Modern Library Chronicles

Peoples and Empires

A Short History of European Migration, Exploration, and Conquest, from Greece to the Present

Publisher: Modern Library
Written by one of the world’s foremost historians of human migration, Peoples and Empires is the story of the great European empires—the Roman, the Spanish, the French, the British—and their colonies, and the back-and-forth between “us” and “them,” culture and nature, civilization and barbarism, the center and the periphery. It’s the history of how conquerors justified conquest, and how colonists and the colonized changed each other beyond all recognition.



The First World Conqueror

The story of the empires of the peoples of Europe begins in ancient Greece. For the Greeks, who devised the vocabularies with which we still think about how to live our lives, were also, as they described themselves, "extreme travelers." The Cyclopes, one of whom devours...
Read More


“Two thousand years of empire compressed into two hundred pages, without sacrifice of detail or lucidity. The breadth of vision is phenomenal.” —Roy Porter

“Masterly . . . Pagden has an unerring sense of evidence, a gift of lucidity, an eye for a good story, a sharp taste for argument, and a vivid, pithy way with words. . . . He combines without obvious contrivance a survey and a story, with broad horizons and a perfect pace.” —Felipe Fernández-Armesto

“Without condescension, [Pagden] writes lucidly for the educated non-expert. Sketching a huge territory of knowledge, his compact essay belongs to a series . . . which on the strength of this volume is an admirable publishing venture indeed.” —Chicago Tribune