Star Wars and History

Lucasfilm, Author
Edited by Nancy R. Reagin and Janice Leidl. Wiley, $29.95 (328p) ISBN 978-0-470-60200-3
Reviewed on: 11/05/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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Neither in-depth enough to be truly useful nor light enough to entertain the casual reader, this collection of essays by scholars who are also fans examines the historical and social inspirations behind the Star Wars saga are at great length. No aspect of the franchise is left untouched, as historians Reagin (editor, Harry Potter and History) and Leidl (editor of the forthcoming The Hobbit and History) and their colleagues cover everything from war to politics, economics, and society. In this fashion, Padmé is compared to Cleopatra, the Death Star to the atom bomb, the Jedi to Shaolin monks and samurai. While the essays are well written and thorough in their attempt to find a historical parallel to every facet of the Star Wars universe, the tone is dry and academic, beating the topics into the ground, such as the "Women in War and Resistance" chapter (written by the editors), which invokes lesser-known characters from the Clone Wars cartoon to help make a point. It's no secret that George Lucas, who cooperated with the editors, drew from many sources to create his films, but the drive to relate everything to a historical precedent strips away the magic. 192 b&w and 64 color photos. (Nov.)
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