Ravenous and the Writing Process with Sam Apple

When we think of World War II and the Nazi Regime, we most likely don’t think of the connection between sugar consumption and cancer. Sam Apple spent six years researching and writing about the work of Otto Warburg, a Jewish scientist who studied the cancer-diet connection during the rule of Adolph Hitler. 


Sam Apple is on the faculty of the MA in Science Writing and MA in Writing programs at Johns Hopkins. He is the author of Ravenous, Schlepping Through the Alps, and American Parent. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Wired, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times Magazine, ESPN The Magazine, The MIT Technology Review, and McSweeney's, among many other publications. (www.samapple.com)


What you’ll learn in this episode:


  • Sam’s reasoning for wanting to research Otto Warburg’s work (2:15)
  • His previous work and how it differs from Ravenous (4:05)
  • How Sam went about researching Otto Warburg’s scientific and personal life and the difficulties surrounding that (6:06)
  • Otto Warburg’s discovery that cancer cells take glucose and ferment it as a way to generate energy and how insulin resistance plays a role in cancer growth (8:08)
  • The reason the Nazis protected Warburg despite the fact that he was Jewish and a homosexual (11:16)
  • Warburg’s arrogance and extreme dedication to his work and how it helped and hindered him professionally and personally (16:57)
  • The backstory of Warburg’s personal life and how he came to live with his life partner shortly after World War I (21:17)
  • How Warburg pushed the envelope with the Nazis by not giving the salute or flying the Nazi flag (23:20)
  • Sam’s opinion of Warburg and how it changed throughout the course of his research (24:54)
  • The constant pendulum swings and changes in the scientific world and the need to focus on the big picture (28:54)
  • The controversy surrounding obesity and whether the contributing factor is hormone imbalances or insulin resistance (30:11)
  • The sustainability of the ketogenic diet (32:03)
  • The overall positive response Sam’s book has gotten from the general population (33:05)
  • Sam’s writing process and how his workflow looks from day to day (36:53)
  • Projects in the pipeline for Sam (42:48)


Where to purchase Ravenous and learn more about Sam:




Written By

Robert Sikes

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