His memoirs of the early period in the United States include genealogical material on both the Epperson (pp. 11, 12) and Barnett (pp. 8-10) families; accounts of his father's circuit riding (p. 14); boyhood experiences in Leesburg, Jasper, and Tampa, Florida (pp. 23-36); curriculum, expenses, impressions, and experiences at Emory College, Vanderbilt University, and the University of North Carolina (pp. 38-64); and accounts of the YMCA of this period, its missionary emphasis, conventions and training (pp. 52-69)
In China, Barnett worked as the initial general secretary of the YMCA in Hangchow from 1911 to 1920 and then as the national executive of China student YMCA work from 1920 to 1936. Of this period he records physical descriptions of Shanghai (p. 75) and Hangchow (pp. 80-82, 159-160); the nature of the grass roots YMCA work in Hangchow (pp. 103-120); remaining memories of the Boxer Rebellion among Europeans and Americans (p. 88); anticipation of the collapse of the Ch'ing Dynasty and establishment of the Republic of 1912 (pp. 96-99); and some analysis of the YMCA's strong Chinese leadership (pp. 89-92, 155, 202, 214, 216-218), its strident criticism from fundamentalists (pp. 146-149, 175), its eclipse during the economic depression of the 1930s (pp. 286-292) and its large number of former student members in high government positions (pp. 129-132, 134, 135).
The author further describes the cultural life of China, including the sense of destiny and greatness the Chinese people possessed (p. 141), their interest in national rather than personal salvation (p. 292), their literary renaissance (p. 141), their appreciation of good writing (pp. 135, 174) and the growing anti-American sentiment in the 1920s (p. 203).
Also of special note, Barnett discusses his own analysis of Christianity and indigenous Chinese religions (pp. 83-86, 112-113, 143-144, 212), the response of Germans in China to the news of the beginning of World War I (p. 138), Chinese financial contributions to the American Red Cross during the war years (p. 140), disillusionment with the West in China caused by the war (p. 141), accounts of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (p. 275), the siege of Shanghai by Japanese forces in January 1932 (p. 281), the response of Japanese and Chinese Christians to the invasion of Manchuria (p. 282-283) and the author's estimation while visiting France in 1923 of French antagonism to Germany (p. 203).
Of further interest are the memoir passages concerning Marxism, including the heroism of the Communist martyrs (p. 209); criticism of the Nanking incident (p. 208); firsthand impressions of the Soviet Union (p. 234); Marxist criticism of Christianity (p. 236); Christians who supported the Communist movement (pp. 183, 237-240); and "How Chinese Communism Look to Me During its Salad Years" (pp. 222-240).
In addition, the memoirs contain brief remarks respecting Barnett's encounters with or impressions of various significant personalities: e.g., Frank Porter Graham (pp. 60-61), Rienhold Niebuhr (p. 190), John Dewey (pp. 142, 199) and Chiang Kai-shek (pp. 230, 270).