1st Edition

The History and Politics of Star Wars Death Stars and Democracy

By Chris Kempshall Copyright 2023
    252 Pages
    by Routledge

    252 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book provides the first detailed and comprehensive examination of all the materials making up the Star Wars franchise relating to the portrayal and representation of real-world history and politics.

    Drawing on a variety of sources, including films, published interviews with directors and actors, novels, comics, and computer games, this volume explores the ways in which historical and contemporary events have been repurposed within Star Wars. It focuses on key themes such as fascism and the Galactic Empire, the failures of democracy, the portrayal of warfare, the morality of the Jedi, and the representations of sex, gender, and race. Through these themes, this study highlights the impacts of the fall of the Soviet Union, the War on Terror, and the failures of the United Nations upon the ‘galaxy far, far away’. By analysing and understanding these events and their portrayal within Star Wars, it shows how the most popular media franchise in existence aims to speak about wider contemporary events and issues.

    The History and Politics of Star Wars is useful for upper-level undergraduates, postgraduates, and scholars of a variety of disciplines such as transmedia studies, science fiction, cultural studies, and world history and politics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

    Introduction: A long time ago…?, 1. ‘For a safe and secure society’: Totalitarianism, imperialism, and the Emperor, 2. ‘How liberty dies’: Republics, democracy, and the fall of civilisation, 3. ‘Built on hope…’: Rebellion, resistance, and the depiction of warfare, 4. ‘Keepers of the peace, not soldiers’: Jedi, the Force, and the complicated morality of intra-state operatives, 5. ‘We don’t want them here’: Aliens, androids, and far outsiders, Conclusion: Always in motion the future is…


    Chris Kempshall is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Exeter and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Army Leadership, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He is a historian of the First World War as well as popular representations of history in modern media. He has authored numerous academic works, including The First World War in Computer Games (2015) and British, French and American Relations on the Western Front, 1914–1918 (2018).

    'Kempshall’s book opens the door for many others to analyze specific points in our world’s history and how they connect to Star Wars, its creators, and its stories. It is a vast, brilliant overview of many decades of events, and is possibly the most comprehensive account of the specific connections between fact and fiction when it comes to Star Wars, and belongs on every bookshelf." - Dork Side of the Force

    ""The History and Politics of Star Wars" is an utterly comprehensive and thoroughly enjoyable work of scholarship, accessible to any Star Wars fan with even a passing interest in the franchise's social, cultural, and moral underpinnings." - Star Wars 7x7

    "The History and Politics of Star Wars is an eloquently written title on the franchise, the Expanded Universe and the huge impact Lucas’s vision still has on audiences worldwide. Apart from the probably thousands hours of research, one can easily guess that this is the work a serious fan, a historian and a critic. Recommend reading for Star Wars fans, students of sociology, international relations and film studies." - Dr. A. E Ebert, PopCultureShelf.com

    "It’s really impossible to review this book in a way that does it justice because of the nature of the work. Partly an encyclopaedia of the politics of the Star Wars universe and partly an accessible discussion of the intersection between military history and a pop culture phenomenon, there’s so much here to love that Kempshall’s book is an easy recommendation for any ‘Star Wars’ fan." - Neale Monks, SFCrowsnest

    "No matter what stories Star Wars tells next, Kempshall’s book will be an important starting point for years to come for future research into the historical influences and political themes of the franchise.' - Dominic J. Nardi, University of Michigan, Science Fiction Research Association Review