The War Nerd puts it succinctly:
"I don't live this double life, benefiting from the fact that my house is built on some other tribe's land and then pretending to regret that. I'll always remember having to study Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and everyone sobbing for the poor Indians, but nobody's gonna give them the land back. I mean, one way or the f*#king other: either you give them the land back, or you admit you're a predator and you eat meat."
[Note: I am not endorsing imperialism or genocide here. I am criticizing hypocrisy and self-deluding moralizers. By all means give them their land back, or at least try harder to make things right, before lecturing other nations about international law or human rights.]
Podcast interview with the author. In the interview Day notes that the idea for the book came from the contrasting attitudes of Churchill and Australian Prime Minister Menzies during the second world war. Churchill seemed confident that Britain as a nation and people could survive a defeat by the Germans, whereas Menzies feared that the European presence in Australia could not survive a Japanese victory.
Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others
The history of the world has been the history of peoples on the move, as they occupy new lands and establish their claims over them. Almost invariably, this has meant the violent dispossession of the previous inhabitants. Whether it is the Normans in England, the Chinese in Tibet, the Germans in Poland, the Indonesians in West Papua, or the British and Americans in North America, the claiming of other people's lands and the supplanting of one people by another has shaped the history of societies from the ancient pastto the present day. David Day tells the story of how this happened - the ways in which invaders have triumphed and justified conquest which, as he shows is a bloody and often prolonged process that can last centuries. And while each individual conquest is ultimately unique, nevertheless they often share a number of qualities, from the re-naming of the conquered land and the invention of myth to justify what has taken place, to the exploitation of the conquered resources and people, and even to the outright slaughter of the original inhabitants. Above all, as Day shows in this hugely bold and ambitious book, conquest can have deep and long-lasting consequences - for the conquered, the conquerors, and for the wider course of world history.
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, author of The Colonial Empires
David Day's thesis is simple but controversial: it is that no nation or people now exists who have been in continuous occupation of the land which they regard as their own, and that there is none that did not seize the land on which they live from some previous possessors by force of conquest.
This deceptively simple, indeed obvious, conclusion based on wide reading has profound implications for the ways in which we view the exercise of power, the notion of ‘just war’, the theoretical underpinnings of any modern nation's right to exist. It also profoundly challenges the basic polarity of postcolonial studies, that between colonizer and colonized.
Judges' comments, Gleebooks Prize