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Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  2,231 Ratings  ·  360 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 accid ...more
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Published (first published February 25th 2009)
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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
Feb 16, 2014 Karla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, ebook
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
❆ Crystal ❆
3 stars. What an amazing story. It's amazing he survived. It's short but a great read. I enjoyed.
Lars Guthrie
Nov 20, 2010 Lars Guthrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I've always been fascinated by the story of Phineas Gage. I've had the book 'The Only Living Man with a Hole in His Head' by Todd Colby Pliss on my list of books to read for a while now. So, this book caught my eye. It's so short it was no trouble to work it into the reading rotation.

The story of Phineas Gage's brain injury is fascinating stuff, an accidental discharge of explosives sent a three foot long iron tamping rod through the man's skull. Minutes later he walked on his own into town to g
Dorian Becerra
This book is about Phineas Gage a survivor of a large Iron rod going through his head. This is his story of how this affected brain science forever and his. I liked this book because I've been amazed of how he could survive this accident and I wanted to know more about it. I would recommend this book to people who like brain science.
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
Dec 26, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 08, 2013 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 08, 2015 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 14, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 17, 2016 Matthyas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman is a very interesting book about how a man had a tamping iron shot through his head. The book goes on to find out how Phineas Gage had survived the rod through his head. Going throughout the book all about the old beliefs of brain science and the newest beliefs of the brain. Read tht ebook to find out more about this true, fascinating story.
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
May 24, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 14, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science, written by John Fleischman, tells the story of one of the most peculiar and seemingly impossible incidents in history. The book tells the story of Phineas Gage, a railroad construction foreman living in Cavendish, Vermont. On a seemingly normal day in 1848, Gage has a thirteen-pound iron rod shot through his head and brain during work. Gage survives the incident even with the limited knowledge of the brain during the 1800s, and is able ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Hunter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science by John Fleischman is a very amazing book. Really it's the person that's amazing. His story about how he lived then learning all about how is awesome.

Phineas Gage is a scientific miracle and hero. Something like him and his story may never ever happen again to anyone else ever. This was really the right place at the right time. Or in this case the wrong place! When the iron tamping rod went right through his head he really didn't chang
Tyler Haney
May 14, 2015 Tyler Haney is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2014 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 01, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phineas Gage was a part of the track commission gang. After making a small simple mistake when using dynamite and trying to blow a hole into the caves for the tracks and trains .When he tried to blow something up it didn’t explode .so he used his tamping iron to poke he dynamite. When he poked it exploded making the tamping iron explode and it went into his face making a giant hole in his head.

After his head was all messed up some of his friends immediately tried to help him and sent him to th
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
May 10, 2016 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 28, 2014 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
the cover of this book really speaks the truth : a gruesome but true story about brain science. my class and i read this together and it was truly disgusting.

First of all, this is a true story, not one of those scifi stories i usually read.
Phineas Gage is working at a railroad track when a tamping iron SHOOTS THROUGH HIS HEAD
and he still walks around and tells people about it before heading to the hospital that part really had me shocked.
Here comes the sciency part of it
Phineas got hit in the
Mar 13, 2014 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
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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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