Certainly odd but also smart and interesting. For any student who wants to write a term paper on Star Wars, this book could...


An exploration of how Star Wars “illuminates childhood, the complicated relationship between good and evil, rebellions, political change, and constitutional law.”

Sunstein (Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas2014, etc.) is a Harvard law professor and has served as an adviser to President Barack Obama; he is also a Star Wars fanatic. The author offers close readings of the movies, script decisions, their novelizations, and the fan fiction inspired by them, and he inflates it all to mythmaking worthy of Joseph Campbell’s scrutiny. “In all of human history, there’s never been a phenomenon like Star Wars,” writes Sunstein. “Fueled by social media, the whole series has a cult-like following, except that the cult is so large that it transcends the term. It’s humanity, just about.” Even for those few who lie outside that “just about,” this analysis engages with its broader themes about fathers and sons, timeliness and timelessness, destiny and free will, tradition and rebellion, God(s) and mankind. Though the author shows some academic rigor he largely avoids scholarly jargon except for the occasional “Let’s try to unpack it.” Sunstein is plainly writing for those who are equally invested in Star Wars and who want to learn more about how the franchise came about, why no one envisioned the scope and scale of its success, why it spoke specifically to its times and has continued to resonate, and how it encompasses spiritual, political, and psychological dimensions. What began as something of a homage to Flash Gordon has become, in the author’s eyes, a text through which we can decode all the issues of the modern world. “Here are thirteen ways of looking at Star Wars,” he writes. “Most of them have plausible sources in the movies. A few of them are nuts but still smart—which makes them especially interesting.”

Certainly odd but also smart and interesting. For any student who wants to write a term paper on Star Wars, this book could serve as a rich resource.

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-248422-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

Did you like this book?

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?