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Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science
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Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,549 ratings  ·  259 reviews
Phineas Gage was truly a man with a hole in his head. Phineas, a railroad construction foreman, was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a thirteen-pound iron rod was shot through his brain. Miraculously, he survived to live another eleven years and become a textbook case in brain science.

At the time, Phineas Gage seemed to completely recover from his accide
Paperback, 96 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published September 26th 1020)
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In order to provide this book with a proper evaluation, my reciprocal ages must weigh in.

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science
A review by Joe Prince, Age 31

Grisly. Stomach-churning. Disgusting. These are adjectives that aptly describe the first chapter - nay! paragraphs - of John Fleischman's brief but explosive account of the freak accident that inspired deeper study of brain science.

Compelling. Engaging. Witty. These are adjectives that aptly describe the entire book. Fl
I'd never heard of Phineas Gage until I read The New England Grimpendium. Even though he is a hella famous local boy and trailblazer-by-accident in the study of neuroscience, he wasn't trotted out in grade school classrooms to gross out the kids while teaching them important stuff at the same time. Which boggles the mind because it's a highly effective way to instruct. C'mon, teachers. GET WITH THE PROGRAM. Does America want more brain scientists? Then teach them about Phineas Gage when they're ...more
Lars Guthrie
John Fleischman opens ‘Phineas Gage’ at full tilt, September 13, 1848, ‘a minute or two away’ from an accident that can only be described as freakish. Gage was working with gunpowder, blasting through solid rock as the foreman of a railroad construction gang in Vermont.

The tool of his trade was a tamping iron, three and a half feet long, a little less than two inches round, one end pointed like a spear to set a fuse, the blunt end used to tamp down earth over the gunpowder.

Something went wrong
Lindsey Jones
History, science, and psychology collide in this short, engaging read! The story of Phineas Gage is fascinating: not only the initial accident, but also the aftermath of the accident on Phineas's life and the developments in brain science and medicine. Fleischman does a great job of interweaving Gage's story with scientific explanations and historical medical developments. This writing style will enable young readers to make sense of technical content due to relevance. The inclusion of images ar ...more
(NS) Lauren
Interest/Grade Level: 6-12

Phineas Gage was truly a man with a hole in his head. A railroad construction foreman, Phineas was blasting rock near Cavendish, Vermont, in 1848 when a thirteen-pound iron rod was shot through his brain. Miraculously, he survived another eleven years and became a textbook case in brain science. But he was forever changed by the accident, and what happened inside his brain will tell you a lot about how your brain works and what makes us who we are.

This informational bo
Name: Kim Deniker

APA Citation: Fleischman, J. (2002). Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Genre: Biography, Nonfiction

Awards won: ALA Notable Children’s Books, 2003; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age, 2004; Book Report, 11/1/2002; School Library Journal, 3/1/2002; Booklist, 3/1/2002; Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA), 6/1/2002; Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred, 5/1/2002; Wilson’s Children, 10/1/2010; Five Owls, 6/20
I am very interested in brain science and have read several adult books on the subject. I was excited to see a book that introduced this topic to young adult readers. However, I think most children would be primarily drawn in with the title and illustration on the cover and want to read about the gory details, rather than learning about the brain research that came from studying the 11 years that Phineas Gage survived after a metal rod was driven through his skull in a railroad construction acci ...more
Patrice Sartor
GENRE: Non-fiction, biography, brain anatomy, science.

SUMMARY: Phineas Gage suffered a horrendous accident in 1848 when a tamping iron exploded through his skull. Amazingly, Phineas walked away from the accident, and lived for another eleven years. He was a changed man, however. His personality became harsher and less socially adept. He became prone to swearing and shortness of temper. After the incident Phineas was able to interact well with children and horses, and he worked with horses for ma
Why would this appeal to teens? Why WOULDN'T appeal is a better question. It seems as if everyone goes through a gross phase, and this novel is absolutely disgusting and freakish. Younger students just love "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" books, and this is much like an extended version of one of those.
I think that many students will skip over the scientific explanations. High school students will already know much of it and middle schoolers may find it boring. The author offers solid basic explana
This is the true story of Phineas Gage, a railroad worker in the mid 1800's who suffered a brain injury after a 3-foot iron rod shot through his head. He not only survived, but (at least initially) appeared to be physically unaffected. That is, he could still walk, talk and perform normal daily tasks as usual. But he was not the same man. Once even-tempered, he now seemed to lack social skills, and often broke out in an unexpected temper.

