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George Lucas: A Life

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,263 ratings  ·  362 reviews
The essential biography of the influential and beloved filmmaker George Lucas

On May 25, 1977, a problem-plagued, budget-straining independent science-fiction film opened in a mere thirty-two American movie theaters. Conceived, written, and directed by a little-known filmmaker named George Lucas, the movie originally called The Star Wars quickly drew blocks-long lines, burs
Hardcover, 550 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
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 ·  2,263 ratings  ·  362 reviews

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Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
After reading one of the other biographies he penned, I knew it was only a matter of time before I returned to tackle another piece by Brian Jay Jones. In this thoroughly explored piece, Jones tackles the life and times of George Lucas, who was the man behind the lens of many iconic films, most notably six of the Star Wars saga and Indiana Jones, that iconic hero. Jones offers a comprehensive look into the man’s life and a great deal of behind the scenes to exemplify why the reader ought to take ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, library
This biography was very informative and had a great narrative. I unexpectedly picked it up from the library while getting another book. I definitely do not regret picking it up even though it took me a while to get through it. I can say there was a lot I didn't know that I'm glad that I know now and I would recommend it for others who love love, technology, history, and of course Star Wars.

There is one thing that I didn't like and that would be the constant repetition of the same information. It
Here's something I never thought I'd say: George Lucas is a complicated man. A riddle wrapped in an enigma, wearing a flannel button-down.

He's a man blessed with vision but cursed with poor communication skills, a shrewd businessman who was never in it for the money, a passionate director who went twenty-two years without directing a movie, a logical cool-headed micromanager who found himself nevertheless genuinely hurt when his ardent fans turned on him.

This is not a book about Star Wars. But
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In the 1960’s the studio system with stars under contract was essentially gone, but the studio attitude and culture were still alive. Film executives were stunned by the success of “Easy Rider” and had still not adjusted when Lucas, Spielberg and Coppola arrived on the scene. Of the three, Lucas made the most fundamental changes in film making and the way business was done.

Brian Jay Jones takes you through a childhood where comics supplied the excitement missing in his family and school life. In
Dean Cummings
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“You know, maybe I want to be a director. I don’t want people to tell me what to do.”

I was a thought that suddenly flashed into the conscious of the young George Lucas. A moment of clarity that set the course of his personal and professional lives.

It came at the 15% point of Brian Jay Jones masterfully written biography of the great filmmaker.

I paused at this quote, remembering that someone once said something rather profound about moments like these. After a little searching I discovered it
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I read Brian Jay Jones' biography of Jim Henson when it first came out and found myself captivated. Jones conveyed Henson's passion for his work and his joie de vivre. When I saw that Jones had written a book about George Lucas, I was cautiously optimistic. I was interested to see what somebody with Jones' talent could do with one of the most influential filmmakers in history. On the other hand, I wondered if the world really needed another biography of George Lucas.

After reading the book, I've
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this biography about George Lucas. His vision for his craft was evident. I liked that this wasn't all sunshine and roses. He seemed dedicated to doing things 'his way' as he set out in college.
He immediately started doing things outside the box. When he had a little power, a little money and a little fame, he set up his business so that he'd have complete control over everything. I thought it was ironic that we created the same environment he bucked against in college and his early mo
Carol Storm
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
You couldn't possibly ask for a more sympathetic and understanding biographer than Brian Jay Jones. He really bends over backwards to make George Lucas seem sympathetic at every stage of his life. The only problem is, it doesn't work. George Lucas comes across as a creepy little guy who hates emotion and genuinely prefers machines to people. A lot of reviewers have commented on the fact that Lucas' first wife, Marcia, comes across as much more engaging and talented than her husband. But the prob ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was a good exploration of George Lucas life and career. Most of the book dealt with his Star Wars era since that makes the bulk of his story. Some times used to cover Indiana Jones and others but not as much as Star Wars. This book is good but some issues with incorrect facts for example the book stated that "Avatar" was the highest grossing film of 2010 but its considered to be 2009. This was one of the few mistakes that it had but overall the book was entertaining and showcases the i ...more
Lynne Stringer
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A detailed, informative biography on a fascinating subject.
I'd already read Skywalking, which covers up to the making of Return of the Jedi, so was interested to hear the story after that time. While this book (as with most talking about Lucas' life) focused more on his early life, it covered the later stuff too, including quite a lot of things I had no idea about. It was a good read and an enjoyable one, and it didn't feel to me like I was reading a long book. That's usually a good sign. :-)
W. Whalin
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating Insights Into the Life of George Lucas

Well-written biographies are revealing and filled with valuable lessons for the reader. Brian Jay Jones has crafted an excellent biography GEORGE LUCAS. I listened to the audiobook version and heard it cover to cover. While today, George Lucas is on the Forbes list as one of the wealthiest people in the U.S. (a billionaire in fact), he came from a humble background. Growing up in Modesto, California and the son of a business man who owned a stati
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm guessing this not an authorised biography, as Lucas comes across as less than mythical and certainly no saint, but rather as an eccentric artist and business manager with an almost pathological need for total control. It isn't a hatchet-job, either, but rather a more realistic, non-hagiographical, non-sensational, non-scandalous narrative of the life of one of our generation's last great shapers of western culture. The greatness, the flaws, the creativity, the mis-steps, the vision, the blin ...more
CJ Spear
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
George Lucas, the modern day Homer/Thomas Edison, has received a biography that pulls no punches and truly honors his incredible legacy.

Brian Jay Jones has written an incredibly compelling account of Lucas's life and his impact on cinema. The insights this book offers illuminate how each of his iconic films were affected and formed by his life experiences and crises.

Lucas doesn't get enough credit for his influence, and yet he doesn't care about that. The biography doesn't portray a man obsesse
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
For such a dull, humorless, somewhat authoritarian and anti-social, and stubborn director and writer and, honestly, a bit of a genius, George Lucas makes a pretty fascinating subject of a biography. This takes you from his childhood in Modesto, CA right up to his billionaire status after selling his empire, of sorts, to Disney. You learn about his relationships with Spielberg and the prickly, yet mentor-like friendship with Francis Ford Coppola. He wanted to make art films and he did in film sch ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I cannot give this book high enough praise, based mainly on the author's research and easy style, which makes the book flow from start to finish much like a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. I went into this book with a masters in Star Wars, I emerged with a Ph.D. It should have been called "A History of Star Wars, with oh yeah, some George Lucas too" which is praise, not criticism. The book was less about George's emotional, interpersonal life, and more about his professional life, which, l ...more
Jay Willoughby
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

From someone since I was a child who inspired me to do what I want to do today for a career, Lucas’s story is something I knew of quite well but in some places not to this extent.

Being on this journey to read about ultimately giving away his baby to Disney was heartbreaking to read. You genuinely felt sorrow for the loss of the creation of a franchise he made with just a pencil and yellow line note pad.

This book has inspired me more to tell stories and most importantly, to not le
It feels like quite an accomplishment to have gotten through this hefty tome. It was endlessly fascinating, though, and I learned so much about not just George Lucas, but the strides in film technology that came from his mind and his companies.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
I have mixed feelings about this book, but overall I enjoyed it. Last year I read Jones's book on Jim Henson, and I feel like that one was much better researched and more of a passion project for Jones. That said, Lucas does not have some of Jim Henson's character flaws that tainted my opinion of him, so it was easier for me to enjoy this book.

It was fun to read about George Lucas as a film student. I loved the story about Steven Spielberg (also a film school student at the time) watching one o
Fascinating book and one of the best biographies I've read lately. It is well written and pulls no punches. George Lucas is a complicated man and, whether you love him or not, there's no denying his passion. From American Graffiti and Willow to Indiana Jones and Star Wars, Lucas touched souls and changed our viewing experience. When the technology wasn't there, the Lucas companies developed new technologies to help power his visions and dreams. The behind the scenes and animation developments we ...more
Barry Hammond
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Despite his being one of the most famous film-makers on the planet, I really didn't know much about George Lucas prior to reading this biography. Brian Jay Jones takes you inside Lucas's life and allows you to understand the people, places, interests, and drives that shaped his life. What emerges most is his desire for control, though that's softened when you understand his frustrations at his lack-of-control and the somewhat arbitrary nature of studio decisions on his early films. It's an inter ...more
L. Sevilla
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Jam-packed with every detail you wanted (or didn't want) to know about George Lucas, although long, tedious and boring at times.
Jack Herbert Christal Gattanella
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio
"I love cinema. All kinds... no matter how big, no matter how small. I love to watch them. I love to make them. But if I didn't have anyone to enjoy them or appreciate them, there wouldn't be any point. So thank you all for going to the movies - especially mine!" - Lucas accepting the AFI Lifetime achievement award

(From the writing of Return, nay the "Revenge," of the Jedi):
"As (Lucas) described Luke dragging the mortally wounded Vader to safety near the conclusion of the film, Lucas, with a st
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most engaging, fun non-fiction books I’ve listened to in a while. I started out meaning to just listen to a few sections for a story podcast I produce for kids (lookup Bedtime History on Apple Podcasts or YouTube if you are interested), but quickly got lost in the details of George Lucas’s filmmaking career, the making of Star Wars, the history of ILM, THX, LucasFilms, Skywalker Ranch, even Pixar who I learned started at ILM before they were bought by Steve Jobs. Lucas is a fa ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
“Star Wars” opened in the UK when I was 8, the absolute perfect age and it has remained a firm favourite of mine ever since and I’ve been equally fascinated by George Lucas for most of that time too, especially after reading Dale Pollock’s excellent “Skywalking”. This huge (the hardback is 472 pages before the notes and references) book takes Lucas up to 2016 and although the bulk of it is cut-and-paste (there are a few original interviews, mainly from people I haven’t seen quoted in the past), ...more
Charlotte Jones
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, owned
I didn't know much about George Lucas going into this but I had assumptions based on the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and also the Star Wars prequels. However this biography completely changed my mind.

I liked that this biography was very well researched and honest; the author didn't she away from the fact that Lucas doesn't come across well all the time. The writing style is engaging and I was hooked to the story as I would have been with good fiction.

I was not aware of just how much Lucas' dete
Liz Dee
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was really eye opening. I didn't even know that George Lucas had other movies! I'm interested in seeing American Graffiti and re-watching the Indiana Jones movies. The man sounds like a very complicated man. His tendencies to control everything was surprising. I didn't know that about the man either; very interesting. And I always thought the Star Wars IV, V, VI were intentionally made first because the technology at the time was not ready for Episodes I,II, & III, but it turns that was not ...more
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, star-wars
What a brilliant book! Incredibly well-written and I was vastly entertained by the different ways I could dunk on George Lucas. It's difficult to write a biography about a still-living person who is also insanely private, but I think this book did a marvelous job of it. A definite must read for most Star Wars fans, but I was particularly enraptured by the history of the development of technology as overseen by George Lucas. Love or hate Star Wars, the man did some incredible work developing some ...more
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well written and an all-around great biography. I’ve loved Star Wars since I was very little, growing up during the years that Star Wars first came out. Some of the tidbits from this book I knew, most others I did not. Definitely a great read about what led Lucas to pursue film, how he fought for his ideas, his beginning films, his progression with the Star Wars story, and how he beat the Hollywood system and beyond.

As a side note, my family and I recently took a road trip to the east coast. Wh
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fairly complete biography of Lucas, starting from his early years as a kid growing up in Northern California through his sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. Lots of insight into the technology of ILM and the folks that created the special effects for many famous movies. Also covers his personal life which is difficult because he is such a recluse and rarely gives interviews -- I learned a thing or two. Very well researched, very thorough, and entertaining to read.
Myk Little
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This isn't a feel-good book. It's sad, even when there are triumphs. Brian Jones knows how to drag out all the bad luck during filming, awful reviews, and depression, but when the films do great, he speeds through it. He's only happy when it rains. I know there's more to Lucas than this.
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Brian Jay Jones is the award-winning, bestselling biographer of some of the world's most iconic creative geniuses, from American writer Washington Irving and Muppet master Jim Henson, to Star Wars creator George Lucas and children's writer/artist Dr. Seuss.

Brian's biography of Jim Henson won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Biography of 2013, an honor he still appreciates every day.

A note from

News & Interviews

    Pulitzer Prize–winning literary critic Michiko Kakutani, the former chief book critic of The New York Times, is the author of the newly...
43 likes · 11 comments
“a whole generation has grown up without fairy tales.” 2 likes
“Lucas wasn’t paying for a movie; he was buying his own creative freedom.” 2 likes
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