The introduction to War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires, by Peter Turchin, begins by describing the novels of Isaac Asimov, and their presumption that history follows a predictable cycle of rising and falling civilizations, evidenced by obvious and analyzable trends, and therefore can be explained by science. Dissenting views have arisen concerning this theory, including the significant arguments concerning the unpredictability of human nature.
Turchin goes on to describe the idea of an empire: what it is, how it works, and how it may fail. Although empires have not dominated all of human history, humans continue to be fascinated by the study of how empires are built and how they fall. Many parts of the world have, at some point, been ruled over by an empire in some form.
Finally, Turchin gives what he calls a "road map" to the theory in his book. He discusses the structure of social groups, including access to power and wealth, ethnicity as it influences internal cohesion, and cooperation between groups within the social structure. His main theory is that people who are on "fault-line frontiers," meaning those who are between two rapidly changing and differing social structures, have more access to power and wealth, as well as being more prepared and accustomed to cooperation, and are therefore more likely to build up future empires.