This is a book about men from Palestine who lived in the first half of the twentieth century, who were at the forefront of the political, scholarly, literary, educational, social, and economic elites. Some of them are only remembered by their close relatives and friends, but are still considered significant enough by this historian to draw his interest, because among the faceless masses unsung heroes can also be found.
The first section, titled “Torchbearers of the intellectual, national renaissance in Arab Palestine,” was written by the author as a series of weekly articles in the newspaper al-Anwar between 1961-62. It contains biographies of over two hundred Palestinians known to him. He wrote lengthy entries about some and brief ones about others. He described these biographical entries, called tarajim (“translations”) in classical Arabic, as brilliant flashesor fragments. Essentially, they are the product of his spirit, his heart, his intellect, and his memories. It was Palestine that was the object of this history, whose cultural stalwarts, educational institutions, the achievements of its scholars, and the heroic actions of its martyrs the author aimed to document through these “flashes.” The author writes that he did not follow a specific methodology for selecting the individuals emanating this brilliance, but that "at the heart of it all lies Palestine."
The second section, titled "As I knew them: their lives, their contribution, their legacy," includes biographies of twenty-one of the most notable Palestinians, with a full-length chapter for each. The source material for these chapters relies upon the author’s private papers and his memoirs, titled Sixty Years with the Arab Caravan, as well as his articles in Arabic periodicals from the time of the Nakba until the early 1980s. These biographies were not written with any premeditation, but rather out of a sense of loyalty by the author towards his friends, so that when one of them departed this life, he would commemorate him with an article or a whole series of articles. The notable men of this section include revolutionary leaders, martyrs, and political leaders, whether ruling or in opposition, party heads, as well as historians, clerics, educators, journalists, and businessmen.
The content of this book is more comprehensive and far-reaching than its title suggests. It is not only about eminent personalities from Palestine whom the author met and knew, but it is also about Palestine itself and its rich history, the deep-rootedness of its people and the justice of their cause.