Book ReviewsSolomon's Freedom
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Author: Dennis Meredith
Reviewed by: The Nonhuman Rights Project

Solomon freedom chimp
Solomon's Freedom by Dennis Meredith is available through Amazon and free as an e-book.


Dr. Abigail Philips has been working with chimpanzee Solomon since he was an infant, helping him communicate using a touch-screen computer. But itís time for Solomon to retire, and, in any case, Dr. Philipsís lab is out of funds.

So it seems like a godsend when media tycoon Walter Drake offers to donate $10 million on the one condition that he can take over the ownership of Solomon and retire him to his own home, promising the very best of living conditions.

Too late we learn that Drake isnít interested in Solomon; only in his heart. His real plan is to replace his own failing heart with Solomonís.

Drakeís estranged mother steps in to try to stop her son killing Solomon. She hires a top-tier trial attorney to take on the most difficult case of his career: obtaining legal protection for the chimpanzee.

The outcome wonít affect only Solomon. It will set a precedent. If Solomon loses, this may open the door for thousands of other chimpanzees losing their hearts to heartless humans.

Thatís the basic plot of Solomonís Freedom, a novel by Dennis Meredith, which explores a fictional case for legal personhood for a chimpanzee.

Meredith wrote to us about his inspiration for the novel and his interest in legal personhood for nonhuman animals, saying:

The idea first arose in 2005, when I began exploring the new insights that chimpanzee research was yielding into their intelligence. The project became more personal when I had the privilege of spending some weeks with psychologist Sally Boysen at Ohio State, watching her amazing, personable chimpanzees master numerical skills.

But the case for legal personhood for chimpanzees really crystallized for me when I began reading the seminal writings of [NhRP President] Steven Wise. I included his books and papers in the list of sources that informed the novel. In fact, his work influenced me so profoundly that I decided to quote him by name in the novel.

There have been so many instances where fiction has advanced a cause by using vivid storytelling. I hope Solomonís Freedom does just that for the cause of obtaining justice for our closest living primate relatives, as well as the many other species with complex cognitive abilities.

And many thanks to the author for his interest in Steveís work and for using his storytelling abilities to explore the importance of nonhuman rights.

About the Author:

Dennis Meredith's career as a science communicator has included service at some of the country's leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the Universities of Rhode Island and Wisconsin. He has worked with science journalists at all the nation's major newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV networks and has written well over a thousand news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering over his career.

He has served on the executive board of the National Association of Science Writers and is a contributor to its magazine ScienceWriters. He wrote the handbook Working with Public Information Officers, the NASW handbook on media relations, Communicating Science News, the NASW Marketing & Publishing Resource guide, and the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing's online Guide to Careers in Science Writing.

He has also served as a judge and a manager for the NASW Science-in-Society Awards and the AAAS Science Writing Awards. He won the latter award himself ó for newspapers under 100,000 circulation ó in 1974.

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