Ihsan Turjman, a young man with a high-school education, is conscripted into the Ottoman army as a clerk. Influenced by his esteemed teacher, Khalil Sakakini, he decides to keep a diary in which he writes about his loves and hates, the military regime’s conduct, the rumors spread in the city, and the changes in the land. A hundred years later, the diary is discovered on the shelves of the National Library in the AP collection (materials designated as abandoned property), to which were relegated books expropriated from the home libraries of Palestinians after the 1948 war.
Through this unusual diary, the readers are exposed to a dramatic and formative period in Palestine’s history: the end of the Ottoman Empire, the events of World War One and its ramifications, and the beginning of the new social and political era.
The diary has appeared in Arabic, English, and Turkish, and it is translated here into Hebrew from the Arabic original. The epilogue is by Salim Tamari.
Salim Tamari (b. Jaffa, 1945), is professor emeritus of sociology at Birzeit University (BZU). Among the topics of his research are the urban culture of the Middle East, the political sociology of the Middle East, and the social history of the Middle East in general and of the Palestinians in particular.