Star Wars and History

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At last?an analysis of the historical patterns that influenced the creation and storyline of the Star Wars saga

Star Wars took place long ago in a galaxy far, far away, but its epic stories are based on our own history. From Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire to the French Revolution and the Vietnam War, Star Wars and History explores the major historical turning points, heroes, and villains in human history and their impact on the creation of the Star Wars saga. Star Wars and ...

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At last—an analysis of the historical patterns that influenced the creation and storyline of the Star Wars saga

Star Wars took place long ago in a galaxy far, far away, but its epic stories are based on our own history. From Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire to the French Revolution and the Vietnam War, Star Wars and History explores the major historical turning points, heroes, and villains in human history and their impact on the creation of the Star Wars saga. Star Wars and History shows how the atomic and hydrogen bombs led to the Death Star; how Princess Leia's leadership in the Rebel Alliance resembled the daring work of intrepid women in the French Resistance during World War II and the Mexican Revolution; historical parallels between the Jedi Code and Bushido as well as those linking the Jedi culture with that of the Templar Knights and other warrior monks; and all of the history that underlies the Star Wars galaxy. Read how our own civilization's civil wars, slavery, international corporation states, and teenage queens were transformed into the epic Star Wars history and discover how Tatooine reflects the lawless frontiers of the past and Coruscant our own history of glittering and greedy capitals.

  • The first book devoted to analyzing the actual historical events in our past that influenced the creation of the space fantasy, Star Wars
  • Features 11 essays by a wise "council" of history scholars, written in close collaboration with George Lucas and Lucasfilm
  • Gives new insights into central Star Wars characters and historical figures who helped inspire them (including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Queen Amidala, Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, Lando Calrissian, Emperor Palpatine, and others)
  • Includes both stunning photos from the Lucasfilm Image Archives and historical photos that demonstrate the parallels between both worlds

Filled with fascinating historical comparisons and background that will take your experience of the Star Wars saga to a new level, Star Wars and History is an essential companion for every Star Wars fan.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Library Journal
Historical events and themes were critical to George Lucas's formation of the characters and plots in his Star Wars movies. Reagin (history & women's & gender studies, Pace Univ.; editor, Twilight and History) and Liedl (history, Laurentian Univ.; editor, The Hobbit and History), in cooperation with Lucasfilm and its archive, here explore those connections. Divided into three parts relating to wars, political history, and economics and sociology, the essays address topics from the ways dictators come to power to the horrible realities of slavery. Princess Leia is compared to underestimated female spies from the Confederacy and World War II, and the Trade Federation of Star Wars is likened to the Dutch East India Company. As the book makes clear, Though the writing is somewhat uneven and not aimed at a scholarly audience, the essays (all new), authored by scholars in a variety of fields, draw out historical nuances in the Star Wars world and allow readers to make previously unseen connections. VERDICT This approach is a compelling and productive way to interest students—and Star Wars fans—in history. Recommended for buffs of the film or of history, and to high school history students.—Elizabeth Winter, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470602003
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/20/2012
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

NANCY R. REAGIN is professor of history and women's and gender studies at Pace University. She has been active in fan organizations for more years than she cares to admit; her current research project focuses on the history of fan communities since the late nineteenth century. She is the editor of Twilight and History, Harry Potter and History, and Star Trek and History.

JANICE LIEDL is associate professor of history at Laurentian University. She has been an avid fan of Star Wars since the first film's 1977 release. Her present research deals with the history of English stepmothers from the sixteenth century. She contributed to both Twilight and History and Harry Potter and History and is the editor of The Hobbit and History.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Forces of History and Histories of the Force 1
Janice Liedl

Part I “Only Imperial Stormtroopers Are So Precise” The Wars in Star Wars 7

1 Why Rebels Triumph 9

How “Insignificant” Rebellions Can Change History
William J. Astore

2 “Part of the Rebel Alliance and a Traitor” 41

Women in War and Resistance
Janice Liedl and Nancy R. Reagin

3 Elegant Weapons for Civilized Ages 67

The Jedi and Warrior-Monks throughout History
Terrance MacMullan

4 “A House Divided” 99

The Causes and Costs of Civil War
Paul Horvath and Mark Higbee

Part II “Join Me, and Together We Can Rule the Galaxy as Father and Son” Political Histories in Star Wars 123

5 I, Sidious 125

Historical Dictators and Senator Palpatine’s Rise to Power
Tony Keen

6 Teen Queen 151

Padmé Amidala and the Power of Royal Women
Janice Liedl

7 “There’s Always a Bigger Fish” 177

Power, Politics, and the Rule of the Ruthless
Kevin S. Decker

8 “Fear Is the Path to the Dark Side” 203

Nuclear Weapons and the Death Star
Lori Maguire

Part III “Excuse Me, Sir, but That Artoo Unit Is in Prime Condition, a Real Bargain” Economy and Society in a Galaxy Long, Long Ago 227

9 From Slavery to Freedom in a Galaxy Far, Far Away 229
Paul Finkelman

10 “Greed Can Be a Powerful Ally” 255

The Trade Federation, the East India Companies, and Chaotic Worlds of Trade
Michael Laver

11 Coruscant, the Great Cities of Earth, and Beyond 283
Katrina Gulliver

The Jedi Council 305

Acknowledgments: Making History That Spans Galaxies 308

Notes 310

Illustration Credits 324

Index 327

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2013

    Alots of information

    Some of it was okay but most of it had earth imformation

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012


    Written by history professors, the work is very analytical and I hoghly recommen it for every history buff and Star Wars buff as well. Pardon my grammar, writing frommm my nook device.

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  • Posted December 11, 2012

    Two Fascinating Subjects and One Mixed Result

    Star Wars and History is an interesting departure from the typical literary works in the Star Wars franchise. Rather than being another guide book, or a piece of fiction, this work is a collection of essays illustrating the parallels between history and Star Wars. The book covers a large chunk of history, as wells as a large chunk of the Star Wars franchise. But the real question is whether it’s worth buying?

    The 332 page hardcover book includes eleven essays written primarily by professors and teachers. Those essays cover a diversity of topics including comparisons between the Jedi and samurai, female French resistance operatives and Padmé Amidala, and dictators in the real world and in Star Wars. There are essays that explore how resistance groups and rebellions have worked historically, and how Star Wars has mirrored those aspects. The book also includes a few direct examples that were used by George Lucas. For instance, they reveal that George had the Viet Cong in mind when developing the Ewoks.

    In the end, the book fails to appeal to the Star Wars fan in me, and it also fails to appeal to my history buff side. It points out a lot of interesting parallels between Star Wars and history, but it does not reveal much in the way of direct insights. Nor does it explain how those historical elements influenced George Lucas and the films. The essay format lightly treads upon a lot of historical ground, but never obtains any depth. Fun topics and characters are brought up, but none are explored thoroughly. Instead the book tries to explore both history and Star Wars in a limited fashion and satisfies neither the history lover or the Star Wars fan.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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