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Dr. Mary’s Monkey – Book Review

by: Edward T. Haslam

Publisher: Trine Day, PO Box 577, Walterville, OR

Cover: Ed Bishop

Copyright: 2007

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, 10/07/2011


The last “serious” type “conspiracy book” reviewed by this journal was the incredible BEHOLD A PALE HORSE by Milton William Cooper published in 1991 by Mission Possible Commercial Printing (reviewed 11/15/1996). Mr. Cooper was shot and killed in a shoot-out with Apache County, Arizona Sheriff’s deputies on November 6, 2001. To quote from that 1996 book review:

“With the explosion in information communication it is only a matter of time before we have more good intentioned people writing tracks against the coming whatever, or exposing the real “truth”. (An excellent example is the heartfelt belief that TWA Flight 800 was brought down by a missile because mechanical failure is just too gosh darn simple in this complicated world). I imagine it to be a sort of geometric progression. From the grand alphabet soup of a propaganda tract, X number of people will pick out Y number of “facts” they regard as truth and go their merry, propaganda prone way. Soon, everything will be a Lie: anything can be the Truth. If you think about it, this is really what all these secreted Masters of the Universe are trying to achieve. It is what the revealers of grand conspiracies, like Mr. Cooper, achieve with little effort. Does this mean then that the seekers of truth are really part of the grand conspiracy? Mmmm, I wonder…”

My opinion has not changed in the intervening fifteen plus years. The only question here is whether Edward T. Halsam’s DR. MARY’S MONKEY fits into this “exposing the real ‘truth’” conspiracy stuff.

Halsam’s conspiracy starts to form once he discovers a curious fact about the unsolved July 24, 1964 death of Dr. Mary Sherman in New Orleans. Stabbed in the heart, the cause of her death, her right arm and right rib cage had been burned away. It was determined that after the stab to the heart and subsequent death, she was stabbed in the liver region and legs. All this is very strange in and of itself. It certainly looked like a staged death. Author Halsam contends that it was in fact a staged death.

The reason Dr. Sherman’s death is of such interest, aside from its mystery, is that she was a researcher connected to, in sequential order: the 1950s polio vaccine, contamination of that vaccine by a monkey virus which later was found to be the cause of soft tissue cancers (skin, prostrate, breast, lung and lump nodes) starting in the 1980s. Finally, at the time of her untimely death, Dr. Sherman was involved in research to control (cure or turn into a weapon) the virus.

Not all the circumstances surrounding Sherman’s death were released at the time she was discovered murdered. According to Halsam, the fact that her arm and rib cage were burned away by a fire much more intense than the small fire found to have occurred in her apartment was not part of the information released by early investigators. Also unreleased was a name found in the doctor’s address book. Halsam has filed a Freedom Of Information (FOIA) request with the FBI to find out whether the name was that of Lee Harvey Oswald, the reputed assassin of President Kennedy.

Obvious question: why would Halsam even think Oswald was in some way connected to Dr. Sherman and her murder.

Time Out

The prescript for constructing a conspiracy are rather simple. Pick a fact. Collect the relevant and logical prerequisites for the existence of the fact. Select another fact. Collect the relevant and logical prerequisites for the existence of the fact. To declare a conspiracy, the two facts must be linked by the consequence of one or more events and one or more motives. This formula is rather easy to apply to just about any notorious event. Because it is so easy, red flags immediately pop up to watch out for fuzzy logic, invalid assumptions, selective presentation of fact, and so forth. In short, conspiracy theories automatically trigger the suspicion that something else is going on other than seeking the truth.

Halsam’s DR. MARY’S MONKEY follows the conspiracy prescript to the letter. What this book does better than most conspiracy presentations is collecting facts. The unsolved, bizarre and unexplained murder of Dr. Sherman is pivotal to the events and motives behind Halsam’s conspiracy theory and is used to link the other facts together. Moving beyond the facts, delving into the conjectures and assumptions making up the links is where a myriad of questions mushroom. Halsam attempts to stem this mushroom by introducing the reader to Judyth Vary Baker who was purportedly a close friend of Lee Harvey Oswald during his days in New Orleans.

The gist of the conspiracy theory presented by Halsam is that New Orleans was the epicenter of a small group of people on and off the CIA payroll looking for ways to topple Fidel Castro of Cuba. At the same time, this group linked into an effort to develop a bio-weapon out of the Monkey virus which contaminated the early polio vaccine. Oswald and Judyth Vary Baker were couriers going back and forth from the Infectious Disease Laboratory of the U. S. Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans in which Dr. Sherman worked to an “underground medical laboratory located in David Ferrie’s apartment.” Ferrie maintained the rats on which the bio-weapon was tested.

What Halsam presents is both factual and, hence, plausible. If there was in fact an orchestrated effort by persons unknown to cover-up the real cause of death of Dr. Sherman, then it is also possible that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone gunman who killed President Kennedy. Halsam explores the possibility that Dr. Sherman was severely injured in a laboratory accident in which she was electrocuted by the 5 million volts of a linear particle accelerator, which explains the injuries to the right side of her body. Her death however was accomplished by someone stabbing her in the heart to avoid anyone having to explain exactly why she was injured in the first place. Ipso facto, some person or persons unknown were determined to hide her work, presumably work that involved weaponizing the Monkey virus. These same “person or persons unknown” were the masterminds behind the killing of the forty-third President of the United States.

Another Time-Out

Having just completed jury duty in a minor but “important”–to use the county prosecutors assessment–criminal trial, I was struck by the quality of testimony of two law enforcement professionals. One was a Sheriff’s Deputy, the other a county prosecutor who got caught up in the events.

The defendant was charged with escaping from the custody of the county corrections department. The question for us jurors was what constituted escape. Both law enforcement professionals described the defendant as running from a courtroom to an elevator on the fourth floor of the building. The Sheriff’s Deputy, who eventually tasered the defendant, said that the defendant was on the elevator. The county prosecutor, who had just gotten off the elevator, said she kept pressing the OPEN DOOR button on the elevator to keep the elevator doors from closing after observing what she took to be an escaped prisoner juggling the locked doors to offices in the corridor. She did not mention whether the defendant actually got on the elevator.

An event in which the facts seem to be rather clear cut. However, one person, the Sheriff’s Deputy, reported a fact which might have been of crucial importance to an assessment of the event. The defendant got on the elevator. The other person, the county prosecutor did not mention what, logically at least, must have been a fact. Neither person was being deceptive, or evasive, or fabricating. They were simply and truthfully reporting what they observed. The discrepancy in observation leaves open a tiny gap in which assessment must rely upon “common sense” or forced logic.

The Incredible, Malleable Mind

If you look at every conspiracy theory, regardless of what the conspiracy is about, you find these gaps in cause and effect. Minor in some cases, monumental in others. The upshot however is not the gaps themselves, but the obligation, some would say instinct, we have to “fill-in” the gaps even if we don’t buy into the facts themselves. This is what is most fascinating–and dangerous–about conspiracy theories regardless of their type.

Halsam links Judyth Vary Baker and Lee Harvey Oswald together through their employment while in New Orleans. From this, the author relies upon the testimony of Baker to link Oswald to the strange personage of David Ferrie and his “underground” laboratory of rats. Dr. Sherman is linked to Ferrie by the proximity of their abodes and their common interest in experimental rodents–assuming Dr. Sherman really did have such interest at the time.

Truth and assumptions. DR. MARY’S MONKEY is qualitatively light years beyond the usual standard of conspiracy books. Just ticking off the reported facts is enough to raise questions. Yet, it is still just a conspiracy book. Too many gaps, too many assumptions. Perhaps most important of all, the assertion that Dr. Mary Sherman was killed by person or persons unknown because exposure of her “work” injury might expose a secret government program to develop a bio-weapon seems a bit over the top.

You should definitely read this book. As you do, you might want to keep in mind that the gods once lived in trees and rocks. Now, all gods are in the firmament somewhere. Why did they move? Just a question to keep in mind.

One Response to Dr. Mary’s Monkey – Book Review

  1. John Hanner says:

    Dr Mary’s Monkey is a joke. None of the accused are even alive to defend themselves.

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