My Review: Have you ever wondered how the brain works? How it came to be that we know as much as we do about the brain before technology moved us ahead? How we went from believing the heart governed the body to the brain? Or are you simply looking for a book that could possibly capture the attention of your teenage child? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I highly recommend picking up this book.
Phineas Gage is a captivating story about a young man who had it all going for him, only to have it come crashing down after a tragic accident that by most accounts should have killed him. And it did. But not for another ten or so years. That's not to say he left unscathed for those years in between. In fact, most that knew him said he was almost an entirely different person after the accident. So what happened? Here's a Reader's Digest version: By a fluke accident, a metal rod, called a tamping iron, fell from his hands, landed on explosives set below him to blast a track for the railroad track he was working to build, and flew up and through his skull. How he survived? I'm going to make you read the book to find out.
This is young Phineas Gage after the accident holding the tamping iron. (Image from mindhacks.com)
Initially I was going to add more photos, but decided against it in case it offended an unsuspecting reader sensitive to images of this sort. Feel free to Google his name if you're curious; you'll find lots of interesting pictures about what happened.
Great nonfiction is exploding onto the marketplace of libraries and classrooms (corny pun intended). This is another example of one of those books. If you have difficult to engage readers, ones who really don't get into a fictional tale, try handing him or her this. My middle school students couldn't help but want to know more about how this tragic story ended and why he didn't die in the first place. And honestly, so did I!
For the sensitive reader: If you have a hard time with images depicting what could have happened, even though they are drawn, I recommend you skip certain pages in the book. Otherwise, it's factual and clean.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Sum it up: A fascinating story of a brain injury that helped the world understand more about how the brain works.