Using animals as weapons

By Michal Ann McArthur, Bend
Author of Choking on a Camel

Her blog

Book Review: Peter Fisher’s Odyssey by Michael Greenwood

Peter Fisher’s Odyssey is a compelling story of a good man who loses his way. After leading a bloody mission as a Navy Seal during the Vietnam War, Peter Fisher resigns from the military with the intention of doing something more constructive and positive with his life. His noble intentions, however, are sidetracked when he accepts an offer from the CIA to take part in the ultrasecret project of training dolphins to become weapons of war. Without realizing it, he’s sucked into the power and money game, falls prey to the intoxication of self-importance, and can’t resist the exciting prospect of “controlling, manipulating, and using animal behavior in a way that’s never been done.” The story follows him as he devotes years to the training of dolphins for marine mammal warfare and then deploys them in an international conflict involving China and Russia. The action throughout the story is intense and exciting.

However, the novel is far more than a compelling read. Greenwood presents the urgent need to focus on improving life for all of mankind if we are to survive as a race. He makes an impassioned plea for us to settle our national scientific priorities: will we focus on improving life or destroying it? The book is also a political commentary, asking pointed questions about the wisdom of our allowing the CIA to operate as a country within a country, apart from meaningful oversight and the knowledge of the American people. The book is full of barbs, such as “Winning in Washington has nothing to do with being right, truthful, or moral.” It also delves into learning theory and the meaning of intelligence, addressing the question, “What is it that controls and initiates intelligent and abstract behavior?” Certainly, that’s a fascinating question worth considering, and Greenwood gives the reader much to ponder.

Down to the very last detail, Greenwood writes with authority. He worked for years for the US government to train dolphins for military use. The novel contains strong language, appropriate in the mouths of soldiers and sailors, but perhaps offensive to some readers. The novel is also in need of copyediting.

For readers interested in a book that addresses some of the most important issues facing the human race today, I wholeheartedly recommend Peter Fisher’s Odyssey. It’s a must-read.

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