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How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,270 ratings  ·  376 reviews
In 1973, a young filmmaker named George Lucas scribbled some notes for a far-fetched space-fantasy epic. More than forty years and $37 billion later, Star Wars-related products outnumber human beings, a stormtrooper army spans the globe, and "Jediism" has become a religion in its own right. Lucas's creation has grown into far more than a cinematic classic; it is, quite ...more
Hardcover, 450 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 2014)
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There is no doubt that Star Wars is one of the largest and most pervasive cultural phenomenon since the first movie was released in 1977. All around the world people are familiar with light sabers and Darth Vader, Wookies and droids, Jedi and X-Wings. It has gotten to the point of cultural background noise. Everyone knows that Vader is Luke's father to the point that even the most anti-spoiler people nary bat an eyelash at that statement. But we live in a time where Star Wars and its themes are
Listen up, nerds. This book is for you.

I had never heard of it until I read the lovely Emmalita’s review, and now I am eternally grateful to her. I absolutely devoured this book. It’s one of the most thorough and interesting behind the scenes books I’ve ever read. I’ve been all up in Star Wars since I was sixteen, but reading this book made me realize I really only knew the story part of that galaxy far, far away (including the Expanded Universe). I knew very little about how the trilogy was
11811 (Eleven)
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to people who seriously geek out on the original film. TMI for everyone else.
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I should start this review with a disclaimer—I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, dedicated life-long Star Wars fan. When I talk about the most important formative influences of my childhood—the forces that shaped me most profoundly—the list includes my parents, my teachers, Sesame Street / Mr. Rogers…

And Star Wars.

As you can imagine, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor. I’m exactly the kind of audience this book was written for.

Which is why it pains me
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was a pleasingly comprehensive exploration of the entire Star Wars franchise and phenomenon, from the first scribblings of a teenage George Lucas, all the way through his entire career, up to (and beyond) the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. It covers so much: the writing, making and marketing of the films; the early scripts and treatments that are almost unrecognisable as the final stories put to film; the Expanded Universe of books, TV shows, and comics; the endless merchandising; the ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the scale of Star Wars geekdom, I am merely a padawan. I never ventured into the Extended Universe (Star Wars Rebels is exception), I have a laid-back attitude towards the prequels and certainly don’t know much of the background and legends surrounding this universe. This was why I was nervous about this book – I was afraid I would be bored by unnecessary details. My worry was unfounded.

Chris Taylor examines the origins, influences and making of the series, many people that contributed to
Thom Willis
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film
This was probably the most entertaining book I've read in a while. When I heard about this book I was not initially very interested, but I was able to get it for free or at a low cost through Audible, and started listening to it when I ran out of other stuff to listen to.

This book is simultaneously a biography of George Lucas, a history of science fiction and space fantasy, a film-making documentary, and a record of a cultural phenomenon of really unbelievable proportions. Taylor spins it as a
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Let's just assume this is a review of original version and not this horrid, full of errors and mistranslations Polish edition.
"Zakon 66"!!! For f**k's sake!
Kristy Miller
I was born in late 1982, and I do not remember a time when I hadn't seen Star Wars. I have vague memories of wandering around my preschool classroom, spouting lines from The Empire Strikes Back. I remember days throughout my childhood (and adulthood) when we would break out the popcorn popper, and marathon the Star Wars or Indiana Jones movies. I refer to my phone as R2-D2, because it is always the droid I'm looking for, with it's R2 case and light saber and R2 notification noises. In short, I'm ...more
Chris (The Genre Fiend)
Chris Taylor manages to eruditely say a lot of what I've never been able to when it comes to Star Wars. This is a lovingly written and exhaustively researched companion, detailing the history of George Lucas, the pulp science fiction scene, the evolution of digital filmmaking and, of course, Star Wars itself.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is informative, comedic, reverential and critical all at once; above all, though, it's never boring. I hesitate to say anything is the "Definitive"
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had a free audiobook download voucher and decided to give this book a whirl. It was advertised as a history of the Star Wars saga and I thought it promised a rather interesting perspective on the creative process. I thought the book would detail a great deal about how a record breaking franchise such as this is born, and it does. However, Taylor does much more than that.

By clocking in just over 21 hours long (unabridged), this book certainly tried my patience. In addition to the history of
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened-to
I'm somewhat of a Star Wars nerd. My list of bonafides?
- I own the 2006 DVD release with the ORIGINAL movies in their ORIGINAL form.
- I've seen the original trilogy hundreds of times.
- I own and have seen both made-for-tv Ewok movies hundreds of times.
- I listen to not one, but two Star Wars podcasts every week.
- I've read 42 of the Expanded Universe Star Wars books.
- I own several light sabers and blasters and regularly do battle with my 3 year old using the same. I play both good and bad guys,
Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
To those who can't wait until the release of Episode VII: this is the book you've been looking for. How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is a well-researched look at how Star Wars came to cast its shadow over American, and eventually international, culture. Taylor is a reverential yet uncompromising fan while dealing with every aspect of George Lucas' (now Disney's) hallowed franchise.

I was hooked from the beginning as Taylor does a fine job of capturing the wonder and excitement of 1977. It's
Sarah - Exploring All Genres
This had potential to be a great book but was fairly disappointing with it's disorganized format.
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for any 'Star Wars' fan.
Jill Myles
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a dense book full of nerdiness. So. Much. Nerdiness. And I loved every minute of it.

I'm a Star Wars nerd. I mean, maybe I'm not as big a fan as some people, but I know my Ahsoka Tano from my Aayla Secura, my Mandalorians from my midichlorians (ick) and I've seen both trilogies multiple times. I've read some of the books. I play or have played a lot of the games. I might have a crush on BB8. And I've recently been burned out on fiction, which happens from time to time when you write
Dec 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: cannonball-8
Really 3.5.

Listen, this is a very good book. It just wasn’t the droid I was looking for. Well, more accurately it was the droid I was looking for, but he brought along his annoying protocol droid buddy who bothered me with information about himself (wow, I think I just made a reference that equates a book about George Lucas to C-3PO… I am such a nerd).

But I am only rating this book three stars, compared to higher ratings you’ll see nearly everywhere else. Why? Because while Taylor obviously
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture, audiobooks
A biography of the series / franchise / legend, as well as the creator, George Lucas - this books was a lot of fun for any Star Wars fan. Lots of behind-the-scenes stories, early concepts and drafts of the screenplays, and the "expanded" universe that pushes past the original trilogy and prequels into all of the 'space betweens': comics, novels, animated series, cosplay, etc.

A large amount of time and ink was spent on Episode 4 concepts, and the process that Lucas took in the mid-1970s, while
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you grew up with Star Wars, you will enjoy this book which tells the story of George Lucas and the many fans that have made Star Wars a cultural phenomenon. Many entertaining anecdotes, including the origin of Wookies, engineers that build fully functional R2 units, the best order to watch the 6 movies, when President Obama rode in an elevator with Chewbacca and C3PO.

I learned about Star Wars uncut, a fan created version of the first movie spliced together from 15 second segments. I learned
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Such a fun read! I honestly though i knew everything about Star Wars. I'd read the comic, obsessed about the movies, and even saw all the audition tapes. What i didn't know was how intense the history was and all the problems they had to deal with. Great for any super star wars fan :)
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a comprehensive and quite riveting read.

I raced through the second half of this today and has certainly got me in the mood to finally see Episode VII tomorrow!
Aniruddh Sudharshan
This is the Star Wars book you have been looking for, search your feelings you know it to be true!
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended at Geek Girl Con a few years back, by a panelist on the "Geek Elders Speak" session on the history of Star Wars fandom. I was delighted that this book not only delved into fandom - from cosplayers to droid builders to collectors to fan movie maker - but also provided a detailed, entertaining look at how the first two trilogies came to be.

Taylor weaves fan stories with a biography of George Lucas and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Episodes I-VI (as well as the
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
I had no idea this book (published in 2014) existed until I came across it while browsing in Waterstones. At 512 pages (plus notes and index), I expected it to take a while to read but that wasn’t the case - it dragged me in and along and as much as I tried to slow down, I’d finished it in a week. And I feel bereft now for having done so. Chris Taylor looks at the Star Wars phenomenon both in terms of the films (and official Lucasfilm off-shoots) and their impact on society and pop culture, ...more
Melissa Hartfiel
I'm old enough to have seen the original Star Wars trilogy in theatres. I was 5 at the time. I grew up in a neighbourhood of boys and my childhood was spent "playing Star Wars". We staged live actions plays (I was always relegated toPrincess Leia or C3PO because the boys would insist they had to play the "important" boy roles). We played with action figures in our sandbox, my mom was constantly finding her tupperware containers full of Han Solos frozen in blocks of ice in our deep freeze. I had ...more
Lis Carey
In 1973, George Lucas sketched the first notes of what would become his epic space fantasy movie, Star Wars. More than four decades on, Star Wars has become a $37 billion movie franchise and media empire, and an enormous cultural force.

Taylor gives us both the history forward from that beginning through the making of the films and the sale and rebirth of the franchise under Disney, and the path from the middle class kid growing up in Modesto to the man who made that first Star Wars film and its
Sam Hval
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A revelatory and ruthlessly candid chronicle of the Star Wars property. I learned a lot more than I expected to about the history of the franchise, and especially about the creator himself. I have an entirely new outlook on the affect and intent of Star Wars, and of George Lucas as a creative entity. More than ever he is totally humanized and effectively criticized by Chris Taylor. We know where things end up, but the book feels exciting and shocking at every turn. It reads more like a ...more
Magnus Meling
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Skillestad, Erik, Edvard & Iver
Details. Oh, the details. Jesus, what a book. I have been very curious to read this book since 2015, but then I was to busy reading Lords of the Sith, Dark Disciple, Tarkin and just prepping to see The Force Awakens. I really wish I had read it then, because that was a magical time for me and millions of others and I can never feel like it again. But it doesnt take away from this great insight to the creation of George Lucas. I have heard a lot of this from YouTube videos, but its just great to ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started this book last year for my book club’s themed discussion on Star Wars books. My brother is the Star Wars fan in the family, although I like the films well enough. Despite not being a fan, it was fascinating and enjoyable to learn the story behind this pop culture phenomenon - the inspiration behind the story, George Lucas and his perpetual struggles with his creation, the staff and actors who worked in the films, all the offshoots (novels, games, animated series) and merchandise that ...more
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Highly informative and fun. Giggling all the time especially during the chapters about fans. I am still at the “anger” stage of grief regarding The Last Jedi. Somehow this book comforts me and makes me feel I am a true fan bos of the pain and anger in the form of TLJ.
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Chris Taylor (1973- ) is the deputy editor of Mashable, the world’s largest social media and technology news website. 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, ...more
“If she says “I love you,” and I say “I know,” that’s beautiful and acceptable and funny.” 1 likes
“Lucas was eager to get his ideas on the screen but desperate to outsource the scripting part. Coppola, however, insisted: a director had to learn how to write. Lucas showed him a draft. “You’re right,” Coppola said, horrified. “You can’t write.” 0 likes
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