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Thoughtful, Enthusiastic Review for The Jericho River

February 2, 2016

The Jericho River continues to receive unusually thoughtful reviews. Click here for a new one from CJ Leger.

And here are some highlights:

  • The creation of strange creatures and mythical environments is extremely creative and portrays a talented David Tollen with an imagination worthy of the silver screen. The book is also fast-paced and action-packed from start to finish
  • …a must read for history buffs everywhere who will receive great joy in coming across contextual adventures they’ll surely be familiar with.  

The book is The Jericho River, A Novel About the History of Western Civilization

Star Wars and History: Samurai and Nazis

January 26, 2016

~ This is the last of a six-post series called Star Wars and History. ~

Samurai_on_SS_Kamakura_Maru_menu -- cropped

Samurai with faceplate

Star Wars draws on history for its look and feel as much as for its plot choices. In particular, the samurai of Medieval and early modern Japan contribute their style both to good guys and bad buys. Darth Vader’s armor looks like a night black, plastic version of samurai armor, and the Jedi’s robes have medieval Japanese feel too. Read more…

Star Wars and History: Divine Conception in Myth

January 23, 2016

~ This is the fifth of a six-post series called Star Wars and History. (See below for a list of the six titles.) ~

Alexandre_Jacques_Chantron_(1891)_Danae

Perseus’ mother, Danae, and the golden rain

In The Phantom Menace, we learn that the Force conceived Anakin Skywalker in his mother’s womb, without a father. That divine conception puts him in company with the Buddha, according to some stories, and of course with Jesus Christ, along with a long list of pagan heroes. For instance, in The Secret History of the Mongols, a radiant being descends through the roof of a lady’s yurt and fathers Bodonchar Munkhag, founder of Genghis Khan’s dynasty. And in Greco-Roman myth, Zeus conceives the hero-king Perseus by descending on a virgin as golden rain — while Mars conceives Rome’s Romulus and Remus when his phallus emerges from a sacred fire tended by a virgin priestess. Read more…

Star Wars and History: Father vs. Son in Myth

January 22, 2016

~ This is the fourth of a six-post series called Star Wars and History. (See below for the six posts’ titles.) ~

Mordred -- cropped

Mordred and King Arthur

In The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker fights his father, Darth Vader. Revenge of the Sith repeats this father vs. son theme when Darth Sidious (Palpatine) reveals that Sith apprentices often kill their masters: their figurative fathers. That aligns Star Wars with a common theme from myth. Many mythic heroes confront and kill their fathers. Mordred, for instance, kills his father, King Arthur (and is killed by him). And of course, the Greeks’ Oedipus kills his father and takes his place as king of Thebes. Gods battle their fathers too, including the titan Cronus, who overthrows — and castrates — his father, Ouranos, the sky god. But a similar fate awaits Cronus; he’s later overthrown by Zeus, his own son. Read more…

Star Wars and History: Joseph Campbell and the Urban Myth with a Thousand Faces

January 19, 2016

~ This is the third of a six-post series called Star Wars and History. (See below for the six posts’ titles.) ~

Hercules_&_the_old_man_of_the_sea_(Walter_Crane,_1910)

Hercules, mythic hero par excellence

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, mythologist Joseph Campbell argues that the same basic stories and themes appear in all the world’s myths. It’s widely believed that George Lucas built Star Wars around these “monomyth” elements from Campbell. For instance, Campbell says the hero in any myth at first refuses “the call to adventure” but then relents — just as Luke Skywalker refuses Obi-Wan’s invitation to Alderaan but later agrees to join the quest (after finding his aunt and uncle slaughtered). Campbell’s hero also finds a wise mentor — Obi-Wan or Yoda, for Luke — as well as an animal familiar — presumably R2D2. And the myth hero confronts a father figure and must reach atonement with him. Luke, of course, fights Darth Vader, his father, but they reconcile as Vader lies dying, in Return of the Jedi. Read more…

Star Wars and History: Fall of the Knights Templar

January 18, 2016

~ This is the second of a six-post series called Star Wars and History. (See below for the six posts’ titles.) ~

The Knights Templar

Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon — a.k.a. Templars

In Revenge of the Sith, the Chancellor/Emperor orders the sudden liquidation of the Jedi Order, including an assault on the Jedi Temple. The story models the fall of medieval Europe’s Knights Templar. The Templars were a religious order whose key members were both knights and monks (kind of like the Jedi). They fought in the Crusades and were among Christendom’s most feared warriors. They also became wealthy as pioneers in banking. Read more…

Star Wars and History: Roman Republic and Empire

January 17, 2016

~ This is the first of a six-post series called Star Wars and History. (See below for the six posts’ titles.) ~

Octavian, known as Caesar and Augustus, Rome's first emperor

Caesar Augustus

In Revenge of the Sith, the evil Palpatine transforms the Galactic Republic from the top, creating the Empire — without overthrowing the state. Palpatine is already Chancellor of the Republic, though he’s held office longer than normal, thanks to a civil war. He simply switches his title to Emperor. He also centralizes power in his own hands, at the expense of the elected Senate, but he leaves the Senate in place, along with the rest of the republican government. Read more…

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