The short anthology of some of Mark Twain's(1835-1910)essays written in protest of hypocrisy, mean spirtedness, and unbridled power are a reminder that while Mark Twain had a splendid sense of humor, he also had a profound sense of compassion. These essays show a serious side of Mark Twain and his keen awareness of powerful men ruining the unfortunate and the "underdog."
Some of these essays were scathing denounciations of U.S. imperialism which started in the 1890s. Twain's bitter attack on U.S. forces destroying men, innocent women, and children during attempts to suppress a Philopino rebellion against U.S. annexation of the the Philipines after promises of political independence in 1898 are a sarcastic attack on what media liars called a battle which was actually a wanton massacre. Twain's caustic attack on this battle is a lesson on holding media accounts suspect.
One reviewer commented on Mark Twain's "War Prayer" which is thoughtful essay on the actual costs of war and what war does the morality of the "victors." This essay alone is worth the price of the book.
Similiar to the above mentioned essay is Twain's excerpt from his novel titled THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER. This short excerpt informs readers of how war is used to take advantage of the uninformed who are foolish enough to beleive that their rulers actually care for them when in fact political leaders despise those ruled and and hold them in contempt. This short piece is a classic because it describes war, the hypocrisy associated with war, and too the often the dismal results of war for both the vanquished and the victors.
Some self appointed do-gooders have tried to censor this book. The fact is that A PEN WARMED UP IN HELL is so poignent and clear that any reasonable individual would pause and reflect on these essays. Twain did not pander to superficial respectability, and this has angered those too lazy to think or those who are too apprehensively conventional to appreciate the blunt truth.
The one essay titled "To the Person Sitting in Darkness" is a depressing piece of writing indicating that of the "underdog" is so isolated that his or her status is ignored. This essay should inspire some compassionate person to take notice of those who are shamelessly ignored and at least publisize their plight especially if their plight is the result of legal and politcal injustice.
The title of this anthology caught this reviewer's attention, and the essays reflect both the title of the book and Mark Twain's indignation. Readers who appreciate A PEN WARMED UP IN HELL should read Mark Twain's THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER for a more comprehensive view of Mark Twain "in protest."