A Pocket Mirror for Heroes is a mirror because it reflects "the person you are or the one you ought to be." It is a pocket mirror because its author took the time to be brief. And it is a mirror for heroes because it provides a vivid image of ethical and moral perfection to which all can aspire. The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian was all but forgotten for three hundred years, until its republication in 1992 turned this lost classic into a New York Times bestseller. Now Gracian, the Spanish Jesuit considered Machiavelli's better in strategy and insight, sets a new standard on the art of living and the practice of achieving. That new standard is the art of heroism--how to be "the consummate person, ripe and perfect: accurate in judgment, mature in taste, attentive in listening, wise in sayings, shrewd in deeds, the center of all perfection."
Gracian teaches the reader to be "a giant"--"the greatest person possible, a miracle of perfection, a king." Wit, wisdom, courage, elegance, grace, humility, spontaneity--these are the qualities needed to reach heroism in any occupation. But it is not enough to be wise or graceful: one must learn as well how to manage that talent, how to distinguish a quality fiom its shadow. A Pocket Mirror for Heroes provides "a politics for governing oneself, a compass for sailing toward excellence, an art for reaching distinction with just a few rules of discretion," and it will be wise and witty company for anyone who recognizes--and relishes--the challenges of daily life.
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