Gage is one of the earliest documented cases of severe br
James Govednik
This thorough book, for ages 10 and up, offers a glimpse into the life of the famous subject as well as great science info on the brain, a bit of science history, and a bit of investigation into some of the mysteries surrounding Phineas Gage after his injury. The format is very easy to follow, and there are great supporting photographs and diagrams. The author avoided turning the story into a science textbook and instead manages to adopt an interesting story-telling style when necessary to keep ...more
This was a very short, 96 pages, but powerfully good book. If you are interested in the science of the brain, and in wonderfully well written, unique medical mystery stories...this is a great one. It is set in the mid 1800's and has some wonderful illustrations and information along with the story. I will also be checking out the website recommended by the author for more "Neuroscience for Kids." I just love this field. Along with Dr. Oliver Sachs books, much weightier reads of course, this is o ...more
When Phineas Gage was working on the railroad preparing the blasting materials for the track to be laid down, his best companion was his tamping rod, the tool that packed in the gun powder in preparation for the explosion that would open up the road, the last thing he was expecting was that his tool would cause an explosion in his brain, penetrating his skull, and changing the rest of his short life.

This book relates the history of science as interpreted through Phineas' horrific accident. The i
NCPL Teenzone
Meet Phineas Gage. Right now he is a skull on display at Harvard but in 1848 he was the foreman of a railroad construction crew. He used a tool called a “tamping iron”, which looks a lot like a spear, and it was his job to blast the rocks into small pieces that could be removed. In order to do this, a hole would have to be drilled into the rock. The hole would be “charged” by filling the bottom with gun powder. Phineas would use the pointy end of his tamping iron to press a fuse into the powder ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: brain injury survivors, railroad workers
Recommended to Kate by: Rivera
Shelves: ischool, teen-fic
Annotation: This highly-acclaimed non-fiction book for young adult readers, shelved at the APL libraries in Dewey Decimal section 362--”Social problems of and services to groups of people”--tells the story of Phineas Gage, who miraculously survived an 1848 railroad-building accident in which an iron tamping rod blasted through his face, skull and brain. Although Gage made an impressive physical recovery and survived for eleven more years before dying of accident-related complications, mentally a ...more
This 75-page book contains photos and everything John Fleischman could discover about Phineas Gage. In 1848 in Cavendish, Vermont, Gage was a foreman blasting through granite for a railroad right-of-way. In a freak accident, his tamping iron (three feet,seven inches long and 131/2 pounds, 1 3/4 quarters in diameter) was "shot" through his head from beneath the cheek to the top of his head! Miraculously he lived for eleven years! He did have a drastic personality change which made him surly, argu ...more
Very interesting but definitely not an easy read. This book tells the true story of a man who had a steel rod impaled through his head and survived. It also looks at the science behind how he could survive and the reasons for the personality changes he underwent. This is on a middle school reading list, but the science is a stretch for their comprehension.
See Phineas. See Phineas get a rod shot through his head. See Phineas survive for another 11 years, albeit as a different man. This is the story of Phineas Gage, a man who lived during the 19th century and miraculously survived a railroad building accident in which a tamping rod shot through his head like a bullet, taking part of his skull and brain with it. Perhaps even more stunning is the fact that Phineas stayed conscious during this ordeal. What follows is the story of the rest of Phineas’s ...more
Review Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science

The book Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science was interesting but I felt like the title was a little too intense for the book. Rather than deeply explaining the brain and how he managed to stay alive during his accident, it sort of skimmed along the surface and didn’t get that in depth. It more explained the parts of the brain, the parts of the brain that were injured but not really how the brain works. Wit
#bookaday This is a perfect addition to our nonfiction unit. It's gruesome enough to suck you in, contains just the right amount of information on brain science and its history to challenge our students, and is engaging in manner. If Fleischman decides to write other middle grade books, I'm in.
Jun 05, 2010 Tracy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Chris Swensen, Jeff, Corbin
Got this for Ryan and ended up reading it myself. It's a true story about a man who had a tamping iron (basically a pike) shot thru his head in a railroad building accident. He lived, and his case is now a very famous study for brain science. Pretty amazing. Ryan gave it four and a half stars.
Garret Mos
In the novel Phineas Gage written by John Fleishman is a story about Phineas, and the day he could of easily lost his life. Due to his tragic brain injury Phineas has to learn how to talk, talk, and even chew his own food. The brain injury really effected his life and the people around him. The story Phineas Gage really demonstrates how fast your life can change from really good to terrible. As a new reader i really recommend this book because its a nice story and a really good lesson what to do ...more
Amy Gonzalez
Mar 02, 2014 Amy Gonzalez rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Grades 6-up, reluctant readers of nonfiction
Recommended to Amy by: district ELA dept.
Did you hear about the guy who survived after a three foot long iron rod went through his head? And that although he lived, his personality changed and he became a foul-mouthed grouch? His story is one that has passed on for years as an example of how scientists figured out how the brain works. However, till this day more and more research on Phineas Gage's case has come out. Now, it is understood that there is not enough evidence to say that Phineas Gage actually changed that much. His accident ...more
Andrew D.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is a very, very short story about Phineas Gage, who had his thirteen pound tamping iron shot straight through his head, which greatly damaged the frontal cortex of his brain. Miraculously he survived and lived another 11 years or so before he finally succumbed to his injuries. The book was extremely short, in fact, the whole thing was 75 pages long. Also, the majority of the pages had large pictures, and the text was very large. It was good though. It told the sto ...more
Adam Voeller
The biography "Phineas Gage" wasn't my favorite. It was very boring but I usually feel this way about biographies. This book is about a regular guy who worked at a mine and a terrible accident happened. His tamping iron, a three foot 13 pound metal rod, struck his head and went underneath his cheek bone and through his brain. After the hit, he wasn't the same. He didn't do well with other people. He enjoyed spending his time with children and animals. He survived 11 years after this and could ma ...more
Interesting children's book on this ever fascinating story. I heart Phineas. Well, probably not post-head trauma Phineas.

these are some of millions of words to describe this book. it taught me about brains. it told me how i can survive with partss missing, and how my whole life would change without certain parts of my brain. some parts will kill you instantly, and others will make you socially impared, mute, deaf or blind, and maybe even turn you into a "vegeatable". it taught me what we learned from Phineas' unfortuanate, but lucky life, and what we might not have known about the
Wow! Couldn't put this down and the fact that it was under 100 pages meant that I didn't have to. The author grabs you in the first few pages with a fabulous story and tricks you into reading all about the history of brain research. Some reviewers felt that this was "above" the comprehension of young readers. I found that the author skillfully defined unfamiliar terms and described a pretty sophisticated topic in a way that would be very accessible to most middle school readers. Overall a great ...more
Nov 02, 2013 Renae rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Rachelle DeMunck
Interesting and a bit disturbing...but really a great book.
Malorie Demo
the book seemed to drag on a bit.
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John Fleischman, who is now the science writer for the American Society for Cell Biology and a magazine freelancer whose work appears in Discover, Muse, and Air & Space Smithsonian, was working in public affairs at Harvard Medical School when he wrote Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science.

In addition to writing for science publications, Fleischman was a senior editor at
More about John Fleischman...
Black and White Airmen: Their True History Free & Public: One Hundred and Fifty Years at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 1853-2003 The Ohio Lands

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