Cover of Robin
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By: Dave Itzkoff

Publisher: Macmillan Trade

Imprint: Henry Holt & Co.

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9781627794244

Other Formats:

Electronic | Audio

On Sale: | Pages: 544

  • About the Book
  • Reviews
From New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff, comes the definitive audiobook biography of Robin Williams - a compelling portrait of one of America's most beloved and misunderstood entertainers.From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his breakout role in Mork & Mindy and his Academy Award-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams was a singularly innovative and beloved entertainer. He often came across as a man possessed, holding forth on culture and politics while mixing in personal revelations - all with mercurial, tongue-twisting intensity as he inhabited and shed one character after another with lightning speed. But as Dave Itzkoff shows in this revelatory biography, Williams's comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt, which he drew upon in his comedy and in celebrated films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Fisher King; Aladdin; and Mrs. Doubtfire, where he showcased his limitless gift for improvisation to bring to life a wide range of characters. And in Good Will Hunting he gave an intense and controlled performance that revealed the true range of his talent.Itzkoff also shows how Williams struggled mightily with addiction and depression - topics he discussed openly while performing and during interviews - and with a debilitating condition at the end of his life that affected him in ways his fans never knew. Drawing on more than a hundred original interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, as well as extensive archival research, Robin is a fresh and original look at a man whose work touched so many lives.
There is but one real problem with Dave Itzkoff's Robin, a well-researched and solidly written biography. That problem is: We know the ending, and it still hurts.... Robin is a three-dimensional portrait, and Itzkoff balances the mirth with the unpleasant realities.... The mix of frailty, flaws and brilliance captured in Robin might best be described as...human. Williams' actions can be puzzling or maddening, but, like Dawber, you still want to be around him. Maybe give him a hug.
—Dallas Morning News
Though “Robin,” at upwards of 500 pages, is exhaustively reported and doesn't shy away from the abundant messiness in Williams's personal life, it never crosses the threshold from critical assessment into bonkers character assassination...nor does it marinate in sordidness... I would have appreciated some more authorial imposition, some attempts by Itzkoff to collate what he has learned and what he thinks into some psychological insights into Williams's character.... “Robin” is as definitive an account as we're ever likely to have of the man, but, like the shape-shifting genie he voiced in Disney's “Aladdin,” Williams was not entirely of this earth, and a part of him will always elude capture.
—New York Times
ROBIN is comprised of information from over 100 interviews from industry insiders, fellow comedians and his family. It embraces the hopefulness and joy of his comedic style. Nothing can contain the vigor of his aura, or the dynamism of who he was, but Itzkoff's biography does well in replicating the irresistible energy through which he always performed.
I'm not saying that "Robin" is a bummer, by any means, or that it's just another tears-of-a-clown story. Itzkoff's a better writer than that, and he gives us a man whose life was a series of triumphs and tragedies, addiction and sobriety, marriage and infidelity, depression and stability.... Itzkoff captures the ebb and flow of Williams's career beautifully, with respect and with honesty. He also captures Williams's final stretch before his 2014 death with respect and honesty, as Williams, misdiagnosed with Parkinson's disease, suffers paranoia, hallucinations, and blank moments.
—Boston Globe
Itzkoff brings all this alive through the dogged reporting one would expect of a longtime New York Times culture writer. He knows when to use Williams' words, from interviews by the author and others, even from Williams' handwritten script notes.... Topping it off are Itzkoff's visceral descriptions of Williams' effervescent performances.... Itzkoff has somehow prepared us well for all of this, keeping us clued into so many aspects of Williams' life, with finesse and foreboding, but no showy sentiment. His writing is simply imbued with Williams' special intimate connection.
This latest biography of Williams is an engaging and intimate chronicle of the cultural icon who took America by storm 40 years ago.... Itzkoff has done his research, including interviews with friends, family, and glitterati — as well as with the subject himself, whom the author first interviewed in 2009 for a newspaper story. The two stayed in touch.
—USA Today
...the most thorough biography yet of the legendary entertainer. The New York Times veteran approaches his daunting task with a reporter's objective eye, relying heavily on more than 100 interviews with close friends and noted celebrities, including David Letterman and former “Mork & Mindy” co-star Pam Dawber.... For the most part, “Robin” is a nimble, joyous journey down memory lane — just the way Williams might have planned it.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Williams was an extraordinary talent (or a longing for talent) and an uneasy man. People said “genius” because they were both excited and disturbed by him. Well, Itzkoff has delivered a breathtakingly good biography, exhilarating a lot of the time, yet disturbing, too, and one of the best books ever written about anyone who sees no way out of life except by trying to make people laugh. Or is it weeping? Who can tell in a storm?
—San Francisco Chronicle
Dave Itzkoff's biography “Robin” gets its hands around as much of that life as possible. It's an incisive, comprehensive, very fine book.... It's a fascinating life, and the author captures it with grace and evenhanded perception.... “Robin” reads smoothly and eloquently, though you wouldn't mind a few more passages where Itzkoff's critical intelligence takes off and leaves the organized, orderly reporter behind for a while. Biographies of famous funny people are funny that way: They require both kinds of writers. At his best, Itzkoff is both, and “Robin” is all the better for it.
—Chicago Tribune
...[an] immersive, intimate and incredibly detailed new biography by Dave Itzkoff. It's a revealing, warts-and-all portrait of a man of great talent trying to design a career and a life while being buffeted around by a cacophony of contradictory voices and impulses. At almost 500 pages, the book is the result of exhaustive research and fan-like devotion.
—Washington Post
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