This has always been an interesting discussion to me so I’ll share a few things I’ve found.
This is the prologue from Allan Dean Foster’s novelization of Star Wars:
ANOTHER galaxy, another time.
The Old Republic was the Republic of legend, greater than distance or time. No need to note where it was or whence it came, only to know that… it was the Republic.
Once, under the wise rule of the Senate and the protection of the Jedi Knights, the Republic throve and grew. But as often happens when wealth and power pass beyond the admirable and attain the awesome, there appear those evil ones who have greed to match.
So it was with the Republic at its height. Like the greatest of trees, able to withstand any external attack, the Republic rotted from within though the danger was not visible from outside.
Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and to restore the remembered glory of the Republic.
Once secure in office he declared himself Emperor, shutting himself away from the populace. Soon he was controlled by the very assistants and boot-lickers he had appointed to high office, and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears.
Having exterminated through treachery and deception the Jedi Knights, guardians of justice in the galaxy, the Imperial governors and bureaucrats prepared to institute a reign of terror among the disheartened worlds of the galaxy. Many used the imperial forces and the name of the increasingly isolated Emperor to further their own personal ambitions.
But a small number of systems rebelled at these new outrages. Declaring themselves opposed to the New Order they began the great battle to restore the Old Republic.
From the beginning they were vastly outnumbered by the systems held in thrall by the Emperor. In those first dark days it seemed certain the bright flame of resistance would be extinguished before it could cast the light of new truth across a galaxy of oppressed and beaten peoples…
From the First Saga
Journal of the Whills
Here is an interesting write-up from Thrawn McEwok on the boards at theforce.net
Another Galaxy, Another Time…
The Old Republic was the Republic of legend, greater than distance or time. And for a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the Dark Times - before the Empire.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, General and Jedi Knight, fought in the Clone Wars, serving Bail Organa of Alderaan. Fighting with him, another Jedi, Anakin Skywalker - a cunning warrior, a good friend, and the greatest starfighter pilot in the galaxy.
When he met Anakin, Obi-Wan was amazed at how strongly the Force flowed in him. He thought that he could train him as well as Yoda, the Jedi Master who had instructed him.
Obi-Wan’s brother, Owen Lars knew Anakin, but didn’t hold with his ideals - he thought he should stay on Tatooine, and not get involved in the Clone Wars. Instead, Anakin followed Obi-Wan off on an idealistic crusade, and became a hero. The pilot who would fly as Red Leader at the Battle of Yavin, was awed to meet him when he himself was just a boy.
But Obi-Wan’s pride had terrible consequences for the Galaxy. Anakin fell to the Dark Side. Obi-Wan thought that there was still good in him, but after a lightsaber duel, Anakin fell into molten lava, and became Darth Vader. He hunted down and destroyed the Jedi Knights. President Palpatine took absolute power, and the Republic was replaced by the Galactic Empire.
Obi-Wan took Anakin’s son Luke back to Tatooine, where he was raised by Owen - who told him that his father had been a navigator on a spice freighter. The Jedi became a hermit, keeping his friend’s lightsaber, which Anakin had wanted his son to have when he was old enough.
But there was another Skywalker, who remained safely anonymous: Princess Leia, adopted daughter of Bail Organa, whose real mother died when she was very young.
The clone wars were underway thirty-five years before ANH, and by the last stages of the war, large numbers of clone warriors - grown too quickly by the Clonemasters in Spaarti Cylinders - had gone insane. The Mandalorian Shocktroopers from the planet Mandalore were enemies of the Jedi during the same conflict, and other disturbances around the same time involved Jedi Knights dealing with Dark Jedi at Bpfashh and with the Jensaari at Susevfi.
One issue I had with the idea that Obi-Wan and Owen were brothers was the fact that they clearly do not share the same accent or last name, and trying to explain that would feel like a stretch. Someone mentioned that they thought Anakin came from a more noble class, since James Earl Jones’ depiction of Vader seems to make him speak more flowery than someone who grew up a farmer, but Obi-Wan does say, “He thought [Anakin] should’ve stayed here an not gotten involved.” But if Anakin and Owen were brothers, why do they have different last names? To me, if Anakin was blood-related to anyone Luke knew, it would make some sense if Beru was a Skywalker, Anakin’s sister, who married Owen. Perhaps Owen and Beru were just close friends with Anakin and Obi-Wan met them when he recruited young Anakin.
Also, the Clone Wars were always kept pretty vague. By the way Obi-Wan describes them, they would seem to be more like crusades rather than a civil war as depicted in the prequels. Honestly, I picture something more along the lines of the Mandalorian Wars from KOTOR, and Obi-Wan and Anakin would’ve been similar to Revan and Malak. There may have been multiple clone masters fighting against one another, or the Jedi had to take out different Clone Masters that popped up throughout the galaxy over a period of time. The Mandalorians seem to have been involved in the war to some capacity, but I honestly think the simplest idea would’ve been to make it a war against a Mandalorian clone army. Maybe they also cloned some Jedi to use against real Jedi or, or in their desperation the Republic tried to clone Jedi to help with the war, but those clones went mad and became dark Jedi like Joruus C’boath. Apparently Zahn originally wanted to make him a mad clone of Obi-Wan, which is interesting because an early theory about Star Wars was that Obi-Wan was a clone of “Ben Kenobi” originally called OB-1. Maybe the Republic could’ve had an army of clones as well like in the actual prequels, so it would’ve been Clones vs Clones.
I also think The Secret History of Star Wars has interesting analysis of the potential timeline and ages of Anakin and Obi-Wan during the prequels based off what we knew of them before the prequels.
Some various relevant images:
Early concepts of Jedi seem to be more in-line with Luke’s appearance in Return of the Jedi.