Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pg. 99: David Day's "Conquest"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: David Day's Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this bold, sweeping book, David Day surveys the ways in which one nation or society has supplanted another, and then sought to justify its occupation - for example, the English in Australia and North America, the Normans in England, the Spanish in Mexico, the Japanese in Korea, the Chinese in Tibet. Human history has been marked by territorial aggression and expansion, an endless cycle of ownership claims by dominant cultures over territory occupied by peoples unable to resist their advance. Day outlines the strategies, violent and subtle, such dominant cultures have used to stake and bolster their claims - by redrawing maps, rewriting history, recourse to legal argument, creative renaming, use of foundation stories, tilling of the soil, colonization and of course outright subjugation and even genocide. In the end the claims they make reveal their own sense of identity and self-justifying place in the world. This will be an important book, an accessible and captivating macro-narrative about empire, expansion, and dispossession.
Among the praise for Conquest:
“...Wide ranging and vigorously written...a clear and stimulating read.”
--BBC History Magazine

“History is the trunk of the humanities tree with the other disciplines — literary studies, economics, political science, etc — merely off-shoots. Or so I'm tempted to argue after reading a book as stimulating as this.... Day's wide-ranging investigations and lively writing give the idea a freshness that makes the book a pleasure to read and an eye-opener. ... This is history on the grand scale, but with an eye to the telling detail. ... This is a book to be welcomed. Here's a commercial publisher putting out what is essentially an academic work (complete with footnotes), but one conceived and executed in a way to make it accessible to intelligent readers.”

“In Conquest David Day poses the question fundamental to all studies of imperial expansion by all societies: ‘how does a society that moves onto the land of another make that place its own?’ To find an answer he examines ten common strategies, ranging from striking a legal claim to colonization. This is a highly original approach. It demonstrates a spectacular knowledge of contrasting situations across the globe and forces the reader to rethink old certainties. It should be read by all students of ‘supplanting societies’ of all races and in all continents.”
--Emeritus Professor David Fieldhouse, Jesus College, Cambridge, author of The Colonial Empires
Learn more about Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others and the author at the Oxford University Press website and David Day's website.

David Day has written widely on Australian history and the history of the Second World War. His recent books include The Politics of War, the prize-winning biographies Chifley and John Curtin: A Life, and the best-selling history of Australia, Claiming a Continent.

The Page 99 Test: David Day's Conquest.

--Marshal Zeringue