Muna Abu Eid has written a meticulously researched account of poet Mahmoud Darwish as a leading intellectual in the Palestinian nationalist movement and the relation between his art and his political work. Abu Eid notes that there are many studies about Darwish as a literary figure and his poetry has been widely published in Arabic and in translation. Today, nearly ten years after his death in 2008 following heart surgery in Houston, Texas, he is still the most well-known and revered of Palestinian poets. Yet, as she points out, there is no detailed account of Darwish's intellectual and political life.

Abu Eid eschews the traditional biographical format and instead organizes the book into themes, all with the central focus on Darwish as an intellectual committed to a national cause. The first chapter explores this focus—the role of the intellectual in the development and maintenance of national identity and support for...

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