Monday, August 24, 2009

Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman

Reviewed by Miss Dewey at Orenda

Four paw prints. Imagine minding your own business just trying to do an honest day's work and all of a sudden a very long metal rod goes through your jaw and explodes out of your head. And your brain...the rod goes through that, too. In the 21st century you might have a chance to live another day, but odds are you would die. But what if the year was 1848? YOU WOULD DIE! Unless, of course, you are Phineas Gage. Phineas was a hard working man who helped build the railroad in Vermont, but one day he had terrible accident. Everyone thought Phineas was indeed dead, but instead he told everyone, including the town doctor, what had happened to him. Since the doctor knew exactly what happened (thanks to Phineas) he was able to put Phineas' skull back together...minus a few missing pieces. Phineas went on to live another 10 years, with a hole in his head, but he was never quite the same. So, was this a good book? Well, I liked reading about the history of the 19th century and about Phineas' life. Unfortunately, I had a very hard time understanding some of the science explanations. I have always had a hard time understanding science terms, but I think students will still enjoy the book, especially since many of the explanations and pictures are graphic. (Yes, graphic does mean gory.)

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