Masterful and engaging: just what Lucas’ fans and buffs, who love the nitty-gritty of filmmaking, have been waiting for.

A sweeping, perceptive biography of the influential director.

Jones (Jim Henson: The Biography, 2013, etc.) sets the stage for this impressive biography with a short prologue set in 1976. Lucas was in the Tunisian desert starting his 84-day shoot of Star Wars. The weather was terrible, and sand got into everything. The machines, including R2-D2, wouldn’t work, and the studio was stingy with funds (at that point, Lucas pledged to always control the money). About a year before the release date, Lucas was “certain” the movie “was going to be terrible.” Jones’ extensively researched, unauthorized biography—he wasn’t able to interview key people, including Lucas—lays out in luscious detail the path Lucas took to become one of film’s most successful directors. Born in Modesto, California, in 1944, he grew up in the 1950s and loved comic books, TV serials, and building things. A mediocre, bored student in high school, he managed to get into the University of Southern California. When he discovered their film school, he “fell madly in love with [film], ate it and slept with it 24 hours a day.” He also met Francis Ford Coppola, who helped him get his student film, THX 1138, made into a movie. He also helped him make the popular American Graffiti, which provided Lucas with much-needed money. He could now focus on his “Flash Gordon thing,” Star Wars. Jones wisely eschews unnecessary plot summaries to focus on where the ideas for Lucas’ films came from and how he wrote them and how he dealt with studios and contract negotiations, funding, casting, filming, and marketing. This in-depth portrait of the “modest and audacious” Lucas, a “brilliant” and “enigmatic” technological wizard, and those who were crucial to his success—his editor wife, Marcia, Stephen Spielberg, Haskell Wexler, Garry Kurtz, John Milius, John Dykstra, Harrison Ford—is never less than fascinating.

Masterful and engaging: just what Lucas’ fans and buffs, who love the nitty-gritty of filmmaking, have been waiting for.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-25744-2

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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