is it worth trying to interpret the makefile generated by cmake to get better understanding?
A better understanding of what? There are some things where analyzing the Makefiles is useful while for many others it’s more likely to be a red herring.
Getting started with CMake can be a bit tedious, because you don’t know what is going on under the hood.
verbose, debug and message features help in better understanding how things are working. I suggest you look into what CMake has to offer in this regards. Sorry, cannot provide a link atm.