The best essays in this book make you reflect on Star Wars in new ways, with the writers showing sharp insights into this fictional universe and its implications. To give one example, Jim Golby's essay makes a brief but quite observant point about Luke Skywalker's actions in Return of the Jedi that I had never considered or heard discussed much, in years of Star Wars fandom. There are only some minor hiccups here and there where I thought an author maybe had gotten something slightly wrong about the universe, but I was generally impressed with the level of SW analysis (The Clone Wars animated series is discussed surprisingly often!).
Similar insights are here to be had on military and strategic matters, with the book succeeding in engaging a layman like me in themes such as toxic and over-centralized leadership, the importance of rapid-deploying expeditionary forces, fleet and naval command structure, among others. I would say that, because the book embraces a goal of accessibility for a layperson like myself, the insights on military affairs are shallower than what you will take away in just new ways to think about Star Wars. What I mean is that the Star Wars fan will come away with more learned than the military thinker.
While I had a good time with the collection, some themes are discussed more than once (the civil-military divide mainly). There are also some pieces where I felt the author was sort of spinning their wheels. In particular there are a couple pieces written from an in-universe perspective (with a fictional narrator), and some of them just seemed like cut-and-dry summaries of the Galactic Civil War. A small handful of other inclusions did feel somewhat perfunctory as well, so there is a bit of unevenness to the book. Admittedly, this is a difficult sensation to avoid in an anthology.
I would give a star rating of 3.5 out of 5 if allowed. For many readers looking for thoughts on Star Wars it will be closer to 4 stars. For military strategy professionals hoping for deeper dissections of military strategy, however, I suspect it may be closer to 3 stars.
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