to giving information to the Soviets about the Manhattan Project. The Klaus case was an infamous chapter in the early history of the Cold War, helping to stir up what became the "Red Scare" of the 1950s in America and causing serious diplomatic problems between the United States and Great Britain, since the Americans had difficulty trusting British security after it was revealed Fuchs had been a spy for almost a decade without anyone noticing. Reviewers of Klaus Fuchs often compared it to Robert Chadwell Williams' Klaus Fuchs, Atom Spy, which was published at the same time. Williams' work, however, takes a broader look at Fuchs' spying within the context of surrounding historical events, while Moss is more interested in analyzing Fuchs the man. The result is a more biographical look that helps explain the psychological aspects of this quiet scientist who had deep-seeded beliefs in communism. Science writer Robert Bothwell felt that Moss does not do as well on the context of the situation as Williams, but that, overall, Moss is the "better writer . . . and he has the advantage of greater familiarity with British life and nomenclature." M. J. Heale, writing in Reviews in American History, similarly believed that Moss' book is the better of the two: Moss "has perhaps spent less time in archives and libraries than Williams, but seems to make more extensive use of interviews with Fuchs's associates. In his pages Fuchs come[s] alive." Attesting that these books, taken together, complement each other well, Los Angeles Times Book Review critic Peter Goodchild nevertheless concluded that his preference was for Moss' more biographical approach because of its "more rounded portrayal of the man himself backed up as it is with an adequate perspective on both the politics and the espionage."
With Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940, Moss completed an ambitious project that delves into little-documented events in Britain that had major ramifications in the war against Adolf Hitler. The nineteen weeks of the title refers to a period in 1940 when the British government was considering a number of possible courses of action; these included everything from political deals with Ireland and France to secure stronger military resistance against Germany to accepting a speculative offer from Hitler himself to declare an armistice. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, President Roosevelt was making important decisions about America's intervention, decisions that would eventually bring the United States to the fore of World War II in events that would precipitate the end to the British Empire but bring an end to the Nazi threat. "Even those familiar with the historical chronology will enjoy Moss' engaging narrative," declared Brendan Driscoll in Booklist. Library Journal contributor Robert Moore, however, found flaws in the book that, the critic felt, were the result of Moss' background as a journalist instead of as a historian: "histrionics and heavily freighted anecdotes [detract from] otherwise legitimate research," Moore asserted. While a Kirkus Reviews critic similarly pointed out that professional historians will be able to discern Moss' shortcomings, "general readers will find this a lucid introduction to the days before the tide was turned."
In addition to his books of historical interest, Moss has written on topics such as the environment and a language guide to the differences between British and American English.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Speech, fall-winter, 1973, Henry R. Stern, "British and American," p. 276.
Booklist, May 1, 2003, Brendan Driscoll, review of Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940, p. 1576.
Business & Society Review, fall, 1982, John Abbotts, "Atomic Power, Atomic Bombs," pp. 78-81.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2003, review of Nineteen Weeks, p. 446.
Library Journal, July 1, 1977, A. J. Anderson, review of The Pleasures of Deception, p. 1497; April 15, 2003, Robert Moore, review of Nineteen Weeks, p. 103.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 29, 1987, Peter Goodchild, "The Spy Who Sold Russia the Bomb," p. 8.
Military Affairs, October, 1973, S. L. Harrison, "Military Professionalization and Political Power; Men Who Play God: The Story of the Hydrogen Bomb; The University and Military Research: Moral Politics at M.I.T.," p.113.
Reviews in American History, December, 1988, M. J. Heale, "Secrets of a Special Relationship," pp. 630-635.
Saturday Review, July 5, 1969.
Science, November 6, 1987, Robert Bothwell, "The Fuchs Case," p. 831.*