Synopses & Reviews
How did a few notes scribbled on a legal pad in 1973 by George Lucas, a man who hated writing, turn into a four billion dollar franchise that has quite literally transformed the way we think about entertainment, merchandizing, politics, and even religion? A cultural touchstone and cinematic classic, Star Wars
has a cosmic appeal that no other movie franchise has been able to replicate. From Jedi-themed weddings and international storm-trooper legions, to impassioned debates over the digitization of the three Star Wars
prequels, to the shockwaves that continue to reverberate from Disneys purchase of the beloved franchise in 2012, the series hasnt stopped inspiring and inciting viewers for almost forty years. Yet surprisingly little is known about its history, its impactor where its headed next.
In How Star Wars Conquered the Universe Chris Taylor unearths the human-scale stories that have gone into the making of this galactic-sized legend, and describes how and why Star Wars has been such an astonishing success. In a richly detailed narrative, Taylor traces the history of the series from its difficult birth through four drafts, a disastrous first cut, and many sequels and spin-offs. Today, he shows, Star Wars finds itself at a crossroads, with a new company holding the reins and a new trilogy looming on the horizon. Interspersing the story of Star Wars evolution with in-depth portraits of all the major names behind the films, as well as reportage about the franchises awesome cultural reach and its immensely lucrative business operations, Taylor shows that Star Wars has become ubiquitous: It is loved as much by children as adults, and as much by women as by men. Its action figures now outnumber human beings. And the films themselves have a reach that extends far beyond their viewership; even most so-called Star Wars virgins” know that Darth Vader is Lukes father, and can identify an Ewok (remarkable, considering that the creatures are never named in any of the Star Wars films). This incredible fertility of the Star Wars universe, Taylor explains, is reflected in its bottom line; the films merchandising revenue alone rivals the GDP of a small country. And with the series fandom only continuing to grow (despite the general consensus that the recent trilogy was an artistic failure), chances are good that Star Wars will still be galvanizing our imaginationsand minting moneyfor generations to come.
An energetic, witty account of this stunning cinematic and business success story, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is the saga of how a young filmmakers idle idea became such an immense, transformative cultural force.
An excellent look at the genesis of Star Wars
.... The book is loaded with tidbits about the creation of the films, worth the price of admission alone
[Taylors] put together a volume that's honest and interesting and one that's completely reignited my passion for Star Wars
[A] tour de force.... Taylor's research is staggering, and even fans who believe they know all there is to know about the film franchise will find much to learnand savor.”
An unconventional approach that serves to bring a spark of life that might otherwise go missing from a straightforward commercial or cinematic look at Star Wars.”
Even obsessives will likely find much that's news to them ... worthy of being savored ... amusing ... reveals what a huge role serendipity played in Star Wars.”
New York Post
Delivers a payload of information... you will find intense emotions in its observations of a battle for autonomy within corporate cinema, and to the public that swoons for Lucas products.”
San Francisco Chronicle
Here, finally, is a book that, in its very title, separates the tough from the wusses when it comes to exactly the kind of pop-culture consumption, digestion, regurgitation and entrail-reading that behan with George Lucass space fairy tale. The amusingly hyperbolic (but serious) title, with its cheerily fevered (but serious) assumption of agreement with the premise and delightfully blinkered (but serious) conviction in the importance of the topic, distills everything one needs to know about the kind of insanely microresearched and breezily written book this is.”
New York Times Book Review
Exhaustive... [a] thorough account... those of us more casually in tune with the Force will find more than a few tasty nuggets.”
Wall Street Journal
At its heart, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is a love letter to a franchise that has become entrenched in contemporary culture in more ways than we could possibly count.... A history of the Star Wars franchise packed with trivia and anecdotes that will delight any fan.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers
An immensely readable look at the worldwide impact of the Star Wars saga over the decades.”
Taylor brings a genuine love of pop and nerd culture to this comprehensive retrospective on one of the 20th century's most popular film series.... Taylor has compiled an impressive collection of background research and insider info that any fan would be glad to own.”
Taylors fan-boy enthusiasm coupled with his inviting narrative style make this a fun and informative read for sf enthusiasts, media studies and marketing students, film industry professionals, and aspiring Jedi Knights.”
Its impossible to imagine a Star Wars fan who wouldnt love this book
It really is hard to imagine a book about Star Wars being any more comprehensive than this one. Its full of information and insight and analysis, and its so engagingly written that its a pure joy to read.... There are plenty of books about Star Wars, but very few of them are essential reading. This one goes directly to the top of the pile.”
Booklist (starred review)
A smart, engaging book...welcome reading for fans of Star Warsor, for that matter, of THX 1138.”
[A] terrific new book
This is a wildly entertaining book, and if its not the definitive history of the making of Star Wars, I don't know what is. But its more than that: it tells a rollicking good story about storytelling itself, about the intersection between art and commerce, and paints surely the most complete and deeply felt portrait of George Lucas to date.”
Dave Eggers, author of The Circle and A Hologram for the King
Chris Taylor's colorful biography of Star Wars, the franchise that shaped modern culture, is more than just a geek's delight. It is a creativity manualand shows how the relationship between films and fans can stimulate innovation.”
Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution and Steve Jobs
Smart. Eloquent. Definitive. This is the book youre looking for.”
Lev Grossman, author of the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy
Its impossible to overstate the cultural, social and even political impact of Star Wars. It started as a balm for a people racked by moral confusion, a juvenile bolt hole for a nation with shattered self-esteem, but the blast wave of enthusiasm and love it inspired was to engulf the planet. Culturally speaking it is, quite simply, the Force. Chris Taylors affectionate and hugely entertaining book tracks the phenomenon from inception to dominance and with a wry smile, asks us to look at the size of that thing!”
Simon Pegg, actor and Star Wars fan
George Lucas didn't only create an iconic film franchise, but also a mind-virus thats infected the imaginations of billions of people around the world. Chris Taylor delivers an exuberant forensic analysis of the phenomenon in How Star Wars Conquered the Universea must-read for any fan, film buff, or student of modern culture.”
Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Every Star Wars fan should pick up a copy of How Star Wars Conquered the Universe.... Taylors extensive exploration of the history of Star Wars and the impact it has had on popular culture makes for an eye-opening and entertaining read.... This book remains a necessary item for any bookshelf.”
The Wookiee Gunner
This is the best nonfiction Star Wars book Ive read and it will appeal to more than just the Star Wars super fan.”
Chris Taylor not only manages to put a fresh spin on an old story, but also takes readers on a memorable trip through the past, present, and future of Star Wars fandom
I dont know of any other book that takes such a comprehensive and in-depth look at fandom.”
Far Far Away Radio
Even if youre a Star Wars savant, its a fun read.... Hell, give it to your friends and family who are casual fans theyll be sure to get a kick out of it as well.”
Chris Taylors How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is the definitive guide to the first forty years of the Star Wars galaxy. Part biography, part history, part fanboy gossip, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is an accessible, fun read for any lover of Star Wars.”
Ian Doescher, author of the William Shakespeare's Star Wars trilogy
Whether they read the novelization of the first Star Wars before the film came out, like me, or were blown away by Revenge of the Sith, anyone touched by the most enduring space fantasy mythology of the past two generations will thrill to Taylor's passionate telling of the saga behind the saga: How a lonely tinkerer from a backwater town changed the world via interplanetary heroism. To Star Wars obsessives and those wanting to understand modern pop culture: this is absolutely the book you are looking for.”
Brian Doherty, author of This Is Burning Man
Finally, fans get the full history! The Force is strong with Chris Taylor, who gives us enough stories and juicy details to impress even Darth Vader. This book belongs in every Star Wars collection.”
Bonnie Burton, author of The Star Wars Craft Book and You Can Draw: Star Wars
Why do most people know what an Ewok is, even if they havent seen Return of the Jedi
? How have Star Wars
action figures come to outnumber human beings? When did the films combined merchandising revenue manage to rival the GDP of a small country?
As journalist Chris Taylor shows, Star Wars might never have been such a wild success if not for the eclectic cast of writers, editors, sound engineers, and marketers who labored behind the scenes to bring George Lucass vision to life and sell it to a skeptical public. Essential reading for Star Wars fans or anyone interested in the business of entertainment, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe traces the saga of this media juggernaut from its inception in the early 1970s to the 2012 sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, arguing that the franchise will still be galvanizing our imaginationsand minting moneyfor generations to come.
In 1973, a young filmmaker named George Lucas scribbled some notes for a far-fetched space-fantasy epic. Some forty years and $37 billion later, Star Wars
related products outnumber human beings, a growing stormtrooper army spans the globe, and Jediism” has become a religion in its own right. Lucass creation has grown into far more than a cinematic classic; it is, quite simply, one of the most lucrative, influential, and interactive franchises of all time. Yet incredibly, until now the complete history of Star Wars
its influences and impact, the controversies it has spawned, its financial growth and long-term prospectshas never been told.
In How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, veteran journalist Chris Taylor traces the series from the difficult birth of the original film through its sequels, the franchises death and rebirth, the prequels, and the preparations for a new trilogy. Providing portraits of the friends, writers, artists, producers, and marketers who labored behind the scenes to turn Lucass idea into a legend, Taylor also jousts with modern-day Jedi, tinkers with droid builders, and gets inside Boba Fetts helmet, all to find out how Star Wars has attracted and inspired so many fans for so long.
Since the first films release in 1977, Taylor shows, Star Wars has conquered our culture with a sense of lightness and exuberance, while remaining serious enough to influence politics in far-flung countries and spread a spirituality that appeals to religious groups and atheists alike. Controversial digital upgrades and poorly received prequels have actually made the franchise stronger than ever. Now, with a savvy new set of bosses holding the reins and Episode VII on the horizon, it looks like Star Wars is just getting started.
An energetic, fast-moving account of this creative and commercial phenomenon, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe explains how a young filmmakers fragile dream beat out a surprising number of rivals to gain a diehard, multigenerational fan baseand why it will be galvanizing our imaginations and minting money for generations to come.
About the Author
is the deputy editor of Mashable
, one of the world's largest independent news websites. He has covered the intersection of business and culture for two decades as a writer and editor for Time, Business 2.0, Fortune Small Business,
and Fast Company
. A graduate of Merton College, Oxford and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, he lives in Berkeley, California.