- Age Range: 10 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 5 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 1030L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 86 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Eighth Edition edition (March 25, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780618052523
- ISBN-13: 978-0618052523
- ASIN: 0618052526
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 88 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science Hardcover – March 25, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Science writer John Fleischman uses a clipped, engaging expository style to tell the incredible story of the railroad worker who, in 1848, survived the piercing blast of a 13-pound iron rod as it entered below his cheekbone and exited the front of his skull in Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story about Brain Science. Photographs, glossary, a resource listing and index lend this textbook case the same sense of immediacy as do the words.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-The fascinating story of the construction foreman who survived for 10 years after a 13-pound iron rod shot through his brain. Fleischman relates Gage's "horrible accident" and the subsequent events in the present tense, giving immediacy to the text. He avoids sensationalizing by letting the events themselves carry the impact. The straightforward description of Gage calmly chatting on a porch 30 minutes after the accident, for example, comes across as horrifying and amazing. The author presents scientific background in a conversational style and jumps enthusiastically into such related topics as phrenology, 19th-century medical practices, and the history of microbiology. He shows how Gage's misfortune actually played an intriguing and important role in the development of our knowledge of the brain. The present-tense narrative may cause occasional confusion, since it spans several time periods and dates are not always immediately apparent from the text. Illustrations include historical photographs; one showing the iron bar posed dramatically next to Gage's skull is particularly impressive. Other photos and diagrams help explain the workings of the brain. The work of Gage expert Malcolm Macmillan, cited in the list of resources, seems the likely main source for the quotes and details of Gage's life, but this is not clearly spelled out in the text or appendixes. Like Penny Colman's Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts (Holt, 1997) and James M. Deem's Bodies from the Bog (Houghton, 1998), Phineas Gage brings a scientific viewpoint to a topic that will be delightfully gruesome to many readers.
Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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You'll find mention of Gage in a far more mature piece of writing - "Soul Made Flesh" by Carl Zimmer - which narrates the life-work of the 17th C Englishman, Thomas Willis, who first convinced at least some people that the brain was not merely a blob but in fact the seat of consciousness. I recommend that book heartily/brainily to all readers who enjoy the history of science. I'd also urge people with serious scientific interests to learn about the "Brainbow" project underway at the Harvard Center for Brain Science, directed by my smartest friend, Dr. Joshua Sanes.
A javelin-type spear goes through his head and comes barreling out through his jaw. And Phineas remains almost intact. Almost as if nothing has happened. He continues to talk to those around him and continues to explain what happened to him when he gets to the doctor. He does this all with a clearly visible hole in his head. It's the late 1800's, and somehow Phineas survives intense infection, the limited medical understanding of the era, and lives on for many more years. It's a true tale that is still able to compete with the internet.
My only complaint about the book is it veers too often away from the character and spends a bit too much time on brain research. It's all good information, but it has caused some reluctant readers to abandon the book. That may be more about me wanting the book to cater to a more particular audience than a criticism of the book itself. I still strongly recommend that teachers find a place for it in their bookshelves.
Author of Our Kids: Building Relationships in the Classroom
In Phineas Gage John Fleischman chronicles the adult life of a man who has the extreme misfortune to experience an iron rod fly through his head and out the top of his skull ... and live to tell the tale. Literally, in fact, as he sat chatting with his landlord about the accident while he waited the half hour for the nearest doctor to arrive. Despite the extreme improbability given the state of medical treatment in 1848, Phineas recovers from the incident and goes on to live an additional eleven years. However, the true subject of Fleischman's narrative is not really Phineas Gage as an individual, but rather how he helped inspire the medical community. In life, aspiring surgeons look at Gage's recovery as proof of a number of neurological theories. After his death his doctor finally reveals that his patient's recovery was not as "complete" as first suggested, and Phineas' medical history and remains go on to inspire and enlighten medical minds for decades to come.
Phineas Gage is remarkable all on his own, and Fleischman makes his story available to young readers.