How Star Wars Conquered the Universe

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise by Chris Taylor

PN 1995.9 .S695 T39 2014

“In 1973, a young filmmaker named George Lucas scribbled some notes for a far-fetched space-fantasy epic. More than forty years and $37 billion later, Star Wars-related products outnumber human beings, a stormtrooper army spans the globe, and “Jediism” has become a religion in its own right. Lucas’s creation has grown into far more than a cinematic classic; it is, quite simply, one of the most lucrative, influential, and interactive franchises of all time. Yet until now the complete history of Star Wars – its influences and impact, the controversies it has spawned, its financial growth and long-term prospects – has never been told.

In How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, veteran journalist Chris Taylor traces the series from the difficult birth of the original film through its sequels, the franchise’s death and rebirth, the prequels, and the preparations for a new trilogy. Taylor provides portraits of the friends, writers, artists, producers, and marketers who labored behind the scenes to turn Lucas’s idea into a legend. He also jousts with modern-day Jedi, tinkers with droid builders, and gets inside Boba Fett’s helmet, all to find out how Star Wars has attracted and inspired so many fans for so long.

Since the first film’s release in 1977, Taylor shows, Star Wars has conquered our culture with a sense of lightness and exuberance, while remaining serious enough to influence politics around the world and spread a spirituality that appeals to religious groups and atheists alike. Controversial digital upgrades and critically savaged prequels have actually made the franchise stronger than ever. Now, with a new set of savvy bosses holding the reins and Episode VII on the horizon, it looks like Star Wars is just getting started.

An energetic, fast-moving account of this creative and commercial phenomenon, How Star Wars Conquered the Universe explains how a filmmaker’s fragile dream beat out a surprising number of rivals and gained a diehard, multigenerational fan base – and why it will be galvanizing our imaginations and minting money for generations to come.”
– publisher description

Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left

Speed Limits

Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left by Mark C. Taylor

CB 478 .T39 2014

“We live in an ever-accelerating world: faster computers, markets, food, fashion, product cycles, minds, bodies, kids, lives. When did everything start moving so fast? Why does speed seem so inevitable? Is faster always better?

Drawing together developments in religion, philosophy, art, technology, fashion, and finance, Mark C. Taylor presents an original and rich account of a great paradox of our times: how the very forces and technologies that were supposed to free us by saving time and labor now trap us in a race we can never win. The faster we go, the less time we have, and the more we try to catch up, the farther behind we fall. Connecting our speed obsession with today’s global capitalism, he composes a grand narrative showing how commitments to economic growth and extreme competition, combined with accelerating technological innovation, have brought us close to disaster. Psychologically, environmentally, economically, and culturally, speed is taking a profound toll on our lives.

By showing how the phenomenon of speed has emerged, Taylor offers us a chance to see our pace of life as the product of specific ideas, practices and policies. It’s not inevitable or irreversible. He courageously and movingly invites us to imagine how we might patiently work toward a more deliberative life and sustainable world.”
– publisher description

Behind the Gates of Gomorrah: A Year with the Criminally Insane

Behind the Gates of Gomorrah

Behind the Gates of Gomorrah: A Year with the Criminally Insane by Stephen Seager

RC 438.6 .S43 A3 2014

“Behind a twenty-foot-tall chain-link fence topped with coiled razor wire, there is a verdant lawn populated by shimmering, ornery peacocks and some of the world’s most dangerous and violent criminals. Napa State Hospital is one of the largest forensic mental hospitals in the country, where each one of the 1,200 patients is criminally ill. They are the mass murderers, the sexual predators, and the school shooters – they are Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.

Behind the Gates of Gomorrah is an unprecedented, eye-opening look inside a facility to which few will ever have access. In his rookie year, psychiatrist Stephen Seager quickly discovers that in order to help his sadistic patients, he must first learn the ropes to survive. In the entirely unguarded facility, he faces the likes of meth addict Bill, who nearly kills a fellow resident on Seager’s first day; Michael, who blew up an elementary school and speaks only in the voice of an NPR announcer; Miguel, the child-rapist and murderer who wears a paper raccoon mask; and Alex, who beat a psychiatrist into a coma with a broken sprinkler pipe. Every day, Seager bears witness to their life-threatening madness. But he also sees the heroic nurses and doctors who subject themselves to the remarkable violence of their volatile patients because, as one veteran nurse asks, “Who else would care for them?”

To cross the fence of Napa State is to enter a looking-glass world peopled by figures from our nightmares – where lone therapists lead sharing circles with sociopaths, where an illicit underground economy flourishes, and where patients and physicians measure their lives by how fast they can run. Seager blends memoir with narrative science – honest, rueful, and at times darkly funny – as he explores the justice and mental health systems. He explains both the aberrant mind and his own at-times-incomprehensible determination to remain in a job with a perilously steep learning curve.”
– publisher description

The News Sorority

The News Sorority

The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour – and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller

PN 4872 .W42 2014

“For decades, women battered the walls of the male fortress of television journalism. After fierce struggles, three women – Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour – broke into the newsroom’s once impenetrable “boys’ club.” These extraordinary women were not simply pathbreakers, but wildly gifted journalists whose unique talents – courage and empathy, competitive drive and strategic poise – enabled them to climb to the top of the corporate ladder and transform the way Americans received their news.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with their colleagues and intimates from childhood on, The News Sorority crafts a lively and exhilarating narrative that reveals the hard struggles and inner strengths that shaped these women and powered their success. Life outside the newsroom – love, loss, child rearing – would mark them all, complicating their lives even as it deepened their convictions and instincts. Life inside the newsroom would include many nervy decisions and back room power plays previously uncaptured in any media account. Taken together, Sawyer’s, Couric’s, and Amanpour’s lives as women are here revealed not as impediments but as keys to their success.

Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Diane Sawyer was a young woman steering her own unique political course in a time of societal upheaval. Her fierce intellect, almost insuperable work ethic, and sophisticated emotional intelligence would catapult Sawyer from being the first female on-air correspondent for 60 Minutes, to early on interviewing the likes of Boris Yeltsin and Michael Jackson, to presenting heartbreaking specials on child poverty in America while anchoring the network flagship ABC World News. From her first breaks as a reporter all the way through her departure in 2014, Sawyer’s charisma and drive would carry her through countless personal and professional changes.

Katie Couric, always conveniently underestimated because of her “girl-next-door” demeanor, brazened her way through a succession of regional TV news jobs until she finally hit it big. In 1991, Couric became the tremendously popular cohost of Today, where, over the next fifteen years, she transformed the “female” slot from secondary to preeminent while shouldering devastating personal loss and launching an audacious and lifesaving public health campaign. Couric’s greatest triumph – and most bedeviling challenge – was inheriting the mantle of Walter Cronkite at CBS Evening News, as the first woman to solo-anchor a prestigious nighttime network news program. Through it all, her contradictions – she’s wry and sarcastic yet sensitive; seriously feminist while proudly sorority-girlish – made her beyond easy typecasting, and as original as she is relatable.

A glamorous, unorthodox cosmopolite – the daughter of a British Catholic mother and an Iranian Muslim father, raised in pre-revolution Iran amid royalty and educated in England – Christiane Amanpour was an elite, wily, charismatic convent-school girl who would never have been picked out of a lineup as a future war reporter, until her character flourished on catastrophic soil: her family’s exile during the Iranian Revolution. Once she knew her calling, Amanpour shrewdly made a virtue of her outsider status, joining the fledgling CNN on the bottom rung and then becoming its “face,” catalyzing it rise to global prominence. Amanpour’s fearlessness in war zones, and before presidents and despots, would maker the world’s witness to some of its most acute crises and television’s chief advocate for international justice.

Revealing the tremendous combination of ambition, empathy, and skill that empowered Sawyer, Couric, and Amanpour to reach stardom, The News Sorority is at once a detailed story of three very particular lives and a testament to the extraordinary character of women everywhere.”
– publisher description

Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present

Comics A Global History

Comics: A Global History, 1968 to the Present by Dan Mazur & Alexander Danner

PN 6710 .M39 2014

“Chronicling the last five decades of comics around the world – with around 290 illustrations drawn from comic books, manga, bandes dessinéesfumetti and historietas – Dan Mazur and Alexander Danner’s Comics is groundbreaking in both its scope and level of detail. R. Crumb and Lynda Barry, Jack Kirby and Alan Moore, Moebius and Alberto Breccia, Yumiko Ōshima and Osamu Tezuka – these are just a few of the hundreds of artists and writers who make Comics an essential new history, unprecedented in its global reach.”
– publisher description

Mystic Chemist

Mystic Chemist

Mystic Chemist: The Life of Albert Hofmann and His Discovery of LSD
by Dieter Hagenbach and Lucius Werthmüller

BF 209 .L9 H3413 2013

“Only a few discoveries of the 20th century have had such crucial and meaningful influences on science, society and culture as LSD. This mysterious and extremely potent substance causes profound changes of consciousness in doses of millionths of a gram.

Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann first experienced its remarkable effects during a self-experiment with Lysergic Acid Diethylamide in 1943 at Sandox Laboratory in Basel. It changed his life deeply, as it also has the lives of millions of people all around the world. His bicycle ride during his first LSD trip became legendary.

Authors Hagenbach and Werthmüller, close friends of Hofmann, take us on a journey through the 20th century from his mystical childhood experiences with nature, to his chemistry studies with Nobel Prize winner Paul Karrer in Zurich, through his discoveries of both LSD and psilocybin at Sandoz in Basel, to his adventurous expeditions, to his many years of retirement devoted to philosophy of nature and a rich social life. The authors reveal the eventful history of LSD, which became the subject of numerous clinical studies opening the way for innovative forms of therapy. It fueled the youth movement of the sixties, influenced developments in computer technology and science, and helped spawn a new science of consciousness. Albert Hofmann was voted “greatest living genius” in 2007 by the Daily Telegraph. He lived an active life until the age of 102.”
– publisher description

Champagne Supernovas

Champagne Supernovas

Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the ’90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion by Maureen Callahan

TT 505 .A1 C35 2014

“At the dawn of the ’90s, three figures were about to change the face of fashion – and culture – forever.

Marc Jacobs was a gorgeous, cool-kid prodigy who had a gift for design and a flair for self-promotion – but his brashness and untamed lifestyle threatened his talent and his entire empire.

Alexander McQueen was a brilliant hellion whose dark obsessions typified the cultural moment and electrified the fashion world – until those same demons became too much for him to handle.

And Kate Moss was an ordinary teenager whose waifish looks came to redefine beauty in the new decade – but who increasingly relied on sex, drugs, and alcohol to feel comfortable in her own skin.

Each had an amazing talent, and each had a dark side that nearly destroyed them. Collectively, they came to represent a moment in fashion and pop culture that upended everything that had come before it – and changed everything that followed. This trio emerged at the exact moment when supermodel glamazons gave way to heroin chic and when hair-metal gave way to grunge. Kate, Marc, and McQueen were three of the central figures who would define the era, but their lasting importance would only become clear in the years that followed. A revolution took place, and no one noticed. Until now.

Just as movies were the driving cultural force in the 1970s, and art was that force in the 1980s, in the 1990s it was fashion that became the prism through which popular culture was refracted. These three iconoclasts, along with others who entered their orbit, collided to create a visionary brew of art, decadence, and genius that would represent not only a sea change in fashion, but also a larger shift in style, commerce, and culture. This was the decade when the alternative became the mainstream – and the mainstream became a multibillion-dollar business.

Through more than one hundred original, in-depth interviews, Maureen Callahan explores this pivotal period through the lives of three people who would become both icons and cautionary tales of the era. Champagne Supernovas is the story of that singular time, as exemplified by the lives of a group of lost souls and wayward geniuses who forever changed the look of the world around us.”
– publisher description