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Historian Day (Claiming a Continent) surveys the justifications that nations have offered for conquering other peoples, and lays out the process of claiming a territory by a symbolic act like planting a flag, then by mapping the land and naming it. Many of his examples are familiar-the Spanish in Central and South America, the Germans in Eastern Europe. But he includes less familiar instances, such as Japan's 18th-century takeover of the Ainu culture on the island of Hokkaido and the contest between the Dutch, French and English to claim Australia. As interesting as Day's stories are, he comes up short on interpretation and analysis. Much more could have been made, for example, of the impact of population pressures. And the book lacks almost any examples of conquests in the ancient world, a striking omission when one considers that modern nations have looked to Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome for models in their own empire building. Nevertheless, history buffs' curiosity will be piqued by Day's accounts of lesser known conquests. Maps. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.