As presented in the book, due to migration, the Europeans were able to explore the other areas of the world. Upon the discovery that these parts are weak and uncivilized, they then opted for conquest. As explained in the book, conquest was seen by the Europeans as the easiest and practical way to assimilate others into their society. To elucidate the aforementioned events, Pagden never fails to mention persons of historical significance and their respective contributions to the European imperial rule.
In another aspect, to have a complete grasp of the European influence, Pagden starts his historical account from the ancient period of Greece up to the present time. As cited in the book, the West is the modern equivalent of the European empire. As such, he uses the phrase Western influence to refer to the modern version of imperialism. Worthy of praise is also his clear description of the period and place of each historical episode. Compared to other history books which are lengthy and verbose, Pagden’s Peoples and Empires is short, but clear and concise.
The book actually begins with two stories quoted from Jorge Luis Borges The Story of the Warrior and the Captive. The first story tells about Droctulft, a Lombard conqueror, while the second one mentions an English grandmother who encountered a woman of her own breed raised by Indians.