Some of the pieces, such as the lectures that opened and closed Howard's tenure as Regius Professor of History at Oxford, address historiographical and educational issues. Topics covered here include the development of history teaching at Oxford University, the balance between educating specialists and lay students, and an argument for the study of history as process.
Other pieces cover broad topics. One shares the title of the collection, while others include "Ideology and International Relations", "War and Social Change", and "Military Experience in European Literature". Some of these have dated a little — the cold war still looms in several — and they take a moderately conservative perspective, for example in defending military values.
A good number of pieces deal with topics in Howard's area of specialisation, Europe in the lead up to the First World War: "Prussia in European History", "Empire, Race and War in pre-1914 Britain", "The Edwardian Arms Race", "The Doctrine of the Offensive in 1914", and "Europe on the Eve of the First World War". These are probably the major attraction of the collection, and interest in that period will probably determine the appeal of Empires, Nations and Wars for most.