The Essential STAR WARS in 5 1/2 Books

Star Wars Identities The Exhibition- Darth Vader/space crafts poster

The Star Wars canon is inhabited by zillions of books.

This is a selection of a few books which, in my opinion, comprehend very well the soul of the main Star Wars films. This is not about those fiction books that keep expanding its universe, it’s mostly about the actual making of the original saga.

3 or 9 movies?

From my point of view, the whole thing is really about 3 movies, and the rest was built, with more or less skill, around them: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

This is my selection of books (sure each fan must have his or hers) and I will do as if you only had room in your shelves for 5 1/2 more books. Let’s go from small to huge, and then the 1/2.

Book 1: The Basic Guide to the Saga.

If you only had to read one book about the Star Wars saga, I would recommend this one.

This book used to be known as “A Brief Guide to Star Wars” and used the subtitle “The Unauthorized Inside Story”. Now it’s not so brief, and maybe not as much “unauthorised”, or maybe the “unauthorized” word does not attract readers anymore. Whatever. The updated version reaches until The Force Awakens and Rogue One.

Brian J. Robb is brilliant at summarising the story in a very entertaining way (he’s pulled the same job for the Star Trek films and -most- series in A Brief Guide to Star Trek, now updated under the title Star Trek: 50 Years on the Final Frontier).

Star Wars posters created by Olly Moss
Star Wars new artwork created by Olly Moss

Book 2: The Preciously Detailed Work.

As Amazon states on its page,

This volume contains all three full-length “Star Wars” screenplays, presented with the secrets that led to their creation. Through interviews with such people as George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan, the author uncovers the complex process through which the “Star Wars” saga came to the screen.

The author is the very distinguished Laurent Bouzereau, who has been behind lots of books and documentaries about filmmaking, a few of them for Steven Spielberg himself.

The amount of detail about the creation of the scripts is astounding. Specially created for fans that want to become real connoisseurs.

Great Star Wars “Rorschach Test” posters designed for Star Wars Identities The Exhibition.

The “Darth Vader / Space Ships” poster at the top of this post and the “Stromtrooper / Stormtroopers” at the very bottom were designed for that exhibition too. Amazing job indeed.

Books 3, 4 and 5: The Encyclopedic Official “Making Of” Oeuvres.

My general impression is that most bulky “Making Of” books make at first a good impression and look attractive, but then many are not very good. But these three are excellent.

All three books are written by J.W.Rinzler, a very experienced “Making Of” books expert.

Maybe its price stopped you so far from acquiring them -About 100 dollars each. The good news now for you is: If you are into e-books, you can download them now only for about 10 dollars as multiplatform books, so as to say, e-book editions which include sound recordings (interviews mostly) and videos too. So the e-book experience improves the physical experience of the book. For a much lesser price. Really worthwhile.

The 1/2 Book: The Unusual Point of View.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

I’m afraid that the 1/2 a book is not really 1/2, is much less. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is a fascinating work about films of the 70s in the US, which devotes a significant part of its pages to the making of Star Wars. We analysed the book in our post Best “Making Of” Books Ever: EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS.

Easy Riders… is about the New Hollywood movement, a film trend that started around 1967 and was killed for good as the eighties began. Star Wars was a big part of it (1977), a game-changer, really. Hollywood moved from the artistry films of the 70s to the blockbuster era with Jaws and Star Wars.

It’s a special work in the sense that Peter Biskind is not shy to tell about drugs and sex and the dark side of filmmaking.

To make it up to you for giving you less than a 1/2 book (plus taking into account that, if you followed my advice, the official “Making Of” Books -as e-books- will take no room on your shelf), let me add one extra work for you:

At last an unofficial “Making Of” Star Wars book! Empire Building: The Remarkable Real Life Story of Star Wars by Garry Jenkins is a very enjoyable piece of Star Wars history. As far as I know, the latest revised and updated edition is from 1999, so it just mentions one of the prequels, but the value of the book is about the making of the first 3 movies in a very unofficial style. Great fun.

Hey, guys! Do not miss the 3 Post Scriptum below! Top stuff in them! 3 great Star Wars-related videos!

Post Scriptum 1: The 1977 Star Wars Documentary, as told by C3PO and R2D2.

A real jewel of Star Wars archaeology: an original end of 70s doc, with 3PO and R2 as hosts. Invaluable!

Post Scriptum 2: “George Lucas in Love”.

The great short film George Lucas in Love is still the most amusing, clever and deeply felt homage to the first trilogy. Here you have it!

Post Scriptum 3: Last but not least, the infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special”.

According to starwars.fandom.com:

Well, I know that George Lucas doesn’t like it at all—when I was working on The Illustrated Star Wars Universe, he told me that he would be happy if every copy could be tracked down and burned…“―Kevin J. Anderson.

The Star Wars Holiday Special is a 1978 made-for-TV-movie based on a story by George Lucas. The main storyline of the film transpires on the Wookiee home planet of KashyyykChewbacca and Han Solo visit the planet to celebrate the Wookiee holiday Life Day with his family, which includes his wife Malla, his son Lumpy, and his father Itchy. As Chewbacca and Han are known rebel agents, they are pursued by the Galactic Empire, who in the process invade Chewbacca’s household. The plot is strung together by a series of musical numbers, celebrity appearances, and other variety-show acts, including songs and comedy routines by such 1970s celebrities as Jefferson StarshipDiahann CarrollArt CarneyHarvey Korman, and Bea Arthur.

It’s 87-minutes long. SERIOUS WARNING: Do not watch it in one go, it could change you forever, in very dark ways.

Star Wars Identities Exhibition Poster - Stormtrooper / Stormtroopers version