Thursday, June 10, 2021

Sam Apple's "Ravenous"

Sam Apple has written for The New York Times Magazine, Wired, The Atlantic, and He is on the faculty of the MA in Science Writing and MA in Writing programs at Johns Hopkins, and lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

Apple applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Ravenous: Otto Warburg, the Nazis, and the Search for the Cancer-Diet Connection, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book reveals that my central character, Otto Warburg, has won the Nobel Prize for his research on how cells breathe. Warburg was excited about what he was going to do with the money, and page 99 also mentions how frustrated Warburg was when Einstein told him that a scientist shouldn't be concerned about having nice things.

I would say the test works in terms of giving a fairly clear picture of Otto Warburg. Ravenous details Warburg's extraordinary arrogance. On page 99, we learn that Warburg felt that some of the luster was lost from his Nobel Prize when he arrived in Stockholm and found the selection committee to be fairly unimpressive. So, if my book were strictly a biography, it would work quite well. But, as Warburg's story is only one component of the book, I would say the test did not work.

The part of Ravenous not captured on page 99 is the part about cancer. The book explores the question of how cancer became such a common disease in modern Western societies. I focused on Warburg because he made a critical discovery about how cancer cells eat that helps explain how our diets--sugar, in particular--drive cancer.
Follow Sam Apple on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue