As Davies notes in the Preface, the book contains little that is original. Primary research was rarely required. Twelve chapters span the European past from prehistory till the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The chapters contain almost three hundred so-called capsules, texts describing separate terms that often exceeds the specific time frame (e.g. Coward, Hatred, Loot or Vorkuta). In the middle part, Davies tries to avoid what he calls the bias of Western Civilization (neglect of eastern Europe), in the 20th century part he fights the Allied scheme of history. Davies notes at the end of the preface the book is "only one from an almost infinite number of histories of Europe that could be written" and that his work is "the view of one pair of eyes".