How did a few notes scribbled on a legal pad in 1973 by George Lucas, a man who hated writing, turn into a four billion dollar franchise that has quite literally transformed the way we think about entertainment, merchandizing, politics, and even religion? A cultural touchstone and cinematic classic, Star Wars has a cosmic appeal that no other movie franchise has been able to replicate. From Jedi-themed weddings and international storm-trooper legions, to impassioned debates over the digitization of the three Star Wars prequels, to the shockwaves that continue to reverberate from Disney's purchase of the beloved franchise in 2012, the series hasn't stopped inspiring and inciting viewers for almost forty years. Yet surprisingly little is known about its history, its impact-or where it's headed next. In How Star Wars Conquered the Universe Chris Taylor unearths the human-scale stories that have gone into the making of this galactic-sized legend, and describes how and why Star Wars has been such an astonishing success. In a richly detailed narrative, Taylor traces the history of the series from its difficult birth through four drafts, a disastrous first cut, and many sequels and spin-offs. Today, he shows, Star Wars finds itself at a crossroads, with a new company holding the reins and a new trilogy looming on the horizon. Interspersing the story of Star Wars' evolution with in-depth portraits of all the major names behind the films, as well as reportage about the franchise's awesome cultural reach and its immensely lucrative business operations, Taylor shows that Star Wars has become ubiquitous: It is loved as much by children as adults, and as much by women as by men. Its action figures now outnumber human beings. And the films themselves have a reach that extends far beyond their viewership; even most so-called Star Wars "virgins" know that Darth Vader is Luke's father, and can identify an Ewok (remarkable, considering that the creatures are never named in any of the Star Wars films). This incredible fertility of the Star Wars universe, Taylor explains, is reflected in its bottom line; the films' merchandising revenue alone rivals the GDP of a small country. And with the series' fandom only continuing to grow (despite the general consensus that the recent trilogy was an artistic failure), chances are good that Star Wars will still be galvanizing our imaginations-and minting money-for generations to come.