Part I illuminates the early course of European political and cultural imperialism in the region and traces the rivalries of powerful, expansionist European governments. The documents reproduced here chronicle the manner in which Europe's military and economic dominance fostered a superficial Westernization, which in turn undermined traditional political and economic patterns and social values.
The first nine volumes concern the Ottoman Empire: in the Balkans, 1856-1875; revolt in the Balkans, 1875-1876; diplomacy of the powers, 1876-1878; the war with Russia, 1877-1878; after the Berlin settlement, 1878-1883; in Asia, 1860-1880; finance and trade, 1860-1879; and in North Africa, 1859-1882 and 1876-1885.
Volumes 10 covers Persia, 1856-1885. Volumes 11 and 12 cover Britain, Russia, and Central Asia for 1865-1878 and 1879-1907. Volumes 13 and 14 cover Persia, Britain, and Russia for 1886- 1907 and 1907-1914. Britain, Egypt, and the Sudan, 1885-1914, is the subject of Volume 15.
The next two volumes concern the Ottoman Empire, Arabia, and the Gulf for 1890-1914 and 1885-1907. Arabia, the Gulf, and the Baghdad Railway, 1907-1914, is the subject of Volume 18. The last two volumes in Part I return to the Ottoman Empire: nationalism and revolution, 1885-1908; and under the young Turks, 1908-1914.