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Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,879 ratings  ·  308 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
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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
Mary S
I really enjoyed this book and will have my children read it, but we will be discussing one aspect of it for sure.
The author said that "Humans have always argued about what makes us human." Then goes on to say, "The case of Phineas Gage suggests that we are human because our frontal lobes are set up so we can get along with other humans." I beg to differ.
Our frontal lobes are not what makes us human. Would we say a brain injured dog is something other than a dog? A brain injured horse is not a
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
Ok, so this is a kid's book but it sure made brain science clear to me. Before Phineas Gage accidently shot a thirteen pound tamping rod through his brain in 1848, and survived, practically nothing was known about the brain. This short book,75 pages, describes Phineas' accident and medical care along with practically the entire history of medicine. Fascinating and a lot of information packed into a quick, easy to understand read. Illustrated. How many neurons do we have in our brains? Ten billio ...more
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
Phineas Gage: A gruesome but true story about brain science is a very intersting book to say the least. Most nonfiction books lack a certain quality of entertainment but, Phineas Gage was equally enjoyable and an experience to learn. The book starts with the incident which made Phineas Gage famous in the first place. Of course, normally anything as bizarre are a case where a large metal rod has been stuck through someone's head (accidentally of course) will attract attention. The fact that he li ...more
Tyler Haney
May 14, 2015 Tyler Haney is currently reading it
These days, people die from simple car crashes, disease, and etc. But for Phineas Gage, a railroad worker, well...he got something worse and didn't die from it. ***WARNING. CAN BE DISGUSTING*** Imagine an iron rod, going straight through your cheek, going into the skull, and piercing part of your left frontal lobe, and coming back out from the top of your head, and landing several feet away. That was what happened to Phineas Gage. P.S. Don't expect anything special. This is just a biography of ...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
I was promised gruesome. And it wasn't all that gruesome, just so you know.

Also, Phineas Gage prior to his life-changing incident was kind of a hottie. Which is rare for 1848.


Anyway, the book goes into what happened to him, and all historical records of his life after the accident, along with lessons on the brain, how it works, and how Doctors of the time thought in worked, and just how right or wrong they were.

I must admit I was unexpectedly disappointed to learn how "Cells" got their name. I s
Mar 28, 2014 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: brain injury survivors, railroad workers
Recommended to Kate by: Rivera
Shelves: teen-fic, ischool
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
Jordan Davidson
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science
John Fleischman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004

Summary: This is the true story of Phineas Gage, a rail foreman in the 1800s who was horrifically injured when a premature explosion sent a tamping iron shooting through his head. Despite all odds, Gage lived through the experience, but his personality was forever altered. Once known as kind, dependable, and wise, the post-accident Gage was temperamental and flighty, hopping from one job to a
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
The most unlucky/lucky moment in the life of Phineas Gage is only a minute or two away.

In 1848, Phineas Gage had a tamping iron blown into his head when a gunpowder charge went off earlier than it was supposed to. Miraculously, he survived 11 years with a hole in his head in a time when infections were rampant and medical science was in its infancy. His case has fascinated hundreds of doctors, neuroscientists, and psychologists for the 160 years since it happened.

I picked this book up because
I really enjoyed this book. For the longest time I absolutely refused to read non-fiction. My language arts teacher challenged me to start reading non-fiction. So me being the perfectionist I am had to do it, and ever since I have really loved it. This is a book that was on my summer reading list given to me by my LA teacher. I really enjoyed learning about the brain and how your bodies and minds work. Fair warning it isn't all that gruesome for me personally because I have grown up on a beef ca ...more
#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.
Kate Brown
I'm not giving this book two stars because I disliked the topic. I actually found the story of Phineas Gage quite interesting. What I didn't like were the in depth analyses on the parts of the brain and all the back story on different scientists. The focus on Phineas's injury was so minor to all the jargon being used to describe the makeup of the human brain. I found myself quite bored. I also did not like the use of "you" by the author. He directly speaks to the reader and it just breaks every ...more
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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...

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