He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil, and reported the following:
I pass the test!Read an excerpt from Crude World, and learn more about the book and author at Peter Maass' website and blog.
I try in my book to combine narrative writing about oil—vivid descriptions of people, places and journeys—with useful ideas that show how oil shapes us. I particularly focus on countries that possess an abundance of oil yet have become poorer and more violent for it. The places and situations I ventured into included the troubled Niger Delta of Nigeria, the anarchy of Baghdad after American troops arrived in 2003, and Equatorial Guinea, which is a small country with a lot of oil and from which I was expelled on charges of being a spy (which I’m not, by the way). I weave into these narratives a variety of ideas about oil—theories of social and economic development, connections between resources and warfare, as well as solutions for the problems.
On page 99, I describe a journey I made into Ecuador’s Amazon region, where indigenous Indians are trying to prevent drilling on their pristine land. “The Cessna circled over a clearing of thatched huts and dropped to a bumpy landing on a dirt airstrip,” I write. “I had arrived in Sarayaku, and after unloading my backpack and standing clear as the plane turned around and hopped back into the sky, I was wrapped in the thick heat and vibrant noise of the Amazon.” The journey continues (colorfully, I think) yet I also explain on page 99 how the situation in Sarayaku illustrates the unceasing incentives to drill despite local resistance. “Oil firms are not like door-to-door salesman who, turned away from one house, go to other houses, other streets, other towns,” I explain. “There are a finite number of reservoirs in the world, so oil companies have a limited number of doors to knock on.” I think the page offers narrative as well perspective—and I hope the book as a whole does that, too!