With the exceptions of movie blooper reels and the occasional "making of" documentary, I don't usually seek out behind-the-scenes knowledge of books or movies. Nine times out of ten, I don't want to know, don't want the magic spoiled. I made an exception for this book because it was recommended by more than one trusted source, and I did kind of want to know how Star Wars went from my childhood friends not knowing who those people were on my family's plastic Star Wars sectioned plates (I wonder what those plates would be worth now if Mom hadn't let us eat from them until the characters faded off?) to me not knowing anyone who doesn't at least know about the existence of Star Wars.
The short answer seems to be massive amounts of pure dumb luck mixed with massive amounts of genius, business savvy, and hard work. When Episode IV was first released in Theaters, Lucas said it was only about 25% the way he wanted it. Due to budgetary and technological constraints, 75% of his vision didn't make it to the big screen. The prequel films match his vision more closely, but they weren't well-received by many life-long fans. Would so many of us have fallen in love with the whole Star Wars universe if it had been like Phantom Menace from the beginning?
The long answer is covered as comprehensively as Chris Taylor could manage in 414 entertaining, informative pages, including an insightful and rather helpful chapter entitled "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Prequels" which contains such (serious) advice as to watch the prequels with the sound off and John Williams's soundtrack playing in the background.
This book is so full of interesting factoids that I had to refrain from posting progress updates lest I end up quoting the whole thing and getting slapped with a copyright infringement suit. For instance, did you know that in early drafts of Episode IV the Dark Side of the Force was called the Bogan Force? Quote from an early draft:
"The Bogan arts often run contrary to the ways of science and logic."
Only Australians or those familiar with Aussie slang will appreciate how hilarious this is. But it gets even funnier. Lucas penned this dialogue about a decade before "bogan" rose to popular use in Australia. Truly, a man ahead of his time.
To sum up, I'm glad I read this. It gave me a better understanding of George Lucas and his films, and a four or five page list of books, movies, film serials, TV shows, etc. to investigate. All in all, this book was time and money well spent.
For my fellow pedants, there's more than the forgivable number of typos (including the particularly unforgivable "Wilhelm screen") and early on there's some seemingly random chapter organization that chops up the flow and makes it feel disjointed (I'm looking at you, Chapters 3 and 5).