Book Review: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe – Chris Taylor

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe coverTitle: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise
Author: Chris Taylor
ISBN: 9780465089987
Pages: 488
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Basic Books
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Social/Cultural
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:

It is hard to argue that Star Wars has become a cultural icon, far outpacing the three original movies that started it all. In this history and cultural/social analysis, Chris Taylor looks at the Star Wars trilogies and analyzes their origins, history, and how they came to pervade pop culture so broadly and deeply.

Snapshot Review:

A fascinating history of Star Wars and everything that has come with it, this book is an absolute must-read for any fan of the series. Taylor revels in the details, but always manages to keep the narrative entertaining and focused.

Full Review:

I am one of the many children who grew up on Star Wars. It’s more than just a set of movies to me; it’s inextricably linked to who I am as a person and what I grew up to be. So it was with all seriousness that I picked up How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise. I was curious about the origins of the movies, especially with all the crazy stories that flew around in the early Internet days (OB1, anyone?), and I was fascinated by the thought of an in-depth examination of just how much Star Wars has become a pop culture phenomenon.

I absolutely loved the tone that Chris Taylor took with How Star Wars Conquered the Universe. He is a superfan who loves the franchise, and he, like so many others, is sometimes disappointed and frustrated by it. Indeed, Taylor looks at these feelings closely in the book, the love/hate relationship so many fans have with Star Wars and George Lucas. It’s not something that I’ve often thought about, but it’s remarkable that those who love the original trilogy the most dearly are the ones who hate the prequels the most, yet they all came from the same place: George Lucas.

And it’s also fascinating how the man himself had a love/hate relationship with Star Wars, as Taylor outlines in How Star Wars Conquered the Universe. It allowed him to do whatever he wanted, but it’s also haunted him his whole life. It earned him legions of the most devoted superfans who turned their backs on him, slamming him with their vitriol, once the prequels were released. This whole strange relationship is just mindboggling, and Taylor tackles it well.

But this is about more than just fan reactions and ambivalence. How Star Wars Conquered the Universe covers the origins of Star Wars, dispelling myths and answering age-old rumors, such as whether there really have been stories for Episodes VII, VIII, and IX sitting around somewhere for years. Taylor covers the prequels with the same enthusiasm as the original trilogy and helped me see them in a new light, perhaps appreciating them more than I ever have in the past. He also discusses the fan reaction to Star Wars, telling stories that brought tears to my eyes as I read.

At its core, Star Wars has universal themes, and that’s why it speaks to people of all ages, across cultures. Taylor does an incredible job explaining how and why it’s become such a phenomenon, telling a fascinating story and entertaining the reader on every page. It’s not easy to keep a 400+ page nonfiction book interesting on every single page, much less riveting, yet Taylor does it with ease and grace. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you should be in line on release day to grab a copy of How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise. Trust me, it doesn’t disappoint.

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