David Day


This very readable book challenges the ways in which we think about the course of modern history and the present state of the world. Highly praised on its publication in Australia, and already being translated into three other languages, Conquest draws on examples from across the world to reveal the dramatic and often bloody process engaged in by societies as they attempt to supplant the hold that the pre-existing inhabitants enjoy over their lands.

Effortlessly moving back as far as the Aztecs and the founding of Constantinople, and forward to the climactic conflicts of our present time, the book ranges across countless examples, from Columbus’ discovery of the ‘New World’ to the presently changing ethnic composition of Los Angeles; from the Japanese conquest of Hokkaido to the German invasion of Poland.

In doing so, Conquest shows how the process of claiming a territory is a never-ending one that shapes the history of the particular societies, as well as the world at large. More importantly, it creates a new paradigm of supplanting societies that challenges our understanding of the course of modern history and the fundamental forces that have helped to shape it.

Book Details:

  • Author: David Day
  • Published Year: 2005
  • Rights Sold
    • Aust/NZ: HarperCollins, Sydney
    • UK: OUP
    • US: OUP
    • Spain: Critica, Barcelona
    • Korea: Human & Books, Seoul
    • Czech: D-Consult, Prague
David Day

David Day

David Day’s big break came when he sold the film rights to a seminar paper while doing his Ph.D. at Cambridge. That led to the highly acclaimed, Menzies and Churchill at War (1986), which has seldom been out of print. Two more books on the Second World War were published soon after and have been re-published by HarperCollins as The Politics of War (2003).In 1996, David published a groundbreaking history of Australia, Claiming a Continent, which developed the notion of Australia as a supplanting society. Published by HarperCollins, the book won the Non-Fiction Prize at the Adelaide Fes...
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Book Reviews

  • "Day proposes a new term of art – not simply to colonise but to supplant – and a new concept, supplanting societies"
    Times Higher Education
  • "Full of interesting facts and thoughts… This is a book with fine scholarship, but one that deserves a wide readership."
    Times Literary Supplement
  • "...Wide ranging and vigorously written...a clear and stimulating read."
    BBC History Magazine
  • "In his latest offering, Conquest: A New History of the Modern World, David Day attempts nothing less than to uncover the central dynamic in the establishment and growth of nations and empire. Karl Marx saw class struggle as the driving engine of history. In contrast, the French historian Fernand Braudel nominated geography as primary. In contrast to both, Dr Day posits the dynamics of conquest, and the ‘genocidal imperative’, as the key determinants in historical development. West Australian “ What could be more important than discussion, analysis and dispute about the forces that have shaped human society, without an understanding of which the present cannot be appreciated or the future sensibly speculated about. ... 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. ..."
  • "Much of world history has been of one society supplanting another. We can see it in the demise of the Incas and the Aztecs at the hands of the Spanish; the devastating European conquest of North America; and the continuing struggle between Jews and Arabs over Israel. Chapter by chapter, Day systematically breaks down and examines the critical elements in this process of taking over. Day, in his follow-up to his Claiming a Continent, sweeps expertly and effortlessly across the globe and into the pages of history to back up his arguments."
    Herald Sun
  • "Never forget we are but temporary occupiers of the land. The waves of migration and invasion reshape the human landscape in ways that often create bitter enmity. But conquest has been the method of transport whereby we have journeyed down the road called progress. A dark paradox."
    Australian Financial Review, Best Reads of 2005
  • " Day clearly demonstrates, the dynamic of conquest is one of the key defining aspects of history in the last 500 years. Conquest is an extremely challenging book, particularly for those in ‘new world’ countries such as Australia and the USA, as it confronts many of the underlying assumptions regarding national identity and legitimacy of tenure."
  • "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
  • "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, NSW Premier’s Prize
  • " Day's provocative and well-written book will require readers in many countries around the globe to come to grips with equally grim and brutal aspects of their history, and that alone makes it a study well worth reading and discussing. That Day's paradigm emphasizes the similarities among these disparate developments may further prompt historians who emphasize the unique nature of historical events to hone their arguments to rebut Day's contentions. This  reviewer consequently recommends Conquest highly and looks forward to the debate.  "
    Technology & Culture
  • "The virtue of Day’s book is to bring together wide-ranging examples of conquest in a well-defined argument. It is well expressed and deserves attention. The volume is an important contribution to the ongoing debate on empires and colonies in the various fields that examine this subject such as history, literature, ethnology, law and politics."
    European History Quarterly
  • "  Conquest is a remarkable exemplification of the beauty of history. I shall start by saying that this is a beautifully written book and I find it hard to put it down. Reading this book is akin to sailing around the globe, from Mexico to Japan, ancient to contemporary...Conquest draws from and contributes to many literatures. Not only will it be on the list of "must reads" for historians, it will stimulate discussions from sociologists, anthropologists, geographers and political scientists as well. A tour de force."
    Qualitative Sociology Review
  • "  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. What could be more important than discussion, analysis and dispute about the forces that have shaped human society, without an understanding of which the present cannot be appreciated or the future sensibly speculated about....Day's wide-ranging investigations and lively writing ... 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."
    Weekend Australian
  • "    Well supported with full endnotes, a selected bibliography and index, this book is a welcome addition to the libraries of conflict studies, defence analysis and military history. As one of the few books available devoted specifically to the subject, it also serves as a valuable up to date reference for those interested in subjects such as occupation, exit strategies, stability operations, long-term development and civil-military relations. Day is to be commended for tackling such a large subject with skill, delivering a book that is easy to recommend to others."
    Canadian Army Journal