self in editing and directing while studying at
USC. He started out making such stand-alone
films as THX-1138 and American Graffiti be-
fore getting caught up in the idea of a grand
space epic, an optimistic fairy tale to counter
the disappointment and depression bogging
down America in the 1970s. But it isn’t just
Lucas’ movies that are visionary; so, too, is his
business acumen. By retaining the licensing
rights for Star Wars, he paved the way for lu-
crative toy deals and maintained creative and
monetary control over the sequels. With Lu-
casfilm, Industrial Light & Magic, and Pixar,
Lucas has created hundreds of jobs, and his
friendships with fellow auteurs Francis Ford
Coppola and Steven Spielberg led to dynamic
collaborations, including the popular Indiana
Jones franchise. Jones digs deep to limn the
highs and lows of Lucas’ career and life, captur-
ing his drive and innovation in crisp, sparkling
prose. Masterful and essential for film and pop
culture enthusiasts. —Kristine Huntley
YA: Jones’ completely engaging Lucas
biography will fascinate aspiring filmmakers
and Star Wars devotees alike.KH.
The History of Rock & Roll: Volume One,
By Ed Ward.
Nov. 2016. 416p. Flatiron, $35 (9781250071170). 781.
Ward’s ambitious opus succeeds in chronicling the first half of the history of rock ’n’
roll. Beginning in 1920, Paramount Records
in Port Washington, Wisconsin, tapping into
the fledgling “race market,” started making
records and found success recording such artists as Ma Rainey and Jelly Roll Morton. The
advent of radio helped spread the gospel of
popular music, broadcasting blues, jazz, and
singing cowboys. Small record labels and
jukeboxes contributed to the dissemination
of popular music, while, late at night, white
radio DJs spun R&B for a mixed audience.
Pretty soon teenagers sought out records by
Big Joe Turner and various vocal and gospel
groups. Then, of course, Elvis changed everything. Ward manages to make a coherent
narrative—not an insignificant feat—out
of this sprawling milieu, sequentially showing how visionaries such as Sam Phillips,
Berry Gordy, Phil Spector, and others created a thriving industry. Throughout, the
black influence is emphasized as gospel musicians went secular, and “race records” went
mainstream. The sagas of Chuck Berry, Ray
Charles, Stax Records, the Brill Building, the
Beatles, and many others are expertly and
entertainingly woven into this encompassing
overview. —Ben Segedin
I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of
Hollywood’s Legendary Actresses.
By Robert J. Wagner and Scott Eyman.
Jan. 2017. 256p. Viking, $27 (9780525429111). 791.43.
Now 86, Wagner, a moderately successful actor from the 1950s into the 2000s, has found
a second career as the author of surprisingly
entertaining memoirs about Hollywood in
the Golden Age. You Must Remember This
In-depth looks at ballet and performance art, the Godfather of Soul and the Chairman of the Board, and a revered impressionist painter and the artists of the American Revolution are among
the best arts books reviewed in Booklist between November 1,
2015, and October 15, 2016. —Donna Seaman
Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the
Rule of the Tsars to Today. By Simon Morrison. 2016. Norton/
Liveright, $35 (9780871402967).
Morrison vibrantly details the dramatic history of Moscow’s globally influential Bolshoi Ballet, from the reigns of czars and czarinas and wars and invasions right up to
Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs. By Robert Kanigel. 2016. Knopf, $35
Kanigel’s zestful biography tells the remarkable story of Jane Jacobs, the independent
and industrious visionary who changed our perception of cities and civilization.
Kill ’Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul. By James
McBride. 2016. Spiegel & Grau, $28 (9780812993509).
National Book Award winner McBride presents a powerfully incisive biography of the
Godfather of Soul, James Brown, covering his complex family tree, phenomenal influence, struggles, and decline.
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. By Olivia Laing. 2016. Picador,
$26 (9781250039590); e-book, $12.99 (9781250039590).
Laing imaginatively entwines memoir with profiles and astute interpretations as she
looks to visual art in an effort to understand the true nature of loneliness.
Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. By Ross King.
2016. Bloomsbury, $30 (9781632860125).
With deep knowledge and mesmerizing skill, King tells the little-known story behind
Monet’s 30-year effort to paint his magnificent Water Lilies at Giverny.
Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution through Painters’ Eyes. By Paul Staiti.
2016. Bloomsbury, $30 (9781632864659); e-book, $19.99 (9781632864673).
Staiti vividly profiles the five artists whose paintings helped inspire the vision of independence and unity that generated the American Revolution and the forging of a new nation.
A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism. By Paul Youngquist. 2016.
Univ. of Texas, $27.95 (9780292726369).
Pianist and composer Herman Poole Blount was always ahead of his time, and
Youngquist finally catches us up in this superb chronicle of Blount’s transformation into
Sun Ra and the elevation of jazz to an Afrocentric cosmic force.
Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll. By Peter Guralnick. 2015. Little,
Brown, $32 (9780316042741).
In his exciting, definitive biography of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, Guralnick considers Phillips’ seminal role in music history and belief that music could help break down
Sinatra: The Chairman. By James Kaplan. 2015. Doubleday, $35 (9780385535397);
The second, concluding volume in Kaplan’s remarkably insightful and eloquent Sinatra
biography reveals the epic complexities of the temperament and life of this iconic singer
and undervalued actor.
Walk through Walls. By Marina Abramovic. 2016. Crown Archetype, $28
Daring, radical, and profound performance artist Abramovic tells the full story of her
extraordinarily adventurous artistic and spiritual quest.
TOP 10 ARTS BOOKS