The Art of Worldly Wisdom: A Pocket Oracle (1647), a wondrous text by Spanish priest Baltasar Gracián (1601 to 1658, left), graced the homes of several forefathers of American anesthesiology. Dr. Arthur “Art” Guedel (1883 to 1956, right), a Los Angeles–based devotee of The Art, was so taken by the little book that he shared it freely with friends in anesthesiology like Drs. Ralph Waters, Emery Rovenstine, Paul Wood, Henry Ruth, and Ralph Tovell. Gracián, a theologian who had examined the lives of aristocrats to glean secrets of success, had deftly crafted The Art—a collection of 300 witty aphorisms—in minimalistic prose. Art Guedel, a man of action and candor, marveled at The Art, a model of discernment and discretion. Although their styles differed, Art and The Art both prized virtue and friendship, which enhanced the book’s appeal. Guedel popularized Gracián’s Art as a guide for pioneering anesthesiologists, many of whom contended with external and internal rivalries to establish anesthesiology as an independent American specialty. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

The Art of Worldly Wisdom: A Pocket Oracle (1647), a wondrous text by Spanish priest Baltasar Gracián (1601 to 1658, left), graced the homes of several forefathers of American anesthesiology. Dr. Arthur “Art” Guedel (1883 to 1956, right), a Los Angeles–based devotee of The Art, was so taken by the little book that he shared it freely with friends in anesthesiology like Drs. Ralph Waters, Emery Rovenstine, Paul Wood, Henry Ruth, and Ralph Tovell. Gracián, a theologian who had examined the lives of aristocrats to glean secrets of success, had deftly crafted The Art—a collection of 300 witty aphorisms—in minimalistic prose. Art Guedel, a man of action and candor, marveled at The Art, a model of discernment and discretion. Although their styles differed, Art and The Art both prized virtue and friendship, which enhanced the book’s appeal. Guedel popularized Gracián’s Art as a guide for pioneering anesthesiologists, many of whom contended with external and internal rivalries to establish anesthesiology as an independent American specialty. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

Jane S. Moon, M.D., University of California, Los Angeles, California, and George S. Bause, M.D., M.P.H., Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.