The Secret History of Star Wars qualifies as a truely groundbreaking study of the Star Wars franchise as a storytelling process in history. The author (Michael Kaminski) has examined a vast, vast sum of archival, obscure and well known sources, read through every single screenplay draft and little personal note Lucas made, and arrived with this exhaustive survey of how little Georgie Lucas stumbled into the film history in the late 1960s and eventually decided to make an adaptation of Flash Gordon--and how that eventually turned into 1977's Star Wars, and how the story of that film was expanded, twisted upside down, and eventually given back to us thirty years and six films later as the six-episode Star Wars Saga of our present times.
As far as I know, this is the first work to not only treat the franchise seriously from the standpoint of scholastic analysis and independent historical overview, but it also might be the first work to consider the films as both the six-episode "Saga" that was only recently completed as well as the various intermidiaries as it went through the process of transforming from Star Wars, The Movie to The Star Wars Trilogy. The book is absolutely loaded with info, much of it I hadn't known (and I consider myself well read on the series and its history). Most impressive is its challenge of the many "myths" surrounding the series--it seems everything about this franchise gets written by Lucasfilm itself and just repeats about how Star Wars was the "little engine that could" and that Lucas had brilliantly schemed up the entire plot to the series in the 1970s. The truth is much more complicated--and interesting! Particularly illuminating is the shocking yet undeniable evidence that Darth Vader wasn't even written to be Luke's father until AFTER the first film was released, and there is lots of interesting info on the Sequel Trilogy that Lucas now swears never existed. The author also gives the prequels equal treatment as Lucas took his brilliant original trilogy and slowly re-made it into a (not quite as successful) Tragedy of Darth Vader storyline. The book also subtly tells the story of Lucas' life in parallel to his films, a story that is equally entertaining.
Quite simply, this is a well-researched piece of work, though its quite thick at about 600 pages, and written somewhat dryly. My only complaint, and one that almost made me give it 4 stars, is that there are a number of spelling and punctuation mistakes throughout, at least a dozen of them (!), and also a few awkward paragraphs--what happened, mr. editor??! Its a minor complaint in the scheme of things, but I couldn't help notice them.
All in all, however, I would highly recommend this book to Star Wars geeks and film scholars interested in turning over stones on a piece of film history that no one has ever honestly, accurately and compellingly covered as The Secret History of Star Wars does.