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Read this novel circa late 1950s. Plot as follows from vague and imperfect memory. Earth is expanding into near stellar neighborhood. Finds planet that once held a now-vanished civilization, but which left behind remnants of very high tech science. Learns that a galaxy-conquering empire is expanding toward Earth.

Develops newly found science into weapons with the help of cat-like people in order to resist the invasion. Inflicts great casualties on empire but loses against overwhelming forces, but with almost no casualties because of force shields based on new science.

Earth leader is brought before galactic emperor, who is surprised to learn of low human casualties. Earth leader gains one concession from galactic emperor in return for technology secrets: a single seat in the galactic empire’s senate/parliament. Human plan is to use that one seat as a platform to spread human ideals to galaxy-wide peoples.

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  • Reminds me of Kate Elliott's Jaran novels, but those came out in the 1990s.
    – Spencer
    Jan 14, 2020 at 22:49
  • Where did the cat-like people come from? Same world as where the ancient remnants of a vanished civilization were, or some other habitable world which human explorers had also found?
    – Lorendiac
    Jan 15, 2020 at 0:55

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UPDATE: Found it!! Pattern for Conquest by George O Smith 1949. Memory was mostly correct, except that there was no abandoned alien civilization – the earth people took technology from the cat-people and improved on it in a joint effort against the galactic empire. Every bit as good as I remembered. If your preferences run to 1940s-50s space operas, this is worth reading. Thanks to those who offered suggestions.

Pattern for Conquest book cover; (possibly from 1st edition)

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    I'm glad you found this and thanks for coming back to tell us! As you seem to be the person who asked the question you might want to follow the instructions to merge your accounts and that way you will be able to accept your own answer and retake ownership of the question!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 7, 2020 at 16:04

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