This is a useful and interesting book that people who are relatively new to the Palestine/Israel issue will find illuminating and more experienced readers will still get plenty from it.
The approach is interesting. Pappe takes Palestine's eminent family, the Husaynis, and composes a political biography of the family to illustrate the history of Palestine. The strength here is that readers are introduced to Palestine before Zionism - a Palestine that Zionism seeks to deny even existed.
That approach also leads to problems. The history before 1900 is somewhat sketchy and names get confused - this isn't just the reader, the author got himself confused! This first part is slow. The pace picks up at the end of the nineteenth century through to 1948. The focus on the family means that the focus is on a very narrow elite in Palestinian society and not enough light is shed on the lives and struggles of ordinary Palestinian workers and peasants. Although Pappe is certainly correct when he locates the Husayni's fall to aristocratic haughtiness and their own failure to build opposition among the lower classes of Palestinian society.
This book is a must for anyone interested in going deeper into the roots of the Israel-Palestine issue, as seen through the prism of a large, powerful, Palestinian family and its various members over a period of two and a half centuries from Ottoman days up to 1948 and the Nakba/creation of Israel. Through the family, which Pappe sees in a warts-and-all way, weaknesses and strengths, we are also presented with a history of Palestine and of the wider region, and with a portrait/history of Jerusalem. One of the book's strengths is Pappe's use of a dauntingly wide range of sources, and his deft, readable, handling of a highly complex narrative. The Palestinian encounters with Zionsim from the 19th century are particularly fascinating. The one thing that could have improved the book would have been more detailed and better presented Al-Husayni family trees. The narrative is so dense with names of different members of the family that I found myself forever consulting the two rather sketchy family trees, and the index, to try to be sure who is being referred to. Nor does the transliteration of names in the trees always coincide with that used by Pappe in the text. Perhaps a reprint could include more detailed and clearer family trees as foldouts, and with birth/death dates where these are available. I am just disappointed that this book has not been more widely reviewed in the mainstream media.