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Book Review: Star Wars Propaganda: A History Of Persuasive Art In The Galaxy
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Star Wars Propaganda review

Star Wars Propaganda
A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy
Hardcover | Kindle Edition
Written by Pablo Hidalgo
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Cover Price: $40.00

At first glance, Star Wars Propaganda looks like exactly what you’d expect it to be — an oversized art book with full-color graphics based on the Star Wars universe. But if you look more carefully, you’ll notice that not only is the artwork unlike what you’d usually see in Star Wars canon, but there’s also a very detailed history behind it all.

This slipcased hardcover book from Harper Design, subtitled A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy, weaves a narrative of little-known Star Wars history that begins with the Republic and moves on to the Clone Wars as seen in the events of the Prequel films, until the Galactic Empire takes over, prompting the Rebellion and the creation of the Alliance we know so well from the original trilogy. The book ends with a section on the New Republic, the First Order, and the Resistance, which were all introduced in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Author Pablo Hidalgo culls together this artwork and history under the guise of Janyor of Bith, who’s a noted painter, poet, and sculptor in the Star Wars universe. Janyor’s introduction describes his start as a propagandist during the original Republic era and during the Clone Wars who bought into Chancellor’s Palpatine’s promise of 1,000 years of peace in the galaxy. He eventually became disillusioned by Palpatine’s new Empire, and was forced into exile after he opposed it and switched sides to help the Alliance and their effort to Restore The Republic. Janyor’s goal became to counteract all the Imperial propaganda with pro-Galactic Civil War messages and imagery, even if it meant combating the opposition’s lies with falsehoods to forward his cause. Although he retired after the New Republic took power, after the First Order obliterated the Hosnian system with their Starkiller Base superweapon (as was seen in The Force Awakens), Janyor returned as propagandist with this book in an effort to show the chain of events that led to this in hopes that people will understand enough to break the cycle.

Both sides of the fight — the Rebellion and the Empire — are represented here using styles famous in Nazi and U.S. world war and government propaganda art. There’s also several pieces that resemble the Internet memes that fill up cyberspace nowadays. For example, one piece shows the Senate building on Coruscant with the words “There are 2000 Senators inside this building – none of them care about you.” In the Star Wars saga, this is a message from the Separates, but just switch the image to the U.S. Capitol Building, and you’ll have a popular internet meme. Other familiar themes are present in posters like “Remember Alderaan – Never Forget” (a callback to the 9/11 attacks); “Report Sedition” that even warns that “If you see something, say something” (a very popular post-9/11 safety message); “Rebels Are Terrorists,” an effort by the Empire to paint the Alliance victory as a terrorist attack; and “Endor Is A Lie,” which promotes the conspiracy theory that Emperor Palpatine actually survived the Battle of Endor.

The artwork — which includes military enlistment and support messages, public service announcements, safety warnings, calls for action, and more — is accompanied by the title, the in-world artist’s name (when known), and background information on the purpose of the propaganda. There’s also an Artists of the Galaxy appendix, which contains Star Wars universe artist credits and bios, and you might recognize some of these names, such as Sabine Wren from the Star Wars Rebels animated television series. So, the book is kept completely in-universe, which means that the actual real-world artists are not credited, which is kind of a bummer (I was hoping they’d be named in a separate appendix that wouldn’t ruin the illusion).

The 112-page book, which contains 50 pieces of color art, has a sleek black cover with the Rebel Alliance symbol in silver on the front, and the Empire symbol in silver on the back. Attached to each inside cover is an envelope housing 5 pieces of art from each side, giving you 10 prints in total that are ready for framing. The 9 x 12-inch book comes in an attractive slipcase, which has one of the poster art pieces on the front (featuring three different Imperial soldiers).

So as you can see, this is more than just a poster book, and if you’re a more hardcore Star Wars fan, then you will definitely want to delve into all this history, and it might even make you see the films in a different light. But, at the heart of it all, Star Wars Propaganda is about the art, which will be compelling to even the casual fan of the franchise.

The cover price of Star Wars Propaganda is $40, but Amazon currently has it for $29.91; it’s also available as a Kindle ebook for $28.99. Check out some of the artwork from the book in the Image Gallery here below.

A Star Wars authority deepens and extends our appreciation of the Star Wars galaxy with this imaginative “history” featuring striking full-color artwork—created exclusively for this entertaining volume—that examines the persuasive messages used to intimidate and inspire the citizenry of the galaxy far, far away….

A Star Destroyer hovering over a planet, symbolizing Imperial domination.

An X-wing delivering a message of resistance and hope on behalf of the Rebellion.

A line of armed, faceless First Order stormtroopers promoting unity.

These are all examples of propaganda used by the Empire to advocate strength and maintain fear, and by the Rebel Alliance to inspire hope and win support for the fight. Star Wars Propaganda takes fans into the beloved epic story as never before, bringing the battle between these two sides to life in a fresh and brilliant way.

Star Wars Propaganda includes fifty dazzling pieces of art representing all seven episodes—including material related to Star Wars: The Force Awakens—specially produced for this companion volume. Each page combines an original image and a short description detailing its “history:” the in-world “artist” who created it (either willingly or through coercion), where in the Star Wars galaxy it appeared, and why that particular location was targeted.

Packaged in a beautifully designed case and written by a franchise expert and insider, Star Wars Propaganda also includes ten removable art prints, and is sure to become a keepsake for every fan and graphic artist as well.

Image Gallery

Star Wars Propaganda

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