The author is Siddhartha Mukherjee and the subtitle is A Biography of Cancer. This is not a typical excerpt, but it works as an excerpt for this blog:
In 1942, when Merck had shipped out its first batch of penicillin — a mere five and a half grams of the drug — that amount had represented half of the entire stock of the antibiotic in America. A decade later, penicillin was being mass-produced so effectively that its price had sunk to four cents for a dose, one-eighth the cost of a half gallon of milk.
This book deserves its rave reviews; it is one of the best non-fiction works of the year.
Related to this topic, here is an update on Christopher Hitchens